There have been increased reports recently about the overuse and over-prescription of opioids for pain relief, and even deaths from overdoses.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 25 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, persisting for 3 months or more. On March 16, 2016 the CDC issued new guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain. The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) states “there are better, safer ways of treating chronic pain than the use of opioids”. They also state in their recommendations "The contextual evidence review found that many nonpharmacologic therapies, including physical therapy, weight loss for knee osteoarthritis, psychological therapies such as [cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT], and certain interventional procedures can ameliorate chronic pain." These new guidelines were created as a response to a growing incidence of opioid overdose and an increase in them being prescribed. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) is in support of the new guidelines, contributing that often PT services are underutilized as a treatment for pain. Although these guidelines are meant for physicians prescribing opioids as a first treatment for pain, they are still useful to be aware of. They highlight the importance and effectiveness of non-opioid options, including physical therapy. More information can be found at www.cdc.gov and www.apta.org.
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