Working as a Travel Physical therapist, you already know why physical therapy is so important for patients to manage their pain. Some of your patients may not see the benefits, however. Opioids or pain medications can appeal to patients as a “quick fix” for their pain, unlike physical therapy that requires more time and effort. But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdoses killed more than 70,000 Americans in 2019 alone. Of these deaths, 70 percent of them involved prescription or illicit opioid use.
These individuals were not the only ones who used the drugs during that year, however – over 11 million people abused opioids. Every year, the U.S. loses $78.5 billion in health care spending, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and even criminal justice involvement due to opioid use. Drugs are not the only answer when it comes to pain management, especially when users end up becoming addicted to the "resolution" in the first place. Physical therapy is one of the safest ways for the injured to gain back overall health without abusing medication.
No one wants to live a life in pain, but that doesn't mean vulnerable individuals should be expected to put their health and well-being at risk while seeking pain relief. When opioids mostly mask pain and involve various risks – such as depression, addiction, and overdose – the downfalls seem to outweigh the benefits. That's why care providers are encouraging more people to #ChoosePT, to treat the root cause of your pain, instead of masking it with pain medication.
#ChoosePT, a campaign by the American Physical Therapy Association, was created to raise awareness about the dangers of prescription opioids and how easily they can be abused. This initiative was created to encourage patients and prescribers to put down the pills and instead choose safer natural alternatives to chronic pain management, like physical therapy.
As a travel physical therapist, it's your duty and responsibility to educate patients on ways to improve their movement and manage their pain. With the current opioid epidemic creating more and more unsettling statistics, it's more important than ever to encourage patients to #ChoosePT over pain medication. Can opioid use be avoided at all costs, in every instance? Not necessarily. For these reasons, the CDC released official opioid prescription guidelines which outline certain cases when opioid use is an appropriate option, such as cancer treatment and end-of-life care.
Patients should always receive the best treatment, where bene fits outweigh the risks. Highlighting the benefits physical therapy offers that opioids never could, like preventing future injuries or improving balance to prevent falls, can help patients see why they should #ChoosePT. If opioid use becomes the only option, it's important that you, as the care provider, establish treatment goals with the patient. This will outline the realistic goals for pain and function and detail how opioid use can come to a halt if the risks do begin to outweigh the benefits. The safety of the patient should always be the top priority, and if there's a way to avoid opioid treatment, the patient's health and well-being are better off long term.
Physical therapy is a safe and effective option for managing pain, and as a travel physical therapist, it's your job to inform friends, family, and patients of the importance of exercising their physical abilities toward recovery.
Learn more about the #ChoosePT campaign today.