The National Opioids Crisis

As a drugless, natural healing health care profession, ICA holds that chiropractic integrative health policy represents a powerful and essential element in the national campaign to reduce both opioid addiction and the tendency to over prescribe medication for the management of pain.  In January of 2018, the ICA submitted commentsto the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Comparative Effectiveness Review Draft entitled,“Noninvasive, Nonpharmacological Treatment for Chronic Pain: A Systematic Review”. The goal was to develop better informed guidelines and health policy.  The report will become the latest response from an agency within the US Department of Health and Human Services to the federal government’s call for solutions to the chronic pain management crisis that has led to the over prescribing of opioids, addiction, and opioid-related deaths. The full text of the ICA’s comments can be accessed here.

Upon studying the new report, ICA’s Director of Government Relations Beth Clay stated, “While I applaud the effort to gather the evidence on the benefit of drugless options for pain management, suggesting that this systematic review encompasses the entire universe of drugless options is misleading.  The truth, which ICA pointed out in its submission, is that chiropractic care was not substantially reviewed or considered. While such terms as ‘mind-body’ and ‘acupuncture’ were specifically included, we found that the term ‘chiropractic’ was not included in the search terms used to gather research papers and appears only once in passing in the more than 200-page report.”


Dr. Stephen Welsh, ICA Vice-President and co-author of the ICA response stated, “It is inconceivable to suggest that 20 different therapies can be comprehensively reviewed with just 200 research papers, which is what occurred for this report.  For spinal manipulation, only eight papers were reviewed. ICA continues to engage with policy makers to correct the record and to call for greater inclusion of chiropractic across federal programs. Chiropractic care should receive greater promotion as a first line of care for many types of pain and will not sit quietly by if a federal report has inaccuracies or will harm the profession by misrepresenting the research data related to chiropractic care. This country is in a chronic pain management crisis, and our chiropractors are an essential part of the solution.”


Ms. Clay added, “This AHRQ report and the weaknesses of the study design highlight why it is so important for ICA to actively engage with government officials involved in research and health policy. We have a continued need to educate about the profession, advise on research study design, and policies that affect the chiropractic profession and the millions of patients of all ages who rely on chiropractic as a central part of their personal health care.”

ICA has endorsed the concise and practical educational resource “Beyond Medications” developed by the Integrative Health Policy Consortium (IHPC) to assist health care professionals and consumers understand non-pharmaceutical and non-opioid care pathways for pain and other health issues.  For a copy of this resource, click here.

“The input and leadership of ICA’s Vice President Dr. Stephen Welsh, working within the IHPC process, was vital to the development of this important tool which will help millions avoid opioid exposure and all of the proven and largely avoidable negative consequences,” said ICA Government Relations Director Beth Clay.  “Drug free options such as chiropractic care are preferred by a majority of Americans for pain management according to a recent Gallup-Palmer College study,” she continued.

The ICA has mobilized on a variety of issues to assist public policy makers, the media and consumers in understanding the importance and urgency of utilizing chiropractic care as a first line of intervention for many common conditions and situations. ICA’s Vice President Dr. StephenWelsh and the IHPC are co-chairing an opioid task force.  ICA is working with the IHPC to produce educational materials on the importance of allowing access to integrative healers as a first step in caring for patients who will otherwise likely be prescribed pharmaceuticals.

ICA commends and applauds the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress (F4CP) for their recent publication of, Chiropractic: A Safer Strategy than Opioids, which has proven to be one of the most effective and compelling resources the chiropractic profession has to deploy on this issue. The paper offers evidence that supports a more widespread and early utilization of chiropractic in combating the national opioids crisis.  “The current national focus on opioids and their human and financial costs and the damage they are doing simply highlight the need to maintain chiropractic as a drugless approach to health and healing,” said ICA President Dr. George Curry.  “ICA urges the maximum utilization of the F4CP paper in educating decision-makers at all levels of government and for all DCs to support the Foundation in their important work.”  For a copy of this important resource, click here.

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