Those suffering opioid addiction are seeking natural care rather than additional medications and drugs, and telehealth opioid treatment is a future-forward option
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of problems in the health care field—one of which is being able to see patients in person. This is especially difficult when you’re treating patients who are taking opioids for pain. Tabor Smith, DC has been practicing for more than 13 years, and he and his wife, Gina Smith, DC run their successful chiropractic business in Houston, Texas, with telehealth opioid treatment options.
Smith is the creator and facilitator of Life University’s Certified Spinal Hygienist Program as well as the executive producer of the documentary A Better Way that specifically addresses the issues around the current opioid crisis that exists in America, the epidemic of over-medication we see today, and why chiropractic is the ideal solution to this problem.
He answered our questions about telehealth opioid treatment, and what follows is the interview, which has been edited for length and clarity.
With many people staying home, what can chiropractors do to help these patients with telehealth opioid treatment?
One of the great things about chiropractic care is not the pain-relieving component, but the fact that we address the cause of the patient’s problems instead of just masking their symptoms. So whether the patient can present in-person to your office or your consult and recommendations must be made over the phone/computer, there are many things we can recommend for how patients can make their lives better.
If our ultimate goal is to help them discover their problem’s true cause, then the relationship must start with a thorough consultation and evaluation for eventual telehealth opioid treatment. Once we have a good idea of the cause, we can then recommend natural care based on our findings.
For example, if you consult with a patient who is in a lot of pain, and you find they have a lot of inflammation present, you might be able to coach them on how to implement an anti-inflammatory diet and what kind of natural supplements could help them lower inflammation and cope with pain better. If you find the cause of their problem lies in abnormal structure, fixations, and inadequate fitness levels, it might be that a home exercise program will help them get back on track and reduce the cause of their issues.
What are best practices?
During a pandemic, a patient’s progress may be slowed because we are not able to adjust their subluxations as frequently as we need to, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make an impact on many aspects of their life and health as well as ultimately help them improve their situation.
Many times, the cause of their problems is multi-factorial and helping the patient address as many of those factors as possible will move them toward the goal of less pain, more function, and ultimately an improved quality of life.
These consultations, recommendations, and coaching sessions can be delivered over the phone or over the computer. Many chiropractors find it’s easier to explain and demonstrate their recommendations over a computer using video chat software such as Zoom.
Video chat software allows you to have conversations face-to-face and demonstrate exercises and how to use equipment you might recommend while still creating a profit by providing it to your patients.
What are the biggest challenges to treating opioid patients via telehealth?
Obviously, the biggest challenge for chiropractors treating any type of patient is going to be in detecting and correcting the vertebral subluxation complex over the phone/computer. We have been trained as chiropractors to find and adjust subluxation. It’s our main job, but we obviously can’t deliver an adjustment over the phone or computer.
In most states, chiropractors are allowed to stay open and adjust patients who desperately need their in-person care. That’s a great thing. But even in those states, you may be limited in the amount of visits a patient can have, and they themselves may not be willing to leave their house to visit your office.
For this reason, I recommend chiropractors start using at-home spinal hygiene programs for their patients and telehealth opioid treatment. Spinal hygiene exercises are home exercises that address areas of spinal health such as alignment, motion, and strength.
The spinal hygiene program we use in our practice consists of range of motion stretches, resistance band exercises, wobble disc exercises, and spinal molding rolls the patient lays on every night. These exercises help the patient improve their health and reduce their symptoms, and they are easily described and demonstrated over a video chat software.
(More info on the products can be found at www.SpinalHygieneProducts.com)