The release of a report on Australia’s overdose crisis today has prompted the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) to call on the Federal Government to invest properly in evidence based physiotherapy pain management services.

Australia’s Annual Overdose Report 2019, released by the Penington Institute, found that the number of deaths owing to unintentional drug overdose in Australia had increased 38% between 2001 and 2017 and is growing by 3.4% a year.

More than half of all unintentional drug overdoses in 2017 involved some form of opioid, in many cases oxycodone or codeine, which are commonly used for chronic pain management.

APA National President Phil Calvert says the government must invest in true multidisciplinary pain management services - and physiotherapy in particular - to avert the health crisis and stop these unnecessary deaths.

“We have a clear health problem in our community, which we have already seen lead to devastating consequences in North America. We need a complete rethink of how we tackle the issue of chronic pain management. We know opioid use doesn’t make people well, it simply masks their underlying problem.”

“Physiotherapy as part of a multi-disciplinary approach is proven to be beneficial in managing and reducing chronic pain conditions, but the government needs to get on board now. The health system must fund services that work, which put the patient at the centre of their health choices and educates them about how best to manage and overcome their pain conditions.”

“For too long we have seen federal funding go towards medicines to manage complex chronic pain conditions. It simply hasn’t worked. If we’re really going to get serious about this, we need to put the funding where it works best, and that’s in multidisciplinary pain management services.”

“Physiotherapists who specialise in chronic pain must have their treatment subsidised via the MBS. It’s the best way to support the growing number of Australians across all demographics whose increasing reliance on opioids for their pain is leading to overdoses and, tragically, death in too many cases.”


Phil Calvert is available for further comment.  


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