Chiropractors Weigh In On Opioid Use

Chiropractors Weigh In On Opioid Use

Ask a chiropractor what he or she thinks about the chronic pain dilemma in the United States and they’ll answer, “a patient should see us first.”

In an interview with the National Pain Report recently, Robert Hayden, DC, PhD, FICC, a Georgia chiropractor and spokesman for the American Chiropractic Association, made the case that because chiropractors go after the source of pain, “we should be among the first to be consulted when pain occurs.”

Dr. Hayden’s comments came days before the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress  (F4CP) issued a press release calling attention to a new report published online by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spotlighting the increase in heroin use and overdose-related death in the U.S. The press release said dependency on opioid painkiller dependency is the strongest risk factor for heroin use and dependence.

Our interview with Dr. Hayden was not related to this release and we will be publishing a story on his interview in more depth later in July, but it was obvious in our discussion that the theme of trying to get at the source of pain before narcotic pain medicine is prescribed and interventional pain procedures are performed is a strong belief of the chiropractic community.

“As a nation, we are experiencing an alarming substance abuse epidemic, and the public must take the appropriate steps to become educated on the safer, low-risk pain relief alternatives that are available,” said Gerard Clum, DC, spokesperson, F4CP, who notes that even commonly used over-the-counter drugs, including acetaminophen, have been documented as ineffective and potentially harmful when overused. “Evidence confirms that the drug-free care provided by a doctor of chiropractic often yields better clinical outcomes and greater patient satisfaction.”

According to the release, in 2012, more than 259 million painkiller prescriptions were written – enough for every U.S. adult to have an individual bottle of pills. Additionally, the latest research concludes that individuals who abuse prescription opioids are more than 40 percent more likely to use heroin. In an effort to prevent the potential of misuse, abuse, addiction and/or fatality related to utilization of opioids and heroin, F4CP representatives point out that doctors of chiropractic (DCs) have specialty diagnostic skills and training to evaluate and provide appropriate care and rehabilitation, including offering advice on general health and wellness.

“Opioid painkillers have become a catalyst fueling this nation’s drug crisis,” says Dr. Clum. “This epidemic cannot get worse before it gets better. We must implement a call-to-action today, inform the public of safer, effective alternatives for pain management, and protect the lives of thousands of individuals who fall victim to the preventable fatalities linked to the misuse and abuse of opioid painkillers and heroin.”

Editor’s Note: The National Pain Report is interested in all approaches to pain care. Feel free to comment on this story below. Also, we are interested in other alternative approaches to treating pain. Let us know what you’ve tried. You can always contact me via email editor@nationalpainreport.com

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Authored by: Ed Coghlan

There are 15 comments for this article
  1. BL at 11:53 am

    Chiropractors don’t have medical training. Non medical treatment has its place in some cases in addition to medical treatment by M.D. But it should never be used instead of medical treatment because it is a gamble.

  2. Robert R. Cuminale at 11:05 pm

    I’ll admit that I have a low opinion of Chiropractors and their co-conspirators the settlement attorneys. I had many of them as customers when I was in business. The collusion in referrals and attorneys paying them from escrow and deducting the payments from a client’s settlement from an insurance company disgusted me. Especially when I saw that they were not paying hospitals and emergency rooms.
    An additional reason.
    I had a 30 year old employee who was having shoulder pain. He went to a Chiropractor two times a week. Over a three month period my employee developed an inability to use his arm and also his legs. He was no longer able to work. I convinced him to go to a Orthopedic doctor who sent him for an MRI. This man had Non-Hodkins Lymphoma which had metastasized in all his joints. He died 8 months later despite two rounds of chemotherapy after surgery to remove some of the tumors.
    I was angry at the Chiropractor who kept having this man come in despite his health continuing to go down hill. I can’t help but feel that this Chiropractor would have been treating this young man right up until he expired. When do these guys admit that a problem may be beyond their ability?

  3. John S at 3:24 pm

    For all the Veterans in pain I would like to point out a new program started by a Chiropractor.
    Most of the veterans they treat are there for chronic pain.

    Dr. Tim Novelli a Chiropractor started the ” Patriot-project, Tim is a friend of my Chiropractor Dr. Clifton Suess. The program provides care for veterans Free of Charge. They don’t want a cent for treating Vets.

