Progress For the Opioid Epidemic Will Come From Progressive Care
While methods of chiropractic care can vary, chiropractors have a singular focus on relieving pain through a progressive treatment plan. Ultimately, the goal is to administer adjustments to the spine and musculoskeletal system to relieve tension and realign areas of the body that are causing pain. Over time, the hope is that the relief will progress from less pain to no pain. The best thing about this method of pain relief is that the treatment plan is void of medications.
We also happen to be in the business of prevention. Through maintenance and wellness care that we provide to our patients, they can continue to live a pain-free lifestyle. Could this part of the solution in preventing opioid addiction, too? We think so. It seems that, more and more, the wider medical community is beginning to think so too.
Spreading the Word About Patient-Centered Care
Chiropractors around the world have spent their careers providing a fantastic alternative to opioid pain relievers. Our method of patient-centered care is focused on helping the patient primarily with their pain, as well as looking at their well-being as a whole. As the opioid epidemic in the United States worsens, we along with other healthcare professionals, are working harder than ever to build a bridge with doctors from all backgrounds to educate them and the public on the value of providing relief through non-pharmacological means. On a national scale, the American Chiropractic Association has rejuvenated their brand with a focus on being “Hands Down Better™”. Including communicating and collaborating with the healthcare industry at large.
In April 2017, the American College of Physicians shared research focusing on noninvasive treatments for acute, subacute, and chronic low back pain as a clinical practice guideline for physicians. The goal was to provide evidence-based recommendations for noninvasive treatment of low back pain. Recommendations included urging clinicians and patients to choose non-pharmacologic treatment such as heat treatment, massage, acupuncture, and spinal manipulation as the first line of treatment. Furthermore, they specifically claim: “Clinicians should only consider using opioids as an option in patients who have failed the aforementioned treatments and only if the potential benefits outweigh the risks…”
The Proof is in the Research
As more dollars are being distributed to back funding for research more evidence has alluded to the importance of chiropractic as a solution for pain. Research has focused on the effectiveness of spinal manipulation therapy as well as broadened techniques such as acupuncture, electrical stimulation therapy, and exercise education – all techniques the fall under the care that chiropractors can provide to patients seeking relief.
Harvard Medical School frames chiropractic as “a system of therapy focused on the structure of the body” and goes on to note that beyond adjustments, chiropractors can deliver treatments including manual or manipulative therapies, postural and exercise education, and ergonomic training while working in conjunction with primary care doctors, pain experts, and surgeons. They cite the American College of Physicians’ research report noted above as further proof of chiropractic’s effectiveness for treating pain.
In addition, the Palmer Center for Chiropractic Research has worked at length to build a body of research that demonstrates the strongest evidence to-date that chiropractic care is an effective way to treat pain and can easily be integrated with the usual medical care (UMC) plan of an individual. In 2017 alone, they published 21 publications and 17 peer-reviewed journals regarding various research topics surrounding chiropractic care in relation to pain and the integration of chiropractic into a greater medical treatment of pain.
The results provided one clear direction: utilizing a team-based case management model for patient-centered care demonstrates superior results. In one study, patients who received chiropractic care concurrently or collaboratively with medical care reported significantly better perceived low back pain improvement, overall improvement of health, and greater satisfaction with their care. To add to these results, a study focused on the process of collaborative care itself showed that clinicians and chiropractors found that the team-based approach enhanced information flow, social support, and interaction between patients and collaborating provider, ending in enhanced results for the patient.
In the wake of the increasing concern surrounding opioid addiction and these new research findings, the Food and Drug Administration has begun to recommend chiropractic care as part of pain management programs. Their statement encourages healthcare providers to be knowledgeable about the wider range of therapies available to patients in pain and should be used as part of a multidisciplinary approach to pain when appropriate.
While there is still a long road to travel towards recovery from the epidemic, the chiropractic disciplinary and healthcare industry at large are now taking their strides together.
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