Breakthrough study: Chiropractic can address the opioid crisis
Years ago, those who were addicted to prescription opioids or NSAIDS were attached to a certain stigma.
That is no longer the case. Reliance on pain medication is widespread throughout many demographics, and no matter how or why the pills got in their hands, millions of Americans are learning the dire consequences of them.
“When you trace the roots, I think it started maybe 20 years ago, or perhaps less, when there was an actual concern that people’s pain wasn’t being sufficiently managed or even ignored,” says James Whedon, DC, MS, director of health services research at the Southern California University of Health Sciences. “Pharmaceutical companies started to jump on board with this idea and began engaging in some pretty aggressive marketing tactics. Now, we have a situation where many hundreds of thousands of opioid prescriptions are dispensed every day in the United States.”
In the midst of this crisis, stakeholders have devised a number of solutions intended to guide the public away from pharmacological pain-relief solutions. One resounding recommendation is for care by hands-on healthcare professionals who offer non-pharmacological care for pain disorders, but even so, there is debate as to which discipline has the answer.
Many studies over the years have shown the benefits of chiropractic as a proven, cost-effective approach to musculoskeletal pain, but where does chiropractic fall in the fight against the opioid epidemic?
“There is a lot of context here as it relates to why chiropractic care as opposed to any other discipline,” says Jay Greenstein, DC, chairman of Clinical Compass. “I think it’s important to understand that in 2016, the Lancet published a paper looking at the global burden of disease. What has been proven in the scientific literature to be effective for the treatment of neck and low back pain is chiropractic. It made so much sense to evaluate chiropractic in the context of opiate utilization because neck and low back pain are literally the world’s biggest problems.”
The search for an answer
To address the gap in literature, Whedon set out to investigate the use of chiropractic as a solution to the opioid crisis.
In 2016, his study, Association between Utilization of Chiropractic Services and Use of Prescription Opioids Among Patients with Low Back Pain, found a 55 percent reduction in the likelihood of people filling prescriptions for opioids in those who received chiropractic care as compared to those who did not.
Furthermore, the charges for filling opioid prescriptions and providing clinical services for chiropractic recipients were 74 percent and 78 percent lower, respectively.
“That’s statistically significant, and it may be a highly clinically significant result as well,” Whedon says. “Seeing this from the point of view of a chiropractor, I would be inclined to say that these results quite possibly stem from the positive clinical changes, reduction in pain, reduction in disability, and so on, that chiropractic delivers these results for the patients and is responsible for the reduced use of opioids. But from the point of view of a scientist, I need to say that what we have here is a correlation, and a correlation simply says these two things are tied together, but we don’t know the reason why.”
According to Whedon, it would be “scientifically irresponsible not to further investigate.”
A follow-up study
Currently underway, Whedon’s second study will explore the same question as the first, but on a much larger scale. He and his team of researchers have expanded the number of subjects from more than 12,000 to over a million, and they are diving deeper into the data.
“We will have access to a lot more data and there is power in that,” Whedon says. “It allows us to cut things a little finer and have more specifically defined cohorts in terms of patient characteristics, diagnoses and treatments, and still have enough subjects to achieve a statistically significant result. To the extent that we’re empowered by richer data, we’ll be able apply more rigorous methods.
Myself and Dr. Jilian have seen firsthand through the years the efficacy, safety and ideal outcomes clinically with the chiropractic care we provide. Though we understand that pain is a SECONDARY CONDITION to a problem elsewhere in the body, by reducing the severity of a subluxation we can measure improved outcomes in our patients. It comes as no surprise to the chiropractic profession to see a study like this. We chose to share it with you because MOST (if not all of you) probably know of someone who is trying to get through their days by utilizing medication. We want to bring an awareness that there are other considerations for those who find themselves in this situation.
We appreciate all of you, make it a healthy week! -Dr. A
Article source: https://www.chiroeco.com/study-chiropractic-opioid-epidemic/