From the New York Times:
Workplace insurers spend an estimated $1.4 billion annually on narcotic painkillers, or opioids. But they are also finding that the medications, if used too early in treatment, too frequently or for too long, can drive up associated disability payouts and medical expenses by delaying an employee’s return to work.
Workers who received high doses of opioid painkillers to treat injuries like back strain stayed out of work three times longer than those with similar injuries who took lower doses, a 2008 study of claims by the California Workers Compensation Institute found. When medical care and disability payments are combined, the cost of a workplace injury is nine times higher when a strong narcotic like OxyContin is used than when a narcotic is not used, according to a 2010 analysis by Accident Fund Holdings, an insurer that operates in 18 states. [snip]
In a sense, insurers are experiencing the consequences of their own policies. During the last decade, they readily reimbursed doctors for prescribing painkillers while eliminating payments for treatments that did not rely on drugs, like therapy.
Those policies may “have created a monster,” said Dr. Bernyce M. Peplowski, the medical director of the State Compensation Insurance Fund of California, a quasi-public agency.
For patients, such policies had consequences.
Dr. Eugenio Martinez, a physician in the Boston area who specializes in rehabilitative medicine, said one patient, a former waitress who hurt her back five years ago in a fall, recently won a court fight to force her insurer to pay for physical therapy. The insurer had cut off those payments five years ago after a few sessions, and the woman, now disabled, had no option but to take strong painkillers, Dr. Martinez said. “It certainly did not help that she was cut off,” he said. (read the whole thing)
Chiropractors have long known that painkillers mask the real cause of the pain, and do not help to cure any conditions. In fact, patients who take painkillers are more likely to cause reinjury to themselves, since they "feel" completely healed even though their bodies are not yet recovered.
Studies continue to prove that chiropractic is cost-effective and gets results, precisely because chiropractors look to find and fix the cause of the problem, instead of simply masking it with addiction-generating opioids. If you are looking for an alternative to the painkiller culture, e-mail Dr. Johnson with your questions.
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Unless otherwise attributed, all content is written by Kyle Johnson, DC, of Johnson Family Chiropractic of Peoria.
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