Initial Chiropractic Care Decreases Opioid Use

Written by: James Demetrious, DC, DABCO

The Problem

The national opioid epidemic exacts a terrible toll on our society. “The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported over 42,000 prescription opioid-related deaths in 2016, with total estimated costs of prescription opioid use reaching US $78.5 billion.” [1]

A Solution

The literature is clear. Patients who initially seek chiropractic care before other health care providers experience less opioid use, surgical interventions, morbidity, and cost.

In their paper published in the British Medical Journal, Kazis et al. report that initial visits to chiropractors for new-onset low back pain is associated with substantially decreased early and long-term use of opioids:

In a paper published by Hurwitz et al., the authors reported, “Chiropractic care alone or DC with MD care incurred appreciably fewer charges for uncomplicated neck pain and complicated neck pain compared to MD care with or without PT care, when care included referral providers or services.” [2]

A Question of Timing

Having practiced since 1986, I have observed a need for different disciplines in the care of neuromusculoskeletal (NMS) conditions. Too frequently, patients undergo initial interventions that delay appropriate care and prolong their conditions. The research is clear. Chiropractic care is safe, effective, and should be the initial gatekeeper for NMS complaints.

A New Quarterback Needs to Get Into the Game Earlier!

Initial referral for chiropractic care should become the standard of care for NMS complaints. Highly qualified chiropractic physicians have the ability to alleviate painful symptoms, restore health, and make referrals to ancillary providers. Patients will benefit from decreased financial burden, improved morbidities, and better patient satisfaction.

Ancillary providers will enjoy the benefit of appropriate referrals that are focused on their respective capabilities.


  1. Kazis LE, et al. BMJ Open 2019;9:e028633. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2018-028633
  2. Hurwitz et al. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2016 May;39(4):240-51. doi: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2016.02.007.

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