Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons of California Highlight Studies: Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment Offers a Safe Alternative to Opioids

Fearing An Opioid Epidemic, Osteopathic Physicians Promote the Short- and Long-Term Benefits of Pain-Reduction Techniques Instead of Addictive Painkillers

SACRAMENTO, Calif.--()--With addiction to opioids climbing in the United States, the Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons of California are pointing to several new studies that reveal various manipulative treatments may significantly reduce pain and even relieve the symptoms of colds and pneumonia augmenting the use of drugs and focusing on a more holistic approach.

“is that what you’re treating is not just the symptom but the source. The concept is that your body has the ability to heal itself far more than I can do as a physician.”

“Prescriptions for opioids and other opiates increased by 400 percent over an 11- year period,” said Dr. Stacey Pierce-Talsma, chair and associate professor of the Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine Department at Touro University California. “Medical issues including opioid use disorder and overdose deaths increased as well.”

As an osteopathic physician for the past 10 years, Pierce-Talsma has seen opioid addiction begin to reach epidemic proportions. “One in four people who have a prescription for opioids will struggle with addiction in the long term,” she added.

Osteopathic physicians (DOs) must undergo the same rigorous training and licensing requirements as traditional medical doctors (MDs). They frequently work in the same physician groups and consult one another, Pierce-Talsma said. “In fact, we’re heading toward a single accreditation system for medical residencies,” which she expects to be fully implemented in three years. The difference is that DO students have an additional 200+ hours of training in the hands-on diagnosis and treatment called osteopathic manipulative treatment or OMT — and a philosophy that has a holistic focus, including a mind/body/spirit approach to health.

Monterey-based family physician Gerard Issvoran, DO, has incorporated his osteopathic training as a vital part of his practice along with a strong philosophy in preventive medicine “with a core belief that the human body has the capacity to heal and sustain itself given the proper opportunities through diet, nutrition and exercise.”

Issvoran said that when traditional physicians treat patients with painkillers, “They’re spending too much time trying to treat the effect, not the cause of a person’s pain.” The mindset of osteopathic manipulative treatment, or OMT, “is that what you’re treating is not just the symptom but the source. The concept is that your body has the ability to heal itself far more than I can do as a physician.”

The Journal of the American Medical Association recently said that spinal manipulative therapy was associated with significant benefits in both pain and function in a person's lower back.

For those suffering with chronic pain, the therapy can be an alternative to addictive opioids, the JAMA article said. The techniques soften tight muscles, realign joints, release restricted facial tissues and alter nervous system tone. The treatment may soften, stretch or neurologically “reset” the muscles causing the pain.

Pierce-Talsma of Touro University said that various osteopathic treatments are also successfully deployed “for other medical issues, such as headaches, ear infections, constipation, colds and pneumonia. OMT works to address the musculoskeletal system that may be affecting the blood, lymphatic and nerve supply to the area. It’s a more holistic approach that really looks at the whole person.”

Osteopathic physicians, she said, “look at the health of the patient, not just the disease. We try to partner with the patient to identify the cause of the discomfort. It’s all about treating the source of the pain, not just the structure that’s causing it.”

EDITORS: To arrange an interview with Dr. Stacey Pierce-Talsma or Dr. Gerard Issvoran please contact Jane Einhorn at (916) 792-0025 or by email: janeeinhorn@gmail.com. Additional information is available at http://opsc.org/, the website of the Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons of California.


Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons of California
Jane Einhorn, 916-792-0025

Release Summary

Osteopathic medical techniques offer promising alternatives to use of opioids for pain reduction.

Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons of California