Arlington, Va. - The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) applauds the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for working to stem the nation's opioid overuse epidemic with its newly issued Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain. ACA encourages patients and healthcare providers to first consider exhausting conservative forms of pain management before initiating higher-risk options such as opioids.
"There are effective conservative treatments that help many patients lessen reliance on addictive painkillers and get back to their normal lives and activities," said ACA President David Herd, DC.
"Chiropractic physicians, for example, are well positioned to play a vital role in the conservative management of acute and chronic pain. They offer complementary and integrative strategies, as well as guidance on self care, that can provide needed relief for many who suffer from pain."
The CDC's guideline, released on March 15, offers a framework for primary care physicians treating patients for chronic pain, which is defined by health officials as pain that lasts more than three months or doesn't dissipate after the amount of time the injury or illness typically resolves. More than half of all opioids used in the United States are prescribed by primary care physicians in outpatient settings, and according to CDC, at least 40 people in the U.S. die each day from an opioid overdose.
Chiropractic physicians have long been concerned about the growing reliance on prescription medications for pain. At last month's annual meeting of the ACA's House of Delegates in Washington, D.C., delegates adopted a policy statement in response to the dual public health concerns of inadequate pain management and opioid abuse. The new policy supports the investigation of nonpharmacologic interventions for pain treatment across a variety of patient populations and healthcare delivery settings; the promotion of evidence-based nonpharmacologic therapies within best practice models for pain management; the improvement of access to providers of nonpharmacologic therapies; interprofessional education to augment the training of pain management teams; and public health campaigns to raise awareness of drug-free treatment options for pain syndromes.
According to Dr. Herd, ACA's new policy statement is part of the chiropractic profession's ongoing efforts to educate the public about the value of exhausting non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical approaches for pain management before moving on to higher risk options. This health care model encourages, when appropriate, the use of more cost-effective and safer approaches over potentially addictive medications, surgery and other invasive procedures for pain management.