Collaboration offers drug-free pain relief

February 16, 2017

With opioid addiction and overdose deaths reaching crisis levels in Connecticut and nationwide, the University of Bridgeport is teaming with a local health clinic to offer drug-free pain relief to patients.

On Wednesday, UB’s Division of Health Sciences announced it would join with Optimus Health Care of Bridgeport to give chiropractic care and acupuncture to patients in the clinic’s Stamford and Bridgeport offices who are struggling with chronic pain.

Typically, “a patient who presents to a primary care physician with a chronic condition will get a prescription, and it’s usually for oxycontin,” said Dr. James Lehman, program director for the post-graduate resident training program at UB College of Chiropractic.

Oxycontin is a narcotic painkiller that contains the drug oxycodone, which can be addictive. According to preliminary numbers from Connecticut Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, there were expected to be 104 drug overdose deaths linked to oxycodone in 2016. The office projected a total of 888 overdose deaths in 2016.

Drug-free pain relief options are out there, but they often aren’t available to lower income people, said. Dr. David Brady, vice president of Health Sciences at UB. Those people are largely dependent on federally qualified health centers, which usually charge on a sliding scale, for their care.

“If (alternatives aren’t) offered through those channels, they don’t have access to them,” he said.

Under the five-year agreement, doctors from UB’s College of Chiropractic teaching faculty, post-doctoral chiropractic residents, and supervised UB chiropractic students will serve patients who suffer from chronic pain caused by neuro-musculoskeletal conditions.

The partnership is modeled on a pilot program UB launched in 2012 with Community Health Center, Inc., in Middletown.

The UB-Optimus program will start March 13 and will be run by Optimus Chief Medical Officer Dr. Karin Michels-Ashwood. Funding for the program is available through the Affordable Care Act.