Lake Regional's Rehab Therapy Director Courtney Hulett, P.T., encourages physical therapy as an alternative to opiod use and its related risks.

Prescription opioid use is causing a health crisis in the U.S. Sales of prescription opioids have quadrupled since 1999, and so have deaths related to prescription opioids, as well as deaths related to heroine. The American Physical Therapy Association makes the following points about the risks of prescription opioids.

Lake Regional’s Rehab Therapy Director Courtney Hulett, P.T., encourages physical therapy as an alternative to opiod use and its related risks.

“Prescription drugs are not the only option,” he says. “Physical therapy is a safe and effective alternative for managing and preventing pain.” 

•The increase in prescription opioid use is unmistakable. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 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.

•The risk for misusing prescription opioids is real. According to the CDC, every day, more than 1,000 people are treated in emergency departments for misusing prescription opioids.

•The risk for addiction is real. According to the CDC, as many as 1 in 4 people who receive prescription opioids long-term for non-cancer pain in primary care settings struggles with addiction.

•The risk for heroin use is real. According to the CDC, among new heroin users, about 3 out of 4 report abusing prescription opioids before using heroin.

•Physical therapy is a safe and effective alternative to opioids for long-term pain management. In March 2016, the CDC released guidelines urging non-opioid approaches for the management of chronic pain.

•There are some situations in which opioid therapy is appropriate. The CDC guidelines indicate that opioids may be appropriates for situations including cancer treatment, palliative care, end-of-life care and certain acute care situations. Still, the CDC guidelines also suggest pairing opioid therapy with non-opioid therapy, and their prescriber checklist recommends trying non-opioid therapy first.

•Patients have a choice about the kind of treatment they receive. Before accepting a prescription for opioids, patients should talk to their health care providers about related risks and safer alternatives.

“If someone you love struggles with chronic pain, encourage them to talk to their primary care provider or a physical therapist about how they can manage that pain without prescription medications,” Hulett said. “People should not accept chronic pain. There are safe ways to manage and prevent it.”

Lake Regional provides physical therapy in Camdenton, Eldon, Lake Ozark, Laurie and Osage Beach.