Every October is National Physical Therapy Month, celebrating the value of physical therapy. While it’s easy to boast about the significance of physical therapists around the world, this year’s celebration has a more urgent, important theme.

By now, you’ve likely heard of the devastating impact the opioid epidemic has made throughout our country. While prescription drugs like Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet and other painkillers are very effective at reducing pain, each drug is incredibly addictive… recently leading to further drug abuse and even death.

Meanwhile, physical therapists help patients manage their pain everyday. To raise awareness of physical therapy’s role in pain relief, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) has launched the Move Forward campaign. Move Forward is on a mission to let people know about the risks of opioid use and recognize that physical therapy is a safe alternative for managing pain.

The APTA recently provided seven eye-opening statistics that warrant a call to action:

  1. In 2012, health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for opioid pain medication, enough for every American adult to have their own bottle of pills.
  2. As many as 1 in 4 people who receive prescription opioids long term for non-cancer pain in primary care settings struggles with addiction.
  3. Sales of prescription opioids have nearly quadrupled since 1999.
  4. Deaths related to prescription opioids have quadrupled.
  5. Heroin-related overdose deaths more than quadrupled between 2002 and 2014, and people addicted to prescription opioids are 40 times more likely to be addicted to heroin.
  6. More than 165,000 persons in the United States have died from opioid pain-medication-related overdoses since 1999.
  7. Every day, more than 1,000 people are treated in emergency departments for misusing prescription opioids.

Needless to say, the APTA needs your help to get pain sufferers to #ChoosePT and lessen the risk of opioid dependency. Here’s how to get involved:

  • Social media is one of the largest platforms available to the public to spread the word about opioid abuse. Make sure to check out Move Forward’s Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for sharable content and to keep the conversation trending.
  • Visit the campaign’s website for more information about pain, how to manage it and how to avoid it.
  • Physical therapists and other healthcare providers use Performance Health products like TheraBand and Biofreeze to provide safe and effective pain relief. Find out how.

Together, we can make a difference; and potentially save lives.

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