The ongoing news deluge alerts all to the opioid crisis. Opioids, including oxycodone (OxyContin and Percocet) and hydrocodone (Vicodin), stand as the most prescribed class of medications in the U.S., with more than 289 million opioid prescriptions during 2016 alone. To better comprehend the scale, note: the U.S. Census Bureau estimates 323 million populated America in mid-2016. Thus, the prescriptions number about 89.5% of the country’s population.

“…more than 289 million opioid prescriptions during 2016 alone.”

Responding to a need for pain relief, doctors routinely prescribe an opioid medication.Popping a pill emerges as the norm, reducing patient sensitivity to potential addiction issues. Realizing an addiction problem is there occurs only after the fact.

The question materialising in the wake of such disheartening statics? What alternatives exist to both satisfy pain management goals and preclude the specter of addiction? One answer lies in acupuncture, the Chinese practice of inserting needles into precise areas of the body.

Last year, Forbes magazine laser-focused on “The Role of Acupuncture in the Midst of the Opioid Crisis“, noting the procedure’s efficacy in pain management which, in turn, reduces the number of potential opioid addicts.

Any doubts about the inherent value of acupuncture further dissipated in recent months, courtesy of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA,  “responsible for protecting the public health,” oversees every medicinal remedy targeting the U.S. population. The FDA’S May 2017 release of proposed changes, targeting pain management health care providers, signals its embrace of acupuncture. The FDA Blueprint’s guidelines expressly recommend self-education, among doctors, about acupuncture as pain management “nonpharmacologic therapy.” While the guidelines lack finality, the favourable acknowledgement of acupuncture kickstarts a new age of official acceptance. 

Indeed, the following month’s published results of a first-in-class comprehensive Australian study, involving emergency room acupuncture treatment, underscores the reality of acupuncture “as good as medication” in managing pain.

The results of a third study, published in the October 2017 issue of JAMA Surgery (Journal of American Medical Association), points to surgery as a gateway to opioid use. Focusing on knee surgery patients, this study also confirms acupuncture as a viable alternative to pharmacological remedies. 

Practitioners throughout the world continue to study acupuncture’s pain management prowess. The resulting crescendo heralds determination to resolve the opioid epidemic ravaging the world. The most apparent solution remains the same: implement alternatives, precluding the initial opioid prescription for a pain-wracked patient. Acupuncture enjoys growing authoritative support as a premier therapeutic option.

Acupuncture for migraine headaches.

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