The headline read, 76 billion pain pills in 7 years inundated the U.S. This is according to the Washington Post who reported the following in todays newspaper
“America’s largest drug companies saturated the country with 76 billion oxycodone and hydrocodone pain pills from 2006 through 2012 as the nation’s deadliest drug epidemic spun out of control, according to previously undisclosed company data released as part of the largest civil action in U.S. history.”
76 Billion pain pills is an amount that was incredible. In the United States, we consume more drugs than any other country does per capita. This is a symptom. The problem is the system which includes physicians who enable the use of the drugs, the insurance companies who have made appropriate care more expensive while making the drugs cheaper and of course, big pharma who drove big profits from this. One insurance company are changing and making it cheaper to see those who are more effective in the absence of drugs, while others, continue to reward procedure driven medicine because this is where the profits are.
Now, after being revealed on shows such as 60 minutes, big pharma used its influence to flood the market with these drugs by manipulating the FDA and your medical provider. Most medical providers and pain management specialists have limited knowledge of musculoskeletal disorders and the mechanisms behind why people hurt however, they know how to burn nerves, place nerve blocks and do other procedures. We also have a health industry that is reimbursed much more for risky behaviors and procedures, while primary care and providers such as chiropractors who have the knowledge are underutilized by the system and are underpaid for the services they provide.
The good news is that things are slowly changing. The bad news is that patients routinely visit their primary provider first for painful problems and get the usual cocktail of pain killers and anti inflammatory meds which has little evidence of effectiveness other than placebo. While we are beginning to learn that most chronic pain is mobility related, why isn’t the system using chiropractors more since their holistic approach is more likely to effectively evaluate the person holistically, and use a movement based approach recommended by the annals of internal medicine in 2017?
While the system is slow to change, the patients who are in the system can be better consumers and see a chiropractor first for painful problems in the musculoskeletal system. The fragmentation of care in our system will have you seeing several provider several problems while receiving several medications. This is unique to our country.
The other choice is you can see a chiropractor first and are more likely to get relief faster, and at a lower cost with fewer tests. If you need as referral to a medical provider, they will send you to one.
While hindsight is 20/20, are we creating another drug mess by switching patients to yet another drug or another procedure, when the answer clearly is to see a chiropractor first. Chiropractic is slowly being integrated into the VA, Medicare systems and into industrial medicine, who is saving by having providers who reduce medical testing and get results.
In pain, don’t reach for the medicine, call the chiropractor instead.