That title may be a mouthful, but it means that chiropractors got a significant boost in early November 2022 when the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updated its Clinical Practice Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Pain. For managing acute, subacute, and chronic pain, its recommendations—which are directed at clinicians providing pain care, including those prescribing opioids—proved to be robustly out of favor with opioid prescription and in favor of “noninvasive nonpharmacologic approaches for acute pain management.”
At the top of the list for treatments qualifying within this recommendation is chiropractic adjustment of the spine for pain management. “We are excited to see that the CDC acknowledges and recommends spinal manipulation (chiropractic adjustment) as an effective, safe alternative to pain medications,” says Dr. Rick Gross of Quality Care Chiropractic.
For a long time, research has supported the importance of chiropractic care and manipulation in pain relief and reduction. The CDC giving such clear recommendations and guidelines is a big step in the right direction that is important to patients. It means that the information will continue to be shared with insurers, chiropractic physicians, state policymakers, and federal officials. To understand this further, let’s explore several crucial highlights from the study.
Opioids commonly are prescribed for pain relief, but the CDC questioned the long-term effectiveness of this practice and observed that doctors need to find alternatives. The study found that although medication treatments benefit patients in the short term, they don’t really treat the problem. Medications only mask symptoms in the moment and can create dependencies long after their intended usefulness.
Dr. Gross adds, “Medical doctors stay in the realm of medications for pain relief. They do report that opioids are higher risk and that they are trying to find better solutions for their patients, but they just offer NSAIDs or other types of medication. Their solution always appears to be medications.”
As an alternative to these addictive medications, the CDC guideline states, “Evidence exists that multiple noninvasive nonpharmacologic interventions improve chronic pain and function…. Compared with medication treatment… [these] interventions are associated with improvements in pain, function, or both that are sustained after completion of treatment.”
“What’s different about chiropractic care,” explains Dr. Gross, “is that we offer a nonpharmacological solution. The results are safer and longer lasting and have beneficial side effects that have stood the test of time. As such, we do not have to keep coming up with a different solution. We know the solution—you need an adjustment!”
The CDC guideline agrees that “noninvasive nonpharmacologic approaches to acute pain have the potential to improve pain and function without risk for serious harms,” further citing that effective treatments include “spinal manipulation for acute back pain with radiculopathy.”
The CDC also cited the American College of Physicians recommendation of “nonpharmacologic treatment with superficial heat, massage, acupuncture, or spinal manipulation as a cornerstone of treatment for acute low back pain.”
Unfortunately, says Dr. Gross, “Insurance typically pays only a small portion of chiropractic care, so for some people that becomes a barrier to getting adjusted.”
The CDC guideline highlights this problem, stating that “despite evidence supporting their use, noninvasive nonpharmacologic therapies are not always or fully covered by insurance, and access and cost can be barriers, particularly for persons who are uninsured, have limited income, have transportation challenges, or live in rural areas where treatments are not available.”
Since the limited access to nonopioid pain management modalities is the problem, the CDC included a significant provision, urging that “health insurers and health systems can improve pain management and reduce medication use and associated risks by increasing reimbursement for and access to noninvasive nonpharmacologic therapies with evidence for effectiveness.”
The recommendations of the CDC mirror the rationale already being used by the Illinois Chiropractic Society in its recent efforts to include additional chiropractic services under medical coverages of insurers, Medicare, and Medicaid.
But until the focus changes at a systemic level, says Dr. Gross, “At Quality Care Chiropractic, we keep our prices very low to help accommodate people’s budgets.”
If you have any questions about chiropractic care and its noninvasive nonpharmacologic approach for acute pain management, contact us at Quality Care Chiropractic in Aurora, IL, at (630) 499-2225 to learn how we can help get you back to whole-body health.Schedule an Appointment