Every medical professional shares a similar goal: ensuring that patients receive the best healthcare possible. Sometimes, here at the clinic we are aware that the scope of the issue at hand is out of our remit, and it’s best for the patient to visit a Western physician.
Now the Food and Drug Administration is encouraging MDs to reciprocate.
A new set of guidelines published by the FDA proposes that doctors learn about the benefits of acupuncture as a pain management tool:
“[Health care 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 writes in the proposal.
This decision is partly due to alternative health care professionals lobbying to be considered a viable option for treating chronic pain. However, these guidelines are not set in stone with drug manufacturers, doctors, and acupuncture and chiropractic practitioners all set to throw in their thoughts.
Another significant contributing factor for the FDA’s decision is the country’s growing opioid problem. Between 1999 and 2014, the CDC reports that more than 160,000 people in the US died of opioid overdoses. In 2013 alone 250 million opioid prescriptions were written – that’s one for every adult. If the FDA’s guidelines become a permanent fixture in the medical community, these numbers could drop dramatically.
The simple fact is: acupuncture is proven to be an effective way of lessening chronic pain. This benefits both the patient, who does not require heavy-duty pharmaceutical medications to find respite, and the medical facility, that is able to reduce costs by introducing acupuncture.
Many Western doctors are already on the road to learning how acupuncture works and how it can benefit their patients. Several even ceased prescribing unnecessary opioids, opting for acupuncture and Chinese herbs, and witnessed positive results. One MD from the University of Minnesota, Chronic Pain and Fatigue director Daniel Clauw, admits to having not prescribed an opioid in over ten years. Many hospitals are also bringing in acupuncturists to treat emergency room patients instead of prescribing pharmaceuticals.
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