    I’m not sure what the web address is but I’m sure if you GOOGLE the name – Patriot-project – it should be easy to find. The providers are listed by the State you live in. If you have a question or you have any trouble finding the site please let me know.

    Thank you,

    John S

  4. BL at 6:43 pm

    John S, your son isn’t being treated for his chronic pain he is being treated for substance abuse. Depending on what his medical records say, he may not be able to be treated for chronic pain because his medical records say he is in Methadone Maintance Treatment for drug addiction.

  5. Dennis Kinch at 9:50 am

    I’ve been on my 3 opioid meds for 10 years now. I have had a high quality of life because of them. I went off each one, and all of them a couple of times, went through the whole, week long withdrawal thing, and as the withdrawal symptoms subsided, the pain came on like gangbusters. I’d rather not be on my meds, but I thank God everyday for them. I will NEVER be a drug addict. I’m just not the addict type. Like Chiropractic, it’s not for everyone, but it works for me. Chiro couldn’t touch my disease or my pain. Neither could herbs for that matter. Better living through chemistry!

  6. Emily Ullrich at 10:06 pm

    I’m sure that chiropractics can be of help. but I would think of them more like adjunctive therapy for those of us bad off enough to use narcotics. “Opioid painkillers have become a catalyst fueling this nation’s drug crisis,” says Dr. Clum….” I am tired of this misleading statement, and the one which always follows, linking heroin and pain pill use as one in the same, and abuse and use as one in the same. I have been on pain meds for 8 years. I have never once been “high” on them, and I’ve NEVER considered heroin use! The real correlation between the two is that pain patients are being forced to fend for themselves, and find relief on the streets (with drugs like heroin) because the government has scared doctors out of doing their jobs when it comes to pain, and society has shamed pain patients out of seeking medications they may need.

  7. Dennis Kinch at 9:24 pm

    I must point out a few things you got wrong. First of all: What do you mean by “the source of pain?” I really wish, when practitioners of alternative treatment use terms, they try to use them in terms of reality also. Yes, chiropractic can do amazing things with certain kinds of diseases and injuries but it will always require 3 things, a chiropractor who knows what they’re doing, disease or injury where the muscles are the source of the pain, and willing patients who believe in chiropractic healing.

    Although it is of no use to me now and may even be dangerous in the wrong hands, I did use it a lot, for years, when I played sports. It was helpful some of the time and I did believe in it. I still do. But having bone pain from bone tumors and fractures from a bone marrow disease just can’t be treated by chiropractic means. It would be painful and possibly dangerous or harmful to me. Most of us, like those with nerve diseases or muscle wasting diseases are in a high level of pain and we need very, very strong medicines just to have half decent quality of lives. And most times, it is permanent and not curable.

    The other thing is, some DEA agent is reading this article and they’re saying to themselves, “See! I knew it! This is how drug addicts are born! They first abuse their prescribed meds and then become addicted! That’s why we must stop them! Yes! I will arrest a few more tomorrow and then maybe pass that law further limiting their ability to get the drugs they need.”

    So although I love what you do for a living, please, be very careful what you say. In chronic pain, a lot of it isn’t from sore muscles, trigger points, release points or misalignment. And there are those with some diseases you just can’t help. When you say “everyone” try narrowing it down a little more. I know you mean well and believe me, as I’ve always done, when I see someone you could help, I’ll send them your way! OK?

  8. Donna at 5:16 pm

    I tried chiropractic therapy. I did not get any results after several months, and actually got worse. Don’t know why it didn’t work for me. Too bad in America, we can’t use insurance for wellness care to include alternative therapies. If we could get massage, chiropractic care and other modalities before damage begins, we would save money and time.

