CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) – UPDATE 3/23/18 @ 5:35 p.m.
A new bill heading to Gov. Jim Justice’s desk could mandate alternative pain treatment methods if signed. It makes doctors, like your family care physician, refer you for things like acupuncture, physical therapy, massage therapy or chiropractic services as a first step for pain treatment.

“Exhaust all your options. We were starting on the third or fourth rung and what we needed to do was back down and say wait,” explained Dr. Tony Erwin with Putnam Chiropractic Center.

Places like Putnam Chiropractic could soon see a bump in business if a new bill becomes law. It makes doctors refer pain sufferers to physical therapy, acupuncture, massage therapy and chiropractive services among others, all before popping a pill.

“The patients that were showing up at the family doctor’s office that were getting opioids, those are the people we need to target; those are the people we need to help,” Erwin said.

He said the idea is that things like back pain, sciatica, joint pain, neck pain and more will be treated first by a professional in one of these other alternatives. And it will be covered by insurance.

“Prescribing first was not the modality we should have been using for these patients,” he said.

Erwin is a chiropractor himself, so it stands to reason his business will see a boom. Not quite, he says.

“There’s the idea that maybe there was a conflict of interest when we were doing this. But the data washed all that out,” Erwin said.

He adds there may be a few extra bucks, but this is about helping people suffering and fighting addiction long term.

“Because I think everyone’s aware of the consequences now,” Erwin said.

The governor’s office said late Friday he has not yet signed the bill into law.

While the conversation on opioid drug alternative treatments is getting underway in Ohio, it could soon be a law in West Virginia.

On Wednesday, March 21, lawmakers and doctors in Ohio held a news conference discussing the need to be open to all potential solutions and treatments when it comes to pain management in their state without opiates.And that includes chiropractic care as one viable alternative.

In West Virginia, buried in SB 273, which discusses reducing the use of certain prescription drugs, a doctor “shall refer or prescribe to a patient” alternative treatments including physical therapy, acupuncture, massage therapy and chiropractic services among others. The bill’s language states a minimum of 20 visits to a chiropractor will be covered by insurance.

Also in the bill, a person suffering from pain can also seek chiropractic care before going to a doctor, and a doctor’s referral is not required by any insurance agency operating in West Virginia.

It’s unclear at this point if Gov. Jim Justice will be signing the legislation.

This content was originally published here.