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  • Olga V. Ways, DOM, AP Dipl. OM

"Acupuncture Instead of Opioids": Responding to the Nation's Health Crisis

In response to the Nation's crisis of opioids medications abuse, overdose, and death, many health organizations have issued guidelines and recommendations for treating pain. It is recommended that non-pharmacological approaches, including acupuncture, chiropractic, osteopathic and myofascial manipulation, massage therapy and physical therapy should be the first line treatment for pain. Opioids are to be carefully prescribed only if these methods are ineffective. It is also recommended to take in to account patients' psychological status (depression, anxiety, etc.), as well as nutritional health, sleep pattern, social and environmental contributors to pain.

According to the White Paper titled "Acupuncture Role in Solving the Opioid Epidemic: Evidence, Cost-Effectiveness, and Care Availability for Acupuncture as a Primary, Non-Pharmacological Method for Pain Relief and Management", released by acupuncture organizations (Americal Society of Acupuncture, Acupuncture Now Foundation, American Alliance for Professional Acupuncture Safety, American TCM Association, National Federation of TCM Organizations) acupuncture profession is outlined as a valuable alternative to opioid medications for pain relief.

Major points of the White Paper:

* "Acupuncture is an effective, safe, and cost-effective treatment for numerous types of acute and chronic pain. Acupuncture should be recommend as a first line treatment for pain before opiates are prescribed, and may reduce opioid use."

* "Acupuncture's analgesic mechanism have been extensively researched and acupuncture can increase the production and release of endogenous opioids in animals and humans."

* " Acupuncture is effective for the treatment of chronic pain involving maladaptive neuroplasticity."

* "Acupuncture is a useful adjunctive therapy in opiate dependency and rehabilitation."

* "Acupuncture has been recommended as a first line non-pharmacological therapy by the FDA, as well as the National Academics of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in coping with the opioid crisis. The Joint Commission has also mandated that hospitals provide non-pharmacological pain treatment modalities."

* " Among most non-pharmacological managements for pain relief now available, acupuncture therapy is the most effective and specific for opioid abuse and overdose."

Click here, to review the White Paper in its entirety.

Reference: Acupuncture Today, November, 2017, Vol. 18, Issue 11

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