The opioid epidemic has been making headlines for years as the number of opioid related overdoses continue to rise. The problem had started in the early nineties when this class of drug was made easily accessible through a doctors prescription. In the field of health care, nothing can be more
demoralizing than a patient who is suffering from chronic pain, and
many doctors had thought opioids were finally the answer to helping
their patients get the relief they so badly needed. Unfortunately, this prescription has had a severely negative, and sometimes deadly, impact on our country as a whole.
As with many things, the problem is not as simple as blaming the prescribing doctor for the opioid crisis. This is a multi faceted problem that must be addressed from many angles. Simply taking the drugs away (or in some states, severely limiting the prescribing rights to opioids) will not get rid of the problem. In most cases, as we are seeing unfold right before our eyes, this action can lead to an even bigger problem with an increase in illegal drug use and crime. So how do we properly tackle this issue? Let's take a look at how West Virginia is choosing to battle their opioid epidemic.
West Virginia recently passed senate bill 273, which went into effect June 7th. This new law sets a limit on opioid prescriptions and mandates that primary care providers prescribe or recommend alternative treatments such as chiropractic, physical therapy, massage, and acupuncture. This bill also requires that Medicaid and PEIA (Public Employees Insurance Agency) must provide coverage for these alternative therapies for 12 visits over 120 days when ordered by a physician. This is the first bill that uses a multi faceted approach to helping these patients not only get off of their addictive medication, but to help them get out of pain.
Pain is the body's way of communicating that there is a problem going on inside. This problem can arise from many different processes, but none of them are because your body lacked the opioid being prescribed. Opioids, and other pain medications for that matter, only mask or dull the pain. They do nothing to actually help the patients' actual problem. Taking pain medication as the only form of relief is like having your check oil light come on in your car and only shutting off the signal to the warning light. Yes the light is no longer on, but your car still needs an oil change! Pain medication is the short sided approach to relief and should be used in conjunction with forms of care that work naturally to solve the problem actually causing the pain. Chiropractors are best suited to look beyond the pain signal the body is firing off and do their best to correct the issues without the use of drugs or surgery. It is this approach that with actually solve the problem.
A recent study done by the Palmer Center for Chiropractic Research, shows that when chiropractic care was integrated with usual medical care (UMC), patients had better short-term improvements in low-back pain intensity and pain-related disability compared to patients who received UMC alone, had decreased low-back pain intensity compared to patients who received UMC alone, decreased their
use of pain medication compared to patients who received UMC alone, and had greater perceived improvement for low back pain than UMC alone. If you want to check this article out click here.
Only time will tell to see if senate bill 273 passed in West Virginia will be enough to eliminate the opioid crisis once and for all. They are at least providing the rest of the country with a new way of dealing with the problem that involves a more complete process of helping their patients. If you, or someone you know, are in pain and looking for a personalized treatment plan tailored to your specific needs do not hesitate to schedule an appointment to a chiropractor.
2. Goertz CM, Long CR, Vining RD, Pohlman KA, Walter J, Coulter I. Effect of Usual Medical Care Plus Chiropractic Care vs Usual Medical Care Alone on Pain and Disability Among US Service Members With Low Back PainA Comparative Effectiveness Clinical Trial. JAMA Network Open. 2018;1(1):e180105. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.0105
3. Alternative treatments for new patients with chronic pain helping with opioid decline Darlene Swiger - https://www.wvnews.com/theet/news/alternative-treatments-for-new-patients-with-chronic-pain-helping-with/article_e862091a-3416-555c-b4cf-da22e55dc3ae.html