Collier and Lee Counties Edition
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Opiate Alternatives

Local Practitioners' Recommendations

Doctor of Oriental Medicine Terri Evans, owner of TAE Healthy Aging, in Naples, was listening to a documentary series about Americans struggling under the opioid crisis. “After the four-part series finished, I felt frustrated. There was no mention of alternatives to dealing with chronic pain, which is largely what opioids are prescribed for. No mention of acupuncture, chiropractic, yoga or massage therapy, which are capable of helping individuals deal with and ease chronic pain,” says Evans.

In May 2017 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued guidelines for doctors recommending that they learn about acupuncture and chiropractic care as therapies for pain management that could help them avoid prescribing opioids for patients.“[Health care providers] should be knowledgeable about the range of available therapies, when they may be helpful and when they should be used as part of a multidisciplinary approach to pain management,” is a phrase included in the proposal.  

As medical professionals continue relying on medications such as OxyContin or Vicodin that only treat symptoms, many local health practitioners approach the alleviation of pain from an integrative perspective, suggesting that modalities used in tandem can provide the best relief.

Charles Caccamesi, Acupuncture Care of Naples

Caccamesi has 28 years of experience working with clients experiencing acute and chronic pain. “Acupuncturists treat to alleviate pain and suffering to reduce the use of opioids. The military is now using acupuncture in the field for the same reason,” advises the acupuncture physician, who combines Japanese and Chinese styles.

Alvina Quatrano, The Art of Holistic Massage

According to “How Massage Helps Heal Muscles and Relieve Pain,” an article in Time magazine, Tiffany Field, a leading researcher on the effects of massage and director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami Medical School, advises that massage has the same pain-relieving effect as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen (Aleve). “Pain is lessened by reducing inflammation,” says Quatrano, a licensed massage therapist  

Cindi Curci-Lee, Rolfed in Paradise, Fort Myers

Prior to becoming an advanced Rolfer, Curci-Lee had a rewarding career as a registered nurse who felt that the administration of pain meds, including opiates and sleeping pills, were appropriate. A serious car accident changed that. “I sought medical help and was offered pain medications. The side effects of drowsiness, nausea, respiratory depression and decreased blood pressure would have interfered with my performance as a nurse. I searched instead for a therapy that would treat the reason for my severe headaches and hip pain. After five Rolfing sessions, my symptoms resolved and my quality of life greatly improved. I returned to school and became a Rolfer to assist clients in balancing and aligning their structure, thereby increasing strength and stability. Rolfing can improve postural issues in addition to freeing up old restrictions and improving joint function,” says the movement practitioner.

Annie Ray, DC, Bonita Beach Chiropractic, Bonita Springs

According to Ray, clinical practice guidelines from the American College of Physicians regarding noninvasive treatment for acute, subacute and chronic low back pain direct clinicians and patients to initially select non-pharmacologic treatment with exercise, multidisciplinary rehabilitation, acupuncture, mindfulness-based stress reduction (moderate quality evidence), tai chi, yoga, motor control exercise, progressive relaxation, electromyography biofeedback, low-level laser therapy, operant therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy or spinal manipulation.”

Lacie Stoel, FloYo Yoga, Naples

Stoel suffered from the pain and discomfort of sacroiliitis caused by an old cheerleading injury. The doctor gave her a prescription for painkillers. “The medication made me sick to my stomach, and I refused to continue taking them. The doctor sent me for physical therapy, which was good, but it only focused on one area and left the rest of my body hurting. I found restorative yoga and stretching, which doing regularly, works for my body,” says the restorative yoga teacher.

Deborah Post, Wellbridges, Bonita Springs

“Cannabis has long been associated with its predominant psychoactive component, THC, but the second-most abundant molecule, CBD, is a compound of immense clinical potential because it interacts directly or indirectly with many different receptor systems in the brain,” advises Post, a licensed advanced registered nurse practitioner who prefers to recommend the potency of cannabis-derived CBD oil with higher levels of THC and varying levels of CBD, as opposed to hemp-derived CBD oil with less than 0.3 percent THC.  

The preliminary research on the use of either CBD or THC for pain modulation is inconclusive, partially due to difficulty getting federal approval to research marijuana. Until the FDA approves and regulates cannabis products as it does other conventional medicines, it remains up to the patient to determine what specific combination of cannabinoids effectively reduces their pain experience.

A Multidisciplinary Approach

Not everyone would choose Evans’ holistic multidisciplinary path of using only acupuncture, chiropractic and massage rather than surgery and opiates to manage the pain of a shattered and broken forearm, as well as all dislocated bones in the wrist and hand. It may be wise, however, to consider trying them to offset the need for higher doses of painkillers. “I only took a quarter of one opioid and immediately understood how that would never heal my arm or restore the complete loss of use of my hand. It was a journey through the healing process, which still continues. Looking back, I still wouldn’t choose differently,” says Evans.

Local Resources

Acupuncture Care of Naples, 501 Goodlette Rd., Ste. D100, Naples, 239-877-2531.

Art of Holistic Massage, 732-266-5276.

Bonita Beach Chiropractic, 11100 Bonita Beach Rd., SE, Ste. 1078, Bonita Springs, 239-992-6643,

FloYo, 6200 Trail Blvd., 1800 Tamiami Tr. E,, Naples, 239-598-1938,

Rolfed In Paradise, Inc., 5100 N Tamiami Trl., Ste. 126, Naples. 7680 Cambridge Manor Pl, Ste. 100, Ft. Myers, 239-777-4070,

TAE Health Aging Center, 11983 Tamiami Trl. N. Ste. 100A, Naples, 239-430-6800,

Wellbridges, 9200 Bonita Beach Rd., Ste. 213, Bonita Springs, 239-481-560,

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