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.
Dec 6, 2018 / Position Paper
Oct 1, 2018 / Feature
Sep 26, 2019 / Open Access
Jun 10, 2019 / News
Oct 1, 2019 / Website
Additional Safe Pain Management Advocacy Content
Aug 12, 2020 / Report
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.
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.
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.
Sep 25, 2018 / News
Thanks to a satellite media tour, APTA's #ChoosePT opioid awareness campaign received local media coverage in more than 30 outlets.
Jun 11, 2020 / White Paper
No lasting gains can be made in the opioid fight until the value of nonpharmacological approaches to chronic pain are recognized.
Mar 16, 2018 / Article
Ending the opioid epidemic will require collaboration among providers and professionals across the continuum of health care settings.
Oct 25, 2017 / News
The association has been active in responding to opioid abuse since 2015.
Feb 1, 2017 / Feature
Physical therapists increasingly are using mindfulness in their interventions.New research supports its benefits.