October is observed as “National Physical Therapy Month” (NPTM) in the United States. Sponsored by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), this campaign aims to recognize the transformative power of physical therapy and the prominent role that physical therapists and physical therapy assistants play in helping people to effectively manage pain, improve mobility, and lead a healthy life. The theme for 2017 NPTM is – #ChoosePT campaign.
Chronic pain is the number cause of long-term disability in the United States, with about 100 million Americans suffering from significant chronic pain or acute pain. The overuse of opioids for chronic pain treatment has become a national public health epidemic in the United States. Reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suggest that the number of drug overdose deaths involving opioids (including prescription opioids and heroin) quadrupled from 1999 to 2015, even though there has not been an overall change in the amount of pain that Americans report. According to the CDC, up to 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.
NPTM aims to spread awareness among people about the potential risks of opioids and the benefits of physical therapy as a safe and effective alternative for long-term pain management. Physical therapists treat pain through movement and exercise and help patients improve muscle strength, flexibility and range of motion. Physical therapy exercises can help people manage pain occurring due to chronic conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, frozen shoulder, neck pain, headaches and lower back pain.
There are different potential side effects to opioid use such as depression, overdose and addiction. It is also possible that certain withdrawal symptoms can occur when usage is stopped. Hence, CDC recommends that opioids should not be considered first line or routine therapy for chronic pain. The CDC’s guidelines recommend that when opioids are used, they should be combined with nonpharmacologic therapy and nonopioid pharmacologic therapy, as appropriate. Clinicians should consider opioid therapy only if expected benefits for both pain and function are anticipated to outweigh risks to the patient.
Initially, National Physical Therapy Week was celebrated in the month of June. In 1992, this week-long campaign was extended to a full month and October was designated as the official month for this event. Over, the years this campaign has gained much popularity and is now a recognized event in the National Health Observances Calendar. The award-winning #ChoosePT campaign has already reached millions.
Join the National Physical Therapy Month celebration. Make use of this platform to educate others about the pivotal role that physical therapists play in managing pain and improving mobility.