In the course of seeking treatment for chronic back pain, many people end up being prescribed strong opioids like Vicodin or OxyContin. Not only does this fail to actually treat the problem, but there is also a high risk of addiction to opioid pain-killers. This has become a growing problem nationwide and particularly in Oregon where about 1 in 4 (more than 900,000) received an opioid prescription in 2012. Evidence of abuse and addiction is also clear with about a third of the hospitalizations related to drug abuse in Oregon are because of opioids.
Fortunately, it appears that “alternative” pain relief, including therapeutic massage, will soon become more accessible to chronic pain sufferers in Oregon. Beginning in 2016, Oregon will fund alternative pain relief treatments (such as acupuncture, chiropractic, massage therapy, and physical therapy) for patients with Oregon’s version of Medicaid — the Oregon Health Plan.
Pain relief medications aren’t always effective and “research is out there that suggests that with back conditions we’re spending a lot of money on health care treatments and services that aren’t improving outcomes,” says Denise Taray, coordinator of the Oregon Pain Management Commission. While these “alternative” pain relief treatments can be initially more expensive than prescription pain medications, the hope is that they will provide lasting pain relief and lower health care costs in the long run by limiting secondary costs of treating abuse and addiction.
(*Information about billing health insurance for therapeutic massage in North Carolina.)
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