Chiropractic is a safer first-line option for pain management than prescription opioid painkillers for fibromyalgia patients and others with chronic pain, numerous speakers insisted at a March 21 healthcare industry briefing hosted by the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress (F4CP).
Marc Siegel, MD, Fox News Health commentator and professor of medicine at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, praised the chiropractic profession for its drug-free approach to the management of back and neck pain.
“Chiropractors are not the problem,” Siegel said, according to a press release issued after the National Press Club briefing in Washington, D.C. “In fact, zero percent of chiropractors actually prescribe opioids. Primary-care doctors are responsible for 28 percent of the problem, and let me tell you why: someone comes to us for back pain, and maybe we understand that the back is a tight compartment of muscle, nerve and bone, but maybe we don’t know which is causing the problem. So, what do primary care doctors do? They start trying to medicate to get the patient feeling better.”
Other presentations echoed this position.
Jan Chambers, founder and president of the National Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Association, mentioned her own experience with chronic pain and her views on the value of drug-free care. “Opioids are contraindicative for fibromyalgia, and when you understand that pain – severe chronic pain – is a hallmark of fibromyalgia, it leaves us in a world of hurt,” she said.
Wayne Jonas, MD, executive director of Samueli Integrative Health Programs, said that about 15 percent of patients are genetically predisposed to becoming addicted to opioids — which is why other effective approaches are needed. Jonas said an integrative health approach — combining the best evidence-based practices from all areas — is the solution.
David Thomas, PhD, program officer at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said clinicians have almost no training in pain management and this is an urgent matter to address. Meanwhile, Linda Porter, PhD, director of the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Pain Policy, said one of the lessons of the current U.S. opioid epidemic is to provide better pain management without drugs.
Finally, Kent S. Greenawalt, chairman of F4CP, said the opioid abuse problem was epidemic because it is national in scope, it touches all geographic areas and affects all communities. “There are over 60,000 chiropractors in the U.S. bringing pain relief to millions of patients, all without drugs and surgery,” he said. “Proven clinical research studies demonstrate not only the safety of chiropractic, but also the effectiveness of care.”