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10 Crazy facts about Opioids

10 Crazy Statistics you should know before taking Pain Medication!

Have you ever known anyone addicted to pain medications?  It can be very devastating for everyone involved from the person taking them to the family members affected by the onset and struggles of addiction.  The Center of Disease Control (CDC) has come out with some staggering statistics about the overuse of these medications in fact they have also given us some guidelines for alternative solutions to addressing pain. 

According to the CDC, since 1999, Americans have increasingly been prescribed opioids—painkillers like Vicodin, OxyContin, Opana, and Methodone, and combination drugs like Percocet. 

Sales of prescription opioids have quadrupled in the United States, even though "there has not been an overall change in the amount of pain that Americans report."  This is being called the “silent epidemic”

Statistics that may surprise you:

  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.
  1. As many as 1 in 4 people who receive prescription opioids long term for noncancerous pain in primary care settings struggles with addiction.
  1. More than 165,000 persons in the United States have died from opioid pain-medication-related overdoses since 1999.
  2. Every day, more than 1,000 people are treated in emergency departments for misusing prescription opioids.
  3. 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.

  1. Chronic pain affects an estimated 100 million Americans or one third of the U.S. population.
  2. Approximately 25 million have moderate to severe chronic pain that limits activities and diminishes quality of life. 
  3. Pain is the primary reason that Americans receive disability insurance.
  4. Each day 46 people die from an overdose of prescription painkillers* in the US.
  1. The South has 10 of the highest prescribing states for painkillers.


Alabama is high on the list for prescription pain medication.  The CDC is encouraging health care providers to try safer alternative like physical therapy for most pain management:  Before you agree to a prescription for opioids, tell your doctor you want to talk with a physical therapist to discuss options for treatment. No one wants to live in pain. But no one should put their health at risk in an effort to be pain free.


ErgoScience physical therapist partner with patients, their families, and other health care professionals to manage pain, often reducing or eliminating the need for opioids.

The American Physical therapy Association launched a national campaign to raise awareness about the risks of opioids and the safe alternatives of physical therapy for long term management.  They suggests things to consider in choosing physical therapy………..

  • The risks of opioid use outweigh the rewards.
    Potential side effects of opioids include constipation, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, muscle pain, anxiety, irritability, depression, overdose, and addiction, plus withdrawal symptoms when stopping opioid use. Because of these risks, "experts agreed that opioids should not be considered first line or routine therapy for chronic pain," the CDC guidelines state. Even in cases when evidence on the long-term benefits of non-opioid therapies is limited, "risks are much lower" with non-opioid treatment plans.
  • Pain or function problems are related to low back painhip or knee osteoarthritis, or fibromyalgia.
    The CDC cites "high-quality evidence" supporting exercise as part of a physical therapy treatment plan for those familiar conditions.

·         Patients want to do more than mask the pain.
Opioids reduce the sensation of pain by interrupting pain signals to the brain. Physical therapists treat pain through movement while partnering with patients to improve or maintain their mobility and quality of life.


  • Opioids are prescribed for pain. 
    Even in situations when opioids are prescribed, the CDC recommends that patients should receive "the lowest effective dosage," and opioids "should be combined" with nonopioid therapies, such as physical therapy.


  • Pain lasts 90 days.
    At this point, the pain is considered "chronic," and the risks for continued opioid use increase. An estimated 116 million Americans have chronic pain each year. The CDC guidelines note that nonopioid therapies are "preferred" for chronic pain and that "clinicians should consider opioid therapy only if expected benefits for both pain and function are anticipated to outweigh risks to the patient."


At ErgoScience we are committed to a healthy and safe process to reduce pain by addressing the underlying causes so that you’re less likely to experience recurrence.  In addition, we’ll address the goals that are important to YOU so that you can participate fully in  the activities and sports that you love.   Call us today at 205-278-2250 for a free evaluation on February 10. 2017.  Let us help you set up a plan to address your pain and get you back to the things you love. 

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