People all over the US are dealing with the current opioid epidemic. The problem is so bad that an estimated 130 people die every day from an opioid-related overdose. Lawmakers, addiction experts, and organizations are trying to keep the situation under control.
Now it also looks like chiropractors could be a part of the solution. Chiropractic care has proven successful for patients struggling with opioid addiction.
Chiropractors are known for their drug-free treatment solution that involves spinal adjustments. It’s natural, it’s painless, and it is non-invasive. Therefore, chiropractic care offers the same pain relief as opioids, but without the risk of developing an addiction.
While this drug-free option is growing in popularity, one doctor in Ohio is speaking up about how difficult it is to access. Right now there are barriers keeping some patients from getting relief without using prescription medications.
Dr. Patrick Ensminger said: “There exist significant insurance barriers to the public seeking pain management.”
While the demand for chiropractic care is surging, Esminger said a limited number of patients can actually access his services. This is despite the FDA touting this alternative pain treatment option. Physician groups recommend it as well.
For some patients, it is simply a matter of distrust towards alternative treatment methods, or their unfamiliarity towards chiropractic care and how it works. This lack of information serves as one of the barriers towards proper pain management. Patients could be getting results without the side effects of opioids, but they are hesitant to try spinal manipulation or adjustments.
“We are attempting to create a sea change towards increased access to and coverage for chiropractic care,” said Ensminger.
One recent study in the medical journal BMJ shows that patients who visited a chiropractor first decreased their odds of both early and long term opioid use by 90 percent.
“That data hopefully will lead many medical physicians to begin increasing referrals to doctors of chiropractic and other drug-free care,” said Ensminger.
One of Esminger’s patients, Paul Byrd, has experienced both opioids and chiropractic treatment first-hand. Byrd has been in several car accidents, and they have left him with lasting injuries including lower back pains and mid-back pains.
Byrd said that he “found relief in pain pills and opioids. It takes more and more to get there and get deeper in that hole”.
He got hooked on opioids, saying he started to “rely on these pills just to feel normal”.
After a few run-ins with the police, Byrd decided to get sober. This is what led him to Dr. Ensminger.
“You see a lot more people saying I’m coming here because I don’t want drug-based care,” said Byrd. “Once I got clean, I started looking for an alternative route.”
Under his Medicaid plan, Byrd gets 15 chiropractic visits a year. He is now down to his last one. “It’s not waking me up in the middle of the night anymore,” he said. “You don’t have to worry about the addiction”. Dr. Esminger said he will continue caring for Byrd even when his coverage runs out.
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