Everywhere you look today you here about the opioid epidemic sweeping the country. But what does it mean and what are the consequences? Opioids are a class of drugs that react with opioid receptors on nerve cells, relieving pain and creating pleasurable feelings thus making them highly addictive. Unfortunately medical doctors in this country, in an effort to deal with issues like new injuries that eventually result in chronic pain when not corrected, routinely prescribed and over prescribed these narcotic painkillers to a breaking point. Since 1999 the deaths related to prescription opioids have quadrupled totaling more than 165,000 people and costing the U.S. an estimated $18 billion. In response there have been calls from the CDC, FDA and the Institute of Medicine to shift away from opioids and toward more non-pharmacological approaches to pain management.
So what are we to do and how do we deal with this epidemic? New Pain management standards, set forth by the Joint Commission that oversees 90% of all hospitals in the U.S., are to go into effect January 1, 2018. Hospitals are now going to be required to provide non-pharmacological pain treatment options such as chiropractic as part of the pain treatment protocols.
Since 1895 chiropractic has been a drug free, safe, noninvasive and effective treatment option for the reduction of pain and improvement in function of the body that has been ignored by the majority of the medical profession for far too long and to disastrous effects. In fact, a recent study of datasets from Medicare showed that locations with a higher concentration of chiropractors and higher payouts for chiropractic adjustments, had fewer patients taking prescription opioids. When chiropractic care is utilized, it has a direct positive effect on opioid use due to more people receiving the proper care they need and are, in turn, living a healthier and pain free lifestyle.
As chiropractors we focus on the root cause of the pain. Misalignment of the vertebrae or other joints in the body exert pressure onto the nerves, in various means, causing a disruption of the signal sent from the brain along this nerve. When these signals are disrupted the connection between the brain and body is interrupted causing the body to not function properly which delays the body’s healing abilities and promoting an environment that leads to dysfunction and pain. Through gentle spinal and extremity adjustments of misaligned areas we can restore proper function and healing – reducing if not completely eliminating the pain.
A paradigm shift has begun. In order to continue this shift in the healthcare model, we must learn and not ignore the data – head the warning of these organizations and no longer go down the path of more and more drugs. Drug manufactures need to be proactive and responsible in their marketing and education on the use of these drugs. Doctors and hospitals need to be more selective in their prescribing and use of these drugs and we need to look at ways of dealing with and preventing the issues that lead to the need for opioids. Chiropractic is standing ready to lead this part of the fight and with the Joint Commission’s new standards we are optimistic. Strelcheck Chiropractic Clinic has been helping people to lead pain free lives for 59 years! Ask your doctor today if chiropractic would be an alternative to opioids for your condition.