Opioid analgesics are frequently prescribed to manage acute and chronic pain, with over 60 million patients receiving at least one prescription in 2016. Unfortunately, the widespread use of these potent painkillers has contributed to an opioid addiction crisis that has affected the entire nation.
Opioid abuse has significant effects on individuals, their families, and society, both in terms of health and economic burdens. For example, according to a Milliman report, the annual cost of opioid use in the United States is estimated to be as high as 179 billion dollars, covering various expenses such as healthcare, productivity loss, addiction treatment, mortality, support for children and families, and expenses related to criminal justice system involvement.
Every year, numerous individuals suffer from musculoskeletal problems, particularly back and neck pain, resulting in substantial expenses for our healthcare system. Some cases of back or neck issues may require surgery, opioids, or a combination of both as the only available treatments.
Approximately 22 million Americans seek chiropractic care yearly to alleviate the pain caused by various conditions. First, chiropractors focus on identifying the root cause of the patient’s problem. Then, they may use manual therapy techniques, such as spinal and extremity manipulation, to enhance joint function and relieve pain, if necessary.
Chiropractic education programs emphasize the importance of training student interns to identify and manage patients most likely to benefit from conservative manual manipulation. The goal is to relieve pain in patients and potentially reduce the need for opioids or surgery. Another critical aspect of chiropractic education is teaching future healthcare providers to recognize potential health issues and contraindications to manual therapy and to suggest appropriate referral and co-management for various medical conditions. This prepares them to become portal of entry healthcare providers who can provide comprehensive patient care.