• The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) has long emphasized that physical therapy is a safe and effective alternative to prescription medication for the treatment of chronic pain.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the US Surgeon General agree, recommending physical therapy instead of opioids for the management of most long-term pain.

    Unfortunately, there's a problem: patient access.

    Current policies creates barriers for patients seeking physical therapist treatment. In most cases, it's easier and less expensive for physicians to prescribe opioids and for patients to receive opioids.

    To end America's opioid epidemic, several policies must change.

    These 6 Policy Fixes Must Happen to Ensure Improved Access to Physical Therapist Services for Everyone:

    1. Repeal the Medicare Therapy Cap.
    2. Remove restrictions at the federal and state levels to improve patient access to physical therapist services.
    3. Ensure comprehensive insurance coverage for services provided by physical therapists.
    4. Provide for fair physical therapy copays under insurance.
    5. Allow physical therapists to perform to the full extent of their education and training.
    6. Protect patient choice of their physical therapist.


    APTA was supportive of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which was signed into law on July 22, 2016. Many of the provisions within the bill will be tremendously effective in combating this public health crisis. However, more must be done. APTA remains committed to working with Congressional offices to develop safe and viable policy solutions to stop this epidemic once and for all.

    #ChoosePT, APTA's national consumer education campaign, is educating consumers about physical therapy as a safe alternative to opioids for pain management. In conjunction with Pain Awareness Month (September), APTA released a public service announcement (PSA) that will be distributed nationwide.

    Policy Resources

    Review APTA's Position Paper: Fighting America's Opioid Epidemic: Providing Safe Solutions for Pain (.pdf)

  • Last Updated: 1/27/2017
    Contact: advocacy@apta.org