Chiropractors and acupuncturists who have lobbied for a bigger role in treating pain have won a preliminary endorsement from federal health officials.

The Food and Drug Administration released proposed changes Wednesday to its blueprint on educating health care providers about treating pain. The guidelines now recommend that doctors get information about chiropractic care and acupuncture as therapies that might help patients avoid prescription opioids.

“[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 wrote in the proposal.


The suggested changes come as chiropractors and other alternative medicine providers have stepped up lobbying Congress and state legislatures to elevate their role in treating chronic pain. They’ve scored several big victories in recent years.

In Oregon, the state Medicaid program decided to cover chiropractic care for lower back pain starting in 2016. Other states are considering similar moves. And earlier this year, the chiropractic industry cheered when the American College of Physicians recommended non-surgical treatments such as acupuncture, yoga, and chiropractic care as the first options for treating lower back pain.

The FDA’s draft blueprint isn’t final — and drug makers, doctors, and alternative medicine providers will all have a chance to weigh in. The FDA will take public comments through July 10.

The blueprint released this week is part of a strategy the FDA rolled out in 2011 to address a crisis of prescription drug abuse. The FDA required opioid manufacturers to provide education for health providers who prescribe their pain medications — but didn’t mention chiropractic care or acupuncture in its initial blueprint for what that education ought to look like.

Now, the agency is seeking to give prescribers more information on a broader range of approaches to manage pain, including non-pharmacologic therapies, said Sarah Peddicord, a spokesperon for the FDA.


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  • I welcome FDA aware of there are more than 6,000 medical doctors actively practice acupuncture in the USA, while more than 12,000 MDs got acupuncture training. There are more than 6,000 chiropractors also adopted acupuncture in their practice.

    There are 34,682 active licensed acupuncturists in the USA in the early of 2015. Modern acupuncture education or training and the practice provide patients an excellent resource for non-pharmaceutic pain managements, and for other diseases or disorders’ treatments.

  • I think it’s great that the FDA is finally recognizing acupuncture for pain treatment instead of opiates. Recently I hurt my shoulder working out. Called my acupuncturist right away, who helped me in the past with fertility issues. My shoulder was so inflamed the needle was literally jumping. After a few sessions of acupuncture and cupping, my shoulder is completely better.

  • I have always suggested chiropractic and acupuncture care in the combined therapy of treating pain. This is most often multidisciplinary approach including a psychosocial impact of pain and pain perception. I’ve come to learn patients will respond to different types of therapies, and yes, some do not respond to chiropractic or acupuncture, just like some do not respond to narcotics.

  • My name is Mona Lee Yuan, I have a dual license in physical therapy and acupuncture. As an acupuncturist I have had immense success in treating people with unremitting chronic pain (both lowback and neck) using acupuncture. Acupuncture is NOT a sham, according to the AAMA (American Associates of Medical Acupuncture) which comprises of Western Medical doctors, Acupuncture has proven to be one of the most effective treatments for opioid addiction, and one of the most effective treatments for treatment of chronic pain. Need I say more? I fully support the FDA in adding acupuncture as an alternative treatment for chronic pain.

  • Acupuncture is an absolute sham. The only reason that federal agencies would support it it that it looks like they are offering a solution to the fact that they want to take away opioids from people with chronic severe pain.

  • I have effectively treated many patients for pain and addiction. It’s a natural way to help people without the side effects. Strongly support FDA.

  • I welcome FDA aware of people’s right (patient’s right). Currently many people choose natural therapies, such as acupuncture. People aware of that chemical (such as pharmaceutic medications) may cause potential problems and affect people’s health.

    More and more people use natural therapies, especially acupuncture. I welcome FDA respects people’s choice and adds Complementary and Alternative medicine therapies (CAM, or say integrative medicine in recent years; especially acupuncture) in the Blueprint.

    I understand some other people has right to use pharmaceutic medications, but these people should NOT block us using CAM, especially acupuncture. Doctors should have right to introducing acupuncture to their patients, if the pharmaceutic medicines, especially extended-release and long-acting opioids become a serious problem.

  • So glad Accupuncture is recognized. It worked for me. I had leg pain and could not walk. X Ray was fine. Orthopedic doc told me to take pain killer, wait 10 business days to get approval for MRI and I bought a pair of crutches from his office. Later a friend urged me to go Accupuncture. I went in with my crutches and one hour later I walked out without crutches. A few more sessions cured me and I canceled my MRI appointment. Accupuncture really works wonderfully.

  • I have tried acupuncture for stomach ache in China, and it was very effective. It is not false science but wisdom that is passed down through generations in a different culture. For the well-being of all human, it is necessary for western medicine to be open-minded and learn from all cultural heritages. I am sure even this FDA proposal is passed, there will be strict standards of regulation to ensure acupuncture is used in a safe and reliable way.

  • I’ve tried acupuncture for my symptoms with Graves Disease and have been VERY pleased about the results. It has helped me alleviate pain and treat my physical, mental, and emotionally conditions. After receiving treatment I am more relaxed and calm. I always feel safe with the acupuncture treatments as it has no side effects. I’m very lucky that my health insurance covers for my treatments. I will continue receiving acupuncture and recommend this effective treatment to all. It has done wonders with all my thyriod issues and it continues to help with other chronic diseases. Please research this ancient practice of acupressure and it’s therapeutical benefits.

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