Fighting the opioid epidemic through an integrative approach

RAPID CITY, S.D. — For decades healthcare professionals have been working to address increasing opioid abuse and addiction. Prescription medications play a large role in pain management, but providers are now starting to look for alternate treatments to alleviate chronic pain. The Department of Health and Human Services outlines several restorative therapies that alleviate pain without the use of prescription or over the counter medication, including physical therapy, chiropractic care and massage therapy.

Upwards of 25% of patients misuse prescribed opioids for chronic pain, which can lead to opioid addiction and even transition to depending on harder drugs like heroin. The increase in opioid abuse has resulted in over 100 people dying every day from an opioid overdose. Recent years have seen a decrease in opioid-involved deaths thanks to the increased awareness of this epidemic. Doctors across the nation are shifting the way they treat pain.

Many patients with chronic pain will see a variety of doctors, chiropractors and physical therapists to seek relief. Providers at Alternative Health Care Center of the Black Hills make it a priority to be part of the solution in fighting the opioid epidemic by looking for natural solutions.

“Only 6% of chiropractic clinics in the United States are multidisciplinary clinics,” says Dr. Eric Kuyper, chiropractor at Alternative Health Care Center. “What we are offering is unique in the fact that we have chiropractic care along with physical therapy, dry needling, acupuncture and massage therapy.”

Dr. Kuyper says that working with a Doctor of Physical Therapy allows him to immediately refer a patient who would benefit from an integrated treatment plan. Dr. Trever Wagner, PT, DPT, says that the coordination between physicians at the clinic helps streamline the process for patients. Dr. Wagner and Dr. Kuyper can form an effective treatment plan and measure the results as time goes on by using x-ray imaging.

“We do a two-visit initial,” Dr. Kuyper says. “On the first visit we focus on the patient’s complaint and perform an in-depth physical exam. In the second visit we present a treatment plan and discuss costs and insurance coverage. Insurances vary but will usually cover treatment as long as it’s a medical necessity, something Dr. Wagner and I can determine.”

“I’ve already seen patients benefit from the co-treatment of chiropractic care, physical therapy and massage therapy,” says Dr. Wagner. “We’ve decreased the amount of opioid intake and over the counter medications, and we’re seeing improvements in their follow-up exams.”

While the results are long-lasting, guiding a patient through an effective treatment plan can take time. “Typically within a 6-8 week timeframe we see significant changes,” Dr. Wagner says. “Each case is different and sometimes we need to reassess, but the goal remains the same – alleviate pain and reduce medication dependence.”

Finding a variety of treatments can make all the difference for those looking for sustainable, long-term relief. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 605.341.4850 or visit the Alternative Health Care Center of the Black Hills website.

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