The Food and Drug Administration has proposed changes to the way it educates healthcare providers on treating pain, including the use of chiropractic care.

Healthcare providers “should be knowledgeable about the range of available therapies, when they may be helpful, and when they should be used as part of a multidisciplinary approach to pain management,” the agency stated in its proposal released in May.

After intensifying lobbying efforts in Congress and state legislatures, industry leaders in chiropractic and acupuncture consider the FDA proposal a major victory in their campaign to include voices advocating alternative and holistic medicine in the discussion on combatting the rising epidemic of opioid abuse.

The changes in FDA guidelines recommend medical doctors obtain information about chiropractic care and acupuncture therapies to help patients avoid prescription opioids, according to Stat, a health and medicine news organization.

An increasing number of holistic-based organizations and groups have also joined efforts to fill the gaps in American healthcare by offering a wider range of treatment options and by examining the opioid epidemic from alternative perspectives.

One example is Advanced Medical Integration’s mission to help chiropractors expand their practices to incorporate a more comprehensive and well-rounded approach to healthcare that provides patients with fuller and healthier treatment options.

Lobbying for Change

Chiropractic lobbying groups have achieved some major victories in recent years on the state level. Oregon officials allowed state Medicaid coverage of chiropractic care for lower back pain. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott last month signed into law a bill allowing chiropractors to own integrated medical offices.

The American College of Physicians announced earlier this year that it would recommend non-surgical approaches such as chiropractic as the first option to treat lower back pain.

Deadline to receive public comments on the FDA changes is July 10. The proposal is part of a larger campaign launched by the FDA in 2011 to combat the growing crisis of prescription drug abuse.

FDA spokeswoman Sarah Peddicord said the agency wants to provide doctors with more information on alternatives to pain management.

The Opioid Epidemic

More than 33,000 people died from opioids in 2015, the highest year on record, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Use of prescription opioids and heroin are included in those numbers.

Federal officials cite the rising numbers of drug overdose deaths in pushing for changes in policy direction and public perception. Most drug overdose deaths (more than six in ten) involve opioids, according to CDC. The number of overdose deaths have increased fourfold since 1999. More than a half million people have died from drug overdoses from 2000 to 2015. Opioid overdoses kill 91 Americans every day.

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