FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Media Contact: Mr. Chad Robinson
WVCS Executive Director
PH: 304.345.9219

Chiropractic: A Safe Treatment Option for Opioids

Charleston, WV, April 10, 2018 – On March 27, 2018 – West Virginia Governor Jim Justice signed Senate Bill 273, “Reducing Use of Certain Prescription Drugs” into law effective June 7, 2018. The purpose of Senate Bill 273 is to reduce the overuse of prescriptions of opioids and create a method to provide alternative treatment plans rather than prescribing. Senate Bill 273 benefits the Chiropractic profession in West Virginia and provides for Doctors of Chiropractic to treat pain while decreasing the amount of prescriptions in our state.

The West Virginia Chiropractic Society and many Doctors of Chiropractic waged a necessary battle at the State Capitol to include alternative treatment methods, such as chiropractic services, prior to prescribing opioids for acute and chronic pain to state residents. Doctors of Chiropractic have the support of the majority of WV Legislators to help combat the opioid epidemic in West Virginia. Alternative treatment methods are now a mandatory requirement of all new patients with acute and chronic pain.

Along with the mandatory requirement for alternative treatment, Senate Bill 273 requires the Public Employee Insurance Agency (PEIA), the State Medicaid and any insurance provider in West Virginia to cover these alternative treatment plans. At least 20 visits per case must be covered as stipulated in the approved version of Senate Bill 273.

Inadequate pain management coupled with the epidemic of prescription opioid overuse and abuse has taken a severe toll on the lives of tens of thousands of people in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as many as one in four patients who receive prescription opioids long term for non-cancer pain in primary care settings struggles with addiction. Every day, more than 1,000 people are treated in the ER for misusing prescription opioids.
Deaths involving opioids have quadrupled since 1999; in 2014 alone, more than 14,000 people died from overdoses involving the drugs. That same year, another 2 million people abused or were dependent on opioids.

Beyond the risks of addiction and overdose, prescription drugs that numb pain may convince a patient that a musculoskeletal condition is less severe than it is or that it has healed. This misunderstanding can lead to overexertion and a delay in the healing process…or even permanent injury. Chiropractic and other conservative (non-drug) approaches to pain management can be an important first line of defense against pain and addiction caused by the overuse of prescription opioid pain medications.

There is a growing body of research that validates the effectiveness of chiropractic services, leading many respected health care organizations to recommend chiropractic and its drug-free approach to pain relief.

In 2017, the American College of Physicians (ACP) updated its guidelines for the treatment of acute and chronic low back pain to recommend first using non-invasive, non-drug treatments before resorting to drug therapies. ACP’s guidelines, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine and based on a review of randomized controlled trials and observational studies, cite heat therapy, massage, acupuncture and spinal manipulation (a centerpiece of chiropractic care) as possible options for non-invasive, non-drug therapies for low back pain. Only when such treatments provide little or no relief, the guidelines state, should patients move on to medicines such as ibuprofen or muscle relaxants, which research indicates have limited pain-relief effects. According to the guidelines, prescription opioids should be a last resort for those suffering from low back pain, as the risk of addiction and overdose may outweigh the benefits. (Listen to a podcast about this study by clicking the link above.)

In March 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidelines for prescribing opioids that also promote non-pharmacologic alternatives for the treatment of chronic pain. In 2015, the Joint Commission, the organization that accredits more than 20,000 health care systems in the U.S., including every major hospital, recognized the value of non-drug approaches by adding chiropractic and acupuncture to its pain management standard.

Opioid painkiller drugs mask pain. They do not cure it. Prescription drugs that numb pain in some cases may convince a patient that a musculoskeletal condition is less severe than it is, or that it has healed. This misunderstanding can lead to over-exertion and a delay in the healing process, or even lead to permanent injury. Chiropractic physicians are skilled in the most conservative treatment methods to alleviate pain and urge patients and other health care providers, where appropriate, to exhaust these options before resorting to riskier and more invasive treatments such as drugs and surgery.
Prescribers of Opioid Painkillers in the United States:
– Primary Care MDs: 28.8%
– Internists: 14.6%
– Orthopedic Surgeons: 7.7%
– Chiropractic Physicians: 0.0%

Source: Practice Analysis of Chiropractic, 2015, NBCE. J. Morris, H.R. Mir. The Opioid Epidemic: Impact on Orthopedic Surgery. Journal of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, 2015; 23 (5): 267 DOI: 10.5435/JAAOS-D-14-00163.

Source: Lauretti, William, April 10, 2018. “Chiropractic and the Opioid Epidemic: Rethinking Our Approach to Pain”

# # #

About the West Virginia Chiropractic Society (WVCS):
The West Virginia Chiropractic Society was founded in 1951. The WVCS is proud to represent the profession of Chiropractic in West Virginia, who take a leading role in an individual’s overall chiropractic care, health, and well-being. Doctors of Chiropractic (DCs) care for patients of all ages, with a variety of health conditions. DCs are especially well known for their expertise in caring for patients with back pain, neck pain and headaches…particularly with their highly skilled manipulations or chiropractic adjustments. They also care for patients with a wide range of injuries and disorders of the musculoskeletal system, involving the muscles, ligaments and joints. These painful conditions often involve or impact the nervous system, which can cause referred pain and dysfunction distant to the region of injury. The benefits of chiropractic care extend to general health issues, as well, since our body structure affects our overall function. DCs also counsel patients on diet, nutrition, exercise, healthy habits, and occupational and lifestyle modification. For additional information about the WVCS, please go to

About the American Chiropractic Association (ACA):
The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) is the largest professional chiropractic organization in the United States. The ACA attracts the most principled and accomplished chiropractors, who understand that it takes more to be called an ACA chiropractor. They are leading our profession in the most constructive and far-reaching ways — by working hand in hand with other health care professionals, by lobbying for pro-chiropractic legislation and policies, by supporting meaningful research and by using that research to inform our treatment practices. They also provide professional and educational opportunities for all our members and are committed to being a positive and unifying force for the practice of modern chiropractic.