  9. Kristi M at 5:11 pm

    I would never go to a Chiropractor first at all! I have a genetic disease called EDS (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome) and if I had went to a Chiropractor over these years before my diagnosis, I would have been severely injured. I think patients need to know what is causing the pain first by their Primary physician before going straight to a Chiropractor. I do OMT therapy and that is what works best for me because I’m getting my body put back in place by different techniques then just straight up cracking a body part back into place. It’s a much gentler way to manipulate your body using OMT treatments. And who is he to be the one “leading” the way on too much opioid usage? There are so many people in this decade that are suffering from more diseases than ever and living in chronic pain is not the life I want to lead! So thank you Dr, but I will continue to use my Butrans patch and Morphine! There is a difference between addiction and dependency. I am dependent on my narcotics but I am not looking for the high, I’m looking for pain relief! And with the crackdown on narcotics being passed out by Pain Management Dr’s is beyond crazy! They know who the junkies are. Millions of people live in chronic pain everyday and don’t ever get a true diagnosis! So I say, be your own advocate as a patient and research and keep going to Dr’s until you find out your diagnosis! See ya Dr Chiro!

  10. BL at 1:23 pm

    Chiropractors can cause more harm than good. Although they can be helpful for some, everyone needs to be causious when seeing a Chiropractor.

  11. LouisVA at 12:00 pm

    The article says “Dr. Hayden’s comments came days before the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress (F4CP) issued a press release calling attention to a new report published online by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spotlighting the increase in heroin use and overdose-related death in the U.S. The press release said dependency on opioid painkiller dependency is the strongest risk factor for heroin use and dependence.”

    “Opioid painkillers have become a catalyst fueling this nation’s drug crisis,” says Dr. Clum. “This epidemic cannot get worse before it gets better. We must implement a call-to-action today, inform the public of safer, effective alternatives for pain management, and protect the lives of thousands of individuals who fall victim to the preventable fatalities linked to the misuse and abuse of opioid painkillers and heroin.”

    Where does this data come from? “Opioid painkillers have become a catalyst fueling this nation’s drug crisis,” says Dr. Clum. Is this statement a proven fact or an opinion? As a chronic intractable pain patient that has suffered nearly all of my 65 years, I have tried many, many different therapies to find relief including chiropractic treatment with little to no relief. I realize that opioid treatment is not a first-line treatment and I have tried many, many different treatments over many years but it must be understood that opioids have a place in pain treatment for those of us that have tried treatment after treatment with no relief. In 2010, I could no longer stand the pain and sought help from Dr. Forest Tennant, a well- known pain specialist in West Covina, California. He determined that my excruciating pain had become “centralized” and began opioid treatment. For an explanation of centralized pain, please see and read his articles “Centralized Pain”: A New Consensus Phrase, May, 2012 and “The Critical Necessity to Diagnose Pain That Is Centralized,” April, 2012. In laymen’s terms, centralized pain is a condition where a person has had chronic pain for such a long time that the brain and nervous system have been “re-wired” to where pain is the normal state.

    I am now having the highest quality of life I have ever had as an adult. I can now do things that I could not do before this opioid therapy. I can do physical work that I could not do in the past. In contradiction to a lot of press releases (and the thinking of many pain care physicians) that say this starts a never ending spiral of increased doses and finally addiction, I have to strongly disagree. I have been on the same dose for over five years and the dose is still effective and I AM NOT ADDICTED. I am dependent (meaning if I suddenly stopped taking my medications, I would go through withdrawals) but I am not addicted as addiction is a loss of control and has a negative impact on life. Addicted individuals will keep taking opioids regardless of the consequences.

    In summary, opioid treatment is a last resort type of therapy after trying less drastic therapies that have not helped. I agree that there are too many people on opioids but for some people it is necessary. Leaving someone in excruciating pain because of irrational fears and biases surrounding opioids is tantamount to torture, thus should be unconstitutional. IT IS DEMEANING TO HAVE TO BEG FOR PAIN RELIEF!

  12. John S at 10:50 am

    My Chiropractor of some 20 plus years has done wonders for my pain I got off disability because my Chiropractor used other modalities to treat my pain

    After all those years and eleven low back operations – severe CHRONIC PAIN – It’s my Chiro that says ” John you would die if you were taken off pain meds ”

    He still treats me for flare-ups but he knows he can only do so much.

    Thank you,

    John S

  13. Rachel at 10:28 am

    I have Klippel feil syndrome and I saw chiropractors before other doctors and would love to be able to have relief from my pain with that type of treatment but because of the KFS chiropractor care was more risky than the pain medications I’m on.