August 26, 2019

*From APTA’s “Beyond Opioids*

The most likely reason for a person to come to physical therapy is simple- Pain. There are different ways we can go about treating pain, with a popular approach being pain medications, specifically, opiates. Unfortunately there are a myriad of things that can go wrong with the use of opiates to control pain. Between the years of 2006 and 2012 America’s largest drug companies have saturated the country with 76 billion oxycodone and hydrocodone pills causing the nation’s deadliest drug epidemic to spin out of control.

  • Painkiller prescriptions reached “Epidemic Levels” as of 2011.
  • As of 2010, 12 million people age 12 and older reported using painkillers “non-medically”.
  • In 2014, more than 750,000 people were receiving substance-abuse treatment for prescription opioids.
  • In 2016, more than 3 out of 5 overdoses involved an opioid, with more than 42,000 people passing away due to opioid overdose, with more than 17,000 of those being due to prescription opioids.

You can read more about these statistics in a recent Washington Post article, link below.

Specifically for New Jersey, the rate of drug overdoses increased by nearly 30% from 2016 to 2017. In addition, provides in the state of New Jersey wrote 44.2 prescriptions for every 100 people. In order to take steps against opioid abuse, Governer Phil Murphy signed three pieces of legislation in hopes of decreasing opioid use. The bills that were signed are summarized as follows:

  • A3292 – Prescription opioids in the state of New Jersey will now require a red warning label mentioning the risk of opioid medications.
  • A4744 – Benefits for eligible recipients receiving certain types of medication assisted treatment under Medicaid to be given without imposition of any prior authorization.
  • SJR35 – Designates October 6th as “Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day” in order to raise awareness about opioid use and addiction
  • For more information, click on the link here to the Office of the Governor regarding the legislation:

However, there is good news! The CDC (Center for Disease Control) has found that non-pharmacological (non-medication) treatments, such as physical therapy, have been found to be just as effective as pharmacological treatments when dealing with chronic pain.  Physical therapy is a multidimensional profession utilizing the best treatments available based on the strongest research studies to relieve pain and restore function as fast as possible.  This is often a combination of treatments such as:

  • Massage
  • Modalities (electrical stimulation, ultrasound, laser, heat, and cold)
  • Manipulations (often thought of as only a chiropractic treatment)
  • Dry needling and cupping (often thought of as only acupuncture treatments)
  • Exercise


Physical therapy is a collaborative process which involves communication with various health professionals, so that physical therapists can provide you with the most effective treatment possible

The APTA put out a video that has a great illustration regarding the opioid epidemic with some additional information. If you are interested, you can click the link below!



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