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#ChoosePT Campaign Targets Opioid Epidemic by Ashley Kurtz

This October marks the 25th annual celebration of National Physical Therapy Month (NPTM). In the past, NPTM has been used to recognize outstanding physical therapists and celebrate the practice of physical therapy. Continuing on its mission to highlight the American Physical Therapy Association’s (APTA) public awareness campaign, #ChoosePT, NPTM looks to educate the public on the risks of opioid use and propose physical therapy as an alternative for combating chronic pain.

Opioid Use in America

America is in the midst of a serious opioid epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2012 alone, health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for opioid pain medication. That’s equivalent to one bottle of pills for every adult in the United States.

In March 2016, the CDC issued guidelines urging health care providers to reduce prescriptions for opioid pain medication in favor of safe alternatives, such as physical therapy, for chronic pain conditions. This was encouraged further in August 2016, when the Surgeon General sent a letter to every physician in the country asking for their help in combating the epidemic.

4 Startling Statistics from the CDC

_ 1 in 4 people who receive prescription opioids long-term for chronic pain struggle with addiction.

_ Every day, more than 1,000 people are treated in emergency rooms for misusing prescription opioids.

_ Among new heroin users, about 3 in 4 people report having abused prescription opioids before using heroin.

_ Around 78 people die every day from an opioid-related overdose.

Physical Therapy: A Proven Alternative

Physical therapists treat pain rather than just managing it through opioid pain medications. Physical therapy also helps to restore full function and movement where pain has hampered mobility.

Experts at the CDC have stated that opioid pain medications should not be considered routine therapy for chronic pain. The CDC also states that when opioids are prescribed, they should be prescribed in the lowest effective dosage and combined with physical therapy to maximize the effectiveness while minimizing the risk.

Physical therapists offer individualized treatment plans that focus on the condition of each patient separately. By working with each patient and developing a personalized exercise program in conjunction with manual treatments performed by therapists, physical therapists are able to better get their patients on a path towards healing so they can return to full function.

It’s important to know that opioids are not a panacea for alleviating chronic pain and are not the only option available. Physical therapy is a proven treatment for healing and treating conditions that cause chronic pain. Help to end the opioid epidemic in America by choosing the safe way of treating chronic pain. Let your choice be an inspiration to others by using the hashtag #ChoosePT, and show your support of physical therapy over prescription opioids.

Ashley Kurtz is the Director of Operations & Business Development of Access Physical Therapy & Wellness. Access Physical Therapy & Wellness has joined the coalition of physical therapists across the country in the #ChoosePT campaign. They offer free wellness screenings for those who wish to improve their overall health and wellness. The exam involves an assessment of range of motion, muscle strength and nerve tension. To schedule your free wellness screening and find a location near you and to learn more on physical therapy and how it can help heal your chronic pain, visit

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