The ongoing opioid crisis in the U.S. reflects the unintended consequences of an effort to control pain by masking it. We're paying a terrible price.
The opioid epidemic is, in many ways, fueled by a misguided approach to pain treatment that places an overreliance on the use of addictive opioids. Pain can be difficult to treat, and presents differently in different people: that's why an integrated, multidisciplinary pain management system is the best way to respond. It's a system that must include evidence-based, nonpharmacological approaches such as physical therapy, as supported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Why It Matters
When the CDC issued its guideline for prescribing opioids in 2016, more than 42,000 people in the United States died from an opioid overdose, including more than 17,000 whose deaths were attributed to prescription opioid overdoses. Deaths caused by overdose of prescription opioids quadrupled in 15 years until, in 2019, deaths from overdose were actually contributing to declining life expectancy in some segments of the U.S. population. Physical therapy offers a proven, cost-effective, and safe way to manage pain, and in turn save lives.
APTA supports efforts to increase patient access to nonpharmacologic approaches to pain treatment, including reducing copays, encourage early access to nondrug pain management, and educating the public on treatment options.
Jan 1, 2021 / White Paper
Oct 1, 2018 / Feature
Sep 26, 2019 / Open Access
Jun 10, 2019 / News
Oct 1, 2019 / Website
Additional Safe Pain Management Advocacy Content
Jul 5, 2022 / News
In an advocacy win, APTA-supported recommendations aimed at increasing veterans' access to PTs and PTAs are now part of a spending bill.
Mar 1, 2020 / Position Paper
This legislation would expand patient access to essential physical therapy services to children and adults who receive care at rural health clinics and community health centers.
Aug 12, 2020 / Resource
Research validates that early access to physical therapy can prevent acute pain from becoming chronic pain.
Jun 1, 2019 / Column
Payer policies and laws are changing. Still, it remains far too difficult for consumers to "Choose PT."
May 31, 2019 / News
The final report from an HHS inter-agency task force calls for greater collaborative care and improved access to physical therapy.
May 1, 2019 / Feature
Strategies for treating pain are evolving-and physical therapists are helping to lead the way.
Dec 14, 2018 / Review
For patients experiencing back, knee, neck, or shoulder pain, a visit to a PT early on can reduce the chances that they'll take any opioids for the condition.
Jun 7, 2020 / Position Paper
We support and advocate for physical therapist to be part of the solution to the opiod epidemic.
Oct 16, 2018 / Review
There's a lack of consistency in factors such as copays, referral requirements, prior authorization, and treatment limits.
Oct 5, 2018 / News
Expansive legislation aimed at battling the opioid crisis will soon become law, complete with provisions that echo APTA's recommendations.