Calls have come from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) for a shift away from opioid use toward non-pharmacologic approaches to address chronic pain.
Overdose deaths involving prescription opioids have quadrupled since 1999, as have sales of these prescription drugs. From 1999 to 2014, more than 165,000 people --- three times the U.S. military deaths during the twenty years of the
Vietnam War -- have died in the U.S. from overdoses related to prescription opioids. Today, at least half of all U.S. opioid overdose deaths involve a prescribed opioid. In 2014, more than 14,000 people died from overdoses involving these drugs with the most commonly overdosed opioids -- Methadone, Oxycodone (such as OxyContin®), and Hydrocodone (such as Vicodin®) -- resulting in death. Regrettably, overdose deaths resulting from opioid abuse have risen sharply in every county of every state across the country, reaching a new peak in 2014: 28,647 people, or 78 people per day – more than three people per hour. The newest estimates on the cost of opioid abuse to U.S. employers is estimated at $18 billion in sick days, lost productivity and medical expenses. An important non-pharmacologic approach in helping to solve this crisis is chiropractic care. This discussion offers greater understanding of the scope of the opioid situation the elements that have contributed to it and an approach that emphasizes non-pharmacologic care. Collectively, we must begin to extricate ourselves from our current ineffective, dangerous and often fatal reality.
AMERICANS WANT AND DESERVE CHIROPRACTIC CARE
For the overwhelming number of people who suffer with chronic pain, chiropractic care offers a drug-free, non-invasive and cost-effective alternative to opioid drugs. Chiropractic is the largest, most regulated and best recognized of the complementary and alternative care professions. In fact, patient surveys reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine show that chiropractors are used more than any other alternative provider group and patient satisfaction with chiropractic care is very high. Patient use of chiropractic in the United States has tripled in the past two decades. The importance of chiropractic care is further amplified since many individuals are prescribed opioids for back, low back and neck pain, headaches, neuro-musculoskeletal conditions and other related conditions. An estimated 126.6 million Americans (one in two adults) are affected by a musculoskeletal condition.
Cliff Atwell, B.S., D.C.