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Prescription pad not the only path to pain relief

Chiropractic provides relief and a solution for suffers looking to avoid medication

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Ann Smith (not her real name) suffered from a ligament condition that resulted in back spasms several times a year, leaving her doubled over in pain and in the emergency room. The only relief for her pain — and to be able to stand upright again — was a three-to-five day dose of a prescribed narcotic. As a recovering alcoholic/drug addict, this was far from an ideal course of treatment.

Over the course of six years, the excruciating pain and emergency trip visits continued. Finally, Smith was referred to Advanced Medicine Integration Group. AMI creates and designs innovative alternative treatment program for RI Medicaid patients suffering from chronic pain conditions. Working with AMI, Smith began a combined program of chiropractic and occasional massage therapy. The end result has been a stronger spine with only one emergency room visit in the past two years — after averaging six per year before chiropractic.

Smith is just one story of how chiropractic care offers a preventative alternative that steers patients clear of the need for prescription pain killers other than in extreme circumstances. As a recovering alcoholic/drug addict, Smith had more of an awareness of the addictive nature of prescription pain killers. Many others who are prescribed pain killers aren’t as informed. This lack of awareness has resulted in some rather staggering numbers.

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, of the 21.5 million Americans age 12 or older who had a substance use disorder in 2014, 1.9 million had a substance abuse disorder involving prescription pain relievers. That year, more than 14,000 people died from overdoses involving these drugs, with the most commonly overdosed opioids including Methadone, Oxycodone, and Hydrocodone.
According to the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons, more than 30 percent of Americans have a musculoskeletal condition that requires medical attention. For those with chronic pain, that can often include prescription pain killers.

“People are prescribed opioids for back, low back and neck pain, headaches, neuro-musculoskeletal conditions and other related conditions,” said Dr. Michael Gottfried, president of the Chiropractic Society of Rhode Island (CSRI) and chiropractic physician at Aquidneck Chiropractic in Middletown. “These are all conditions that can be lessened and possibly prevented with conservative chiropractic care that can reduce spinal stress (subluxation) — without the need for drugs.”

While providing a drug free solution for many conditions, chiropractic has an economic benefit as well. According to Optum, a leading information and technology-enabled health services business dedicated to helping make the health system work better for everyone, it costs twice as much to treat musculoskeletal conditions by methods other than chiropractic. For companies, this means tremendous savings. For every $1 spent by a company to have a health care plan that includes chiropractic, there is a savings of $2 from the health care plan's medical expenditures.

That takes on greater meaning with the newest estimates on the cost of opioid abuse to U.S. employers. Modern Healthcare magazine estimates those costs to be at $18 billion in sick days, lost productivity and medical expenses.

As for Smith, the benefits of chiropractic extend far sustaining her sobriety and a reduction in pain, “I feel better physically and it improves my overall mood, as well,” she said. “Not having to go to the emergency room makes me pretty happy, too.”

Adds Dr. Gottfried, “With the crisis in opioid addiction and the overdose epidemic, RI Medicaid is being urged to expand the program beyond the very limited population within Medicaid that currently is allowed access to the program. Citizens are urged to contact their legislators and the governor to request expansion of this vital program that is saving lives, improving health outcomes, and reducing the tax burden on RI citizens.”

For more information on how chiropractic can be part of your pain management program, you can find a chiropractor at the Chiropractic Society of Rhode Island website at richiro.org.

"Ann Smith" is a real patient of a Rhode Island chiropractor. Her name and location have been withheld to protect her privacy.

Dr. Clive Bridgham is a member of the Chiropractic Society of Rhode Island and a practitioner at Barrington Chiropractic and Sports Medicine Clinic (barringtonchiro.com) in Barrington. For more information or to find a chiropractor near you, visit richiro.org.




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