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An Opioid Exit Strategy, how chiropractors may hold the key

The number of people who die from opioid overdoses leaving families torn apart and loved ones reeling has been increasing at an alarming rate. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has seen five times the number of deaths from prescription and illegal opioids since 1999. This public health emergency is being addressed by government at many levels, but the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress thinks it can change that, with its “conservative care first” approach.

“For the most part, pain is what brings people through our doors, there are two types both chronic and acute.” explained Dr. Scott Colman with the Hetrick Center.

People living with chronic pain will tell you: it changes your life on all levels, emotionally and physically.

Dr. Colman offers an alternative to living in pain and it doesn’t involve opioids.

“If someone has a pebble in their shoe you can take a lot meds to cover the pain but we’re more interested in what we can do to remove the pebble from the shoe.”

It sounds simple but doctors say treating pain is tricky. If you can remove the pebble from the shoe the pain stops, and in ideal cases so does the desire for pain meds.

Dr. Colman and the Hetrick Center offer a multi-dimensional drug-free approach to pain treatment, combining physical therapy, chiropractic care, aquatic therapy, and nutrition in a combined plan.

“It’s a multi-pronged approach that hopefully especially if they’re motivated and most are, if they want to get out of pain we have solutions.” explained Dr. Colman.

Dr. Colman says greater awareness of the opioid crisis and doctors handing out fewer prescriptions have more people coming in asking about alternatives to opioids, whether for long term pain or recovery from surgery.

“It’s a beautiful mix where we can mobilize, stabilize and we can decrease how tight the muscle is through massage,” said Dr. Mary Colman.

Dr. Allison Benedetto, the President of the PA Chiropractic Association.

“We are asking state and federal governments within their authority to mandate that patients with these common muscular-skeletal pains that they should seek treatment first from a conservative care provider such as a doctor of chiropractic.”

The Foundation for Chiropractic Progress wants to bring their alternative to opioids to the forefront of the addiction crisis.

Laws have already been changed in several states to provide equal insurance reimbursement for all providers offering “conservative care” treatment. Getting the pebble out of the shoe is a great metaphor for how chiropractic care starts with a deeper approach to treating pain.

“We’re not just treating the injury, we’re treating the whole patient. Like my husband said, we have these wonderful jobs where we can make people feel better but we can also teach them lifestyle changes that could impact their injury and their overall body.” said Dr. Mary Colman.

The Foundation for Chiropractic Progress is working on legislation nationwide to improve awareness and affordability of “conservative care treatment.”

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