The sheer magnitude of America’s prescription opioid abuse epidemic has evoked visceral responses and calls-to-action from public and private sectors. As longtime advocates of drug-free management of acute, subacute
and chronic back, neck and neuro-musculoskeletal pain, the chiropractic profession is aligned with these important initiatives and committed to actively participate in solving the prescription opioid addiction crisis. A profession dedicated to health and well-being, Doctors of Chiropractic (DCs) are educated, trained and positioned to deliver non-pharmacologic pain management and play a leading role in “America’s Opioid Exit Strategy.”
Data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that “opioid deaths continued to surge in 2015, surpassing 30,000 for the first time in recent history. CDC Director Tom Frieden said, “The epidemic of deaths
involving opioids continues to worsen. Prescription opioid misuse and use of heroin and illicitly manufactured fentanyl are intertwined and deeply troubling problems.”
The human toll of prescription opioid use, abuse, dependence, overdose and poisoning have rightfully become a national public health concern.
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. Providers in multiple disciplines and throughout the health care continuum are now advocating chiropractic care as a leading alternative to usual medical care for chronic pain conditions.
"Chiropractic: A Key to America’s Opioid Exit Strategy’ is a follow-up discussion to ‘Chiropractic: A Safer Strategy than Opioids’ (June 2016), which examines the positive steps as well as the shortcomings of initiatives undertaken from July 2016 - March 2017 to address the opioid crisis. It also assesses the current landscape of opportunities to offer patients, doctors and payers meaningful programs to effectively address acute, subacute and chronic neck, low back and neuro-
musculoskeletal pain without the use of painkillers. Based upon the evidence articulated in this ground-breaking positioning paper, it becomes clear that chiropractic care is a key component of ‘America’s Opioid Exit Strategy’ on several levels.
Cliff Atwell, B.S., D.C.