Using Chiropractic Care to Fight the Opioid Crisis

Opioid abuse in the U.S. has become an epidemic that affects everyone.  In most cities, overdose deaths are a daily occurrence with 68% of the 70,200 drug overdose deaths in 2017 caused by opioids, according to the CDC.  New Hampshire, which ranks 42nd in population, is in the top 5 for opioid-related deaths, prompting the state to appoint its own drug czar to find solutions to the growing crisis.  In his quest for solutions, the most promising that Drug Czar Dave Marra found was not at all surprising to us:  chiropractic care.  

A 2018 study of data collected from NH patients with non-cancer-related lower back pain found that those who received chiropractic care to treat their lower back pain were 55% less likely to fill a prescription for opioids.    

This is great news and can prevent people from starting their pain management with medication and may keep them from going down that road altogether. However, a problem lies with the cost of the treatments.  Many of the people who severely abuse opioids are living on the streets with no insurance and no way to pay for chiropractic care while others have insurance but their plans don’t offer “alternative medical coverage” that would cover chiropractic treatment.  Employers are cutting these benefits as a way to keep the costs for insurance down and because there’s concern over opening a Pandora’s Box filled with unusual alternative care they’d have to cover.  

By lumping chiropractic treatment in with “medical care alternatives”, insurance companies may be cutting people off from an effective alternative to opioids with proven results.  Most insurance companies do provide some coverage for chiropractic care if it’s part of the employer’s plan but often plans may only cover a couple of sessions which does little to help someone living with chronic pain.    

To curb opioid abuse, many states have been cracking down on doctors who overprescribe opioids to their patients and there has been a drop in opioid prescriptions but unless there are replacement therapies available to replace the prescriptions, patients may turn to illegal drugs like heroin and fentanyl to treat their pain.  By recommending alternative therapies for pain like chiropractic care, physical therapy and acupuncture therapy, doctors can give patients relief to pain without drugs.  

Chiropractic care is a non-invasive therapy that targets the area of the pain to treat the source of the problem.  Addictive medications target cells, all the cells of the body, and dulls the pain, masking it instead of solving the underlying problem.  Opioids may have their place at treating patients with pain from cancer or for end-of-life care, for the treatment of musculoskeletal pain, chiropractic care can be a better solution.  

If you suffer from pain and want an alternative to addictive opioids, North County Chiropractic can help. We can determine if chiropractic care would be effective in treating your pain and provide you with a safe alternative to opioids for the management of your pain.  Call North County at (314)731-4201 and schedule your appointment today.