When it comes to back and neck pain alone, 1-2% of patients with low back pain who seek treatment have a serious disorder and require surgery, while 5-10% of patients warrant further investigation through imaging. That means a whopping 90% of patients suffering from neck and back pain would do best long-term with specific education and intervention with a physical therapist. Too many of these patients are currently being treated with opioids, medical imaging, and surgeries.
After rapid growth in recent years, the opioid epidemic is now among the leading causes of death in the United States. Opioids, a category of drugs that includes prescription painkillers, killed more than 28,000 people in 2014, with the rate of overdoses tripling since 2000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Almost two million Americans abused or were dependent on these drugs in 2014.
Although long overdue, the issue is finally moving to the forefront in both federal and state governments. The Senate recently approved a comprehensive bill while the House passed 18 opioid-related bills, and several states have already adopted policies to reduce the prescribing of opioids.
While the federal government can make the biggest difference by expanding high-quality treatment programs, states, which have more pull over doctors and hospitals, can reduce the prescribing of opioids by encouraging doctors to order alternative pain treatments like physical therapy.
If you are suffering from musculoskeletal pain, call 866.866.3839 or go online to ptcentral.org to set up an appointment with one of RPT’s expert physical therapists. We’ll come up with a plan to get (and keep!) you healthy, active, and pain free without time-consuming or costly imaging and procedures.