Chiropractic’s non-drug approach is particularly relevant today in light of the rampant overuse and abuse of prescription opioid medications. Doctors of chiropractic (DCs) are experts in the treatment of neuromusculoskeletal problems and their natural approach can eliminate or reduce the need for drugs and surgery in some cases.
The U.S. military is now investigating chiropractic services and other conservative treatment strategies to mitigate the alarming rate of opioid abuse and addiction among troops.
Early results of that research show that combining chiropractic manipulative treatment with medical care provides significant improvement in lessening pain and enhancing solider readiness.
Health care quality organizations have also begun to recognize the value of a conservative, multidisciplinary approach. The Joint Commission, an independent non-profit organization that certifies more than 20,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States, including every major hospital, recently revised its pain management standard to include chiropractic services.
Clinical experts in pain management working with the commission affirmed that treatment strategies may consider both pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic approaches. Since January 2015, services provided by DCs are now included in the standard of care for pain management.
In addition, medical associations are recognizing the problem and looking for strategies to deal with the disproportionate prescription and use of opioids in the United States. A report published last month in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (JAAOS) pointed out that more than 80 percent of the world’s opioids are consumed in the United States and that primary care physicians, internists and orthopedic surgeons are the top three prescribers of these medications.
JAAOS researchers themselves noted that the increased usage of opioids for the treatment of pain has led to several unanticipated aftereffects for individual patients and for society at large and called on orthopedic surgeons to “work together with all prescribers and patients to decrease the use of opioids for musculoskeletal pain.”
Each patient is unique, and care plans should be tailored to focus on what is the safest, most effective treatment for the individual.
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