New GPs guideline recommends physio over opioids for acute musculoskeletal pain

27 October 2017 - for immediate release


A new guideline released by the RACGP today addresses the growing community concern over opioid misuse and addiction. A key recommendation is that GPs refer patients to physios early for acute musculoskeletal pain.

Prescribing drugs of dependence in general practice – part C recognises that drugs of dependence (ie opioids) have important therapeutic uses, but that prescription of these medicines must always be clinically appropriate and supported by national and state laws.

One of its recommendations to GPs is to engage a physio early in more severe acute musculoskeletal injuries, as well as look at multidisciplinary care options for their patients suffering chronic pain.

APA member Lorimer Moseley, who is Professor of Clinical Neurosciences and Chair in Physiotherapy at the University of South Australia, was involved in the review process for the new RACGP guideline. Professor Moseley is at the forefront of chronic and complex pain treatment approaches internationally. He said, “That physiotherapists are critical in delivering evidence-based care is accepted and not surprising; modern physiotherapists are field leaders in their understanding of contemporary pain science. They have an ideal skill set to facilitate recovery and to prevent chronic pain.”

APA National President Phil Calvert welcomed the new guideline, but also went a step further. “Our members work with patients who suffer acute pain on a daily basis, so we know that early and regular physio treatment leads to beneficial outcomes for them. But to really address the issue of reducing opioid prescriptions, patient referrals to physios needs to be supported by a government funding mechanism.”

“This will allow patients to be active participants in their recovery from injury and chronic pain. Short term medicine prescription may be a part of this, but it doesn’t have to be the only solution. Physio is a highly viable, evidence based treatment for acute and chronic pain conditions, and is also less costly to the health system – and the economy as a whole - when compared to long term opioid use and the complex personal and social issues that go with this.”

The 12 point challenge to GPs on reducing opioid prescribing in General Practice is available here.



For further information, please contact: Julie Dwyer, Communications Manager
T 03 9092 0810 M 0419 176 075  E