It’s no coincidence that Pain Awareness Month in September is followed by National Physical Therapy Month in October. But it’s November now, and the American Physical Therapy Association’s (APTA) #ChoosePT campaign is still going strong.
Geared to educate the public about the dangers of opioids while promoting physical therapy as the best alternative, it’s a campaign that just may slow down the opioid epidemic. #ChoosePT is reaching millions of Americans with national campaigns across popular websites, magazines, and a variety of radio stations. And with the simple slogan of “Don’t mask the pain with opioids. Treat it with physical therapy”, it’s a message making the impact that we need.
The Epidemic by the Numbers
A survey from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School reported that of the American adults prescribed opioids, nearly 60% of them keep the leftover pills. But it doesn’t stop there, the survey also reveals that 1 in 5 of those Americans shares their prescription with someone else. It’s no wonder that since 1999, the number of opioid-related deaths has quadrupled.
Earlier this year, the CDC released their own efforts to combat the opioid epidemic with guidelines physicians should consider before prescribing. The report’s promotion of physical therapy as an effective and ultimate alternative is what actually prompted the APTA’s #ChoosePT campaign.
A Physical Therapist’s Role in the Epidemic
It’s all too easy to point the finger at the physicians who prescribe them, but the opioid epidemic is everyone’s problem and responsibility. Medical professionals must continue to educate their patients how and when to use opioids, as well how and when to dispose of them.
As for the PT’s role in the epidemic, they get the wonderful opportunity to work with those who chose physical therapy over opioids. Don’t miss the chance to congratulate them for choosing to treat the pain rather than masking it.
Keep in mind that most patients may feel discouraged because physical therapy may not offer the instant relief they need. Let your patients know that opioids are temporary high-risk solutions and there are known instances where they are ineffective.