Chinese Community Health Plan Uses Traditional Chinese Medicine To Relieve Back Pain

posted by Chris Regal, Director, Clinical Innovations

on November 19, 2019

The opioid epidemic continues to devastate American communities. Health insurance providers are tackling the crisis with improved prevention, early diagnosis, and treatment of opioid use disorders.

As part of prevention efforts under the AHIP STOP Initiative, insurance providers help patients avoid or minimize opioid use. Low back pain is the number one reason patients are prescribed opioids, and therefore addressing back pain is a priority for insurance providers.

Many of 21,000-plus members of Chinese Community Health Plan (CCHP) will experience low back pain at some point in their lives, whether an isolated ache, an injury, sciatica, or a variety of other reasons. The San Francisco-based insurance provider offers access to a variety of care options, such as Traditional Chinese Medicine. Interventions include acupuncture, cupping, moxibustion, and massage. CCHP members have used Tai Chi and Qi Gong therapy as part of a mind-body approach to relieving low back pain.

Traditional Chinese Medicine for Pain Management 

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the treatment depends on the cause of pain – and pain is a result of blockages or deficiencies that prevent the Qi and Blood from nourishing an area of the body and keeping it healthy.

  • Qi is a Fundamental Substance that translates to “life force,” which flows through different parts of the body. When the flow of Qi becomes obstructed, the body cannot function properly, resulting in illness or pain.
  • Xue, or Blood, is the liquid life force of the body and is a subset of Qi. When Blood supplies are appropriate, the body is healthy; when there is undersupply, parts of the body may experience challenges.

CCHP maintains a provider directory listing specialists who can treat back pain, including those who practice Traditional Chinese Medicine. The directory lists provider education, including degrees and certifications from institutions such as the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Five Branches University, where traditional, holistic methods like acupuncture are taught to students.

The widespread use of acupuncture is a testament to its potential as a treatment for those suffering with pain. And with the ongoing opioid crisis, patients are encouraged to consider non-opioid treatment options to help manage their pain – this increasingly includes mind-body therapies, stress management, exercise, and other non-pharmacological therapies.

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