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Acupunture Before Opioids

By David Mortell

David MortellPain management is big business in the US. Sales of prescription opioids have quadrupled since 1999. And 80% of the world's opioid supply is consumed in the US. Two million Americans have a substance abuse disorder related to prescription pain relievers.

The annual economic costs of chronic pain in the US is nearly $700 billion. This cost includes the additional healthcare costs and lost productivity that result from opioid dependence and addiction. Every day 1,000 people are treated in US ER's for misuse of prescription opioids. Overdose deaths involving prescribed opioids were 5 times higher in 2016 than in 1999. From 1999-2016 there were more than 200,000 deaths in the US.

Even the use of NSAIDS and Acetaminophen (Tylenol) carries serious risk, as there are 80,000 ER visits annually related to the use of those drugs. NSAIDs may raise the risk of heart failure by 20% and that risk increases when you increase the amount. They also have a negative effect on kidney function and increase the risk of GI bleeding. Acetaminophen, the most widely used pain relief medication in the US, is linked to liver disease, blood cancers, and potentially fatal skin reactions. It seems these widely used drugs are not as safe as once believed.        

Acupunture is a key component of the solution for both chronic pain and America's painkiller epidemic. In the 2016 version of the CDC's Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain, acupuncture is cited as one of the significant, non-pharmaceutical therapies for ameliorating chronic pain. Acupuncture is cheaper to use and lowers costs to insurance companies. Studies show that acupuncture improves treatment outcomes, is safe and non-addictive, and patients feel more satisfied with their treatment results and their overall experience.

David Mortell is a Licensed Acupuncturist and Medical Herbalist with 29 years of clinical experience.  Learn more at www.mortellacupuncture.com or call 412-888-9390.

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