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The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) is joining the fight against opioid abuse with a new public service campaign promoting conservative approaches—including exercise and physical therapy—as safe alternatives to painkillers.

The AAOS print campaign uses the message "Painkillers are easy to get into, hard to escape," accompanied by an image of a person seemingly trapped inside a prescription container. According to AAOS, the ad has been distributed across the country.

In addition to the print efforts, AAOS also created 30- and 60-second radio ads, produced in partnership with the Orthopaedic Trauma Association, that dramatize a conversation between a physician and patient requesting more painkillers to help with recovery after knee surgery.

"We're being very careful with those now," the doctor tells the patient. "Prescription painkillers are opioids, same as heroin—it's easy to start taking them, not so easy to stop." Instead, the doctor says, "let's try these anti-inflammatories, plus your physical therapy."

"When used as recommended, prescription painkillers can alleviate severe pain, especially during the hours and days immediately following an injury or major surgery," AAOS states on the campaign webpage. "However, opioids are not a long-term pain solution and, when misused, can lead to addiction and even death."

The AAOS message is consistent with APTA's #ChoosePT campaign launched in 2016, which promotes physical therapy as a safe and effective alternative to the use of opioids in the treatment of pain. Housed at MoveForwardPT.com/ChoosePT, the #ChoosePT campaign includes national online advertising, TV and radio public service announcements, and other targeted advertising and media outreach. Both AAOS and APTA encourage patients to have conversations with their doctors about how to manage their pain, and the #ChoosePT website includes a downloadable pain profile to help facilitate that conversation.

"Patient education is crucial to combating this epidemic, and I commend AAOS for a bold campaign that clearly underlines the risks of opioids and encourages conservative alternatives for long-term pain management," said APTA President Sharon L. Dunn, PT, PhD. "All health care providers must continue to work together to end this national crisis."


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