14th Annual Joseph W. Howe Oration in Diagnostic Imaging

Live Webinar July 30th

Drs. Alex and Sara Vidan Discuss Opportunities, Opioids at Symposium

Alex Vidan, DC and Sara Vidan, DC gave a presentation at the 2019 Logan University Spring Symposium that challenged DCs to reframe obstacles and opportunities.

The Vidans graduated from Logan in 2004. The couple shared some of the challenges they’ve faced, including the realization early on that trying to appeal to everyone wasn’t the best business tactic. “We had to change our perspective on some things and faced a lot of obstacles along the way,” Dr. Sara Vidan said. “We realized we were going wide versus deep when we started our practice. We wanted to help anyone with a spine. The problem is that it’s really hard to market that and have people understand what you do. We realized we had to find our niche.”

The discovery of their niche occurred when Dr. Alex Vidan started experiencing temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJD), which causes pain or dysfunction of the jaw and the joints connecting the mandible to the skull. “In our search to find answers, we found a market so huge that we had no idea existed. It’s a $4 billion market,” Dr. Sara Vidan said. Between 5 and 12 percent of Americans suffer from TMJD, which tends to be more prevalent in young people and women.

“People are looking for answers but not finding them anywhere,” Dr. Sara Vidan said, adding that research from oral care providers says that a diagnosis of TMJD or related orofacial pain conditions should be based on a cervical spine examination, in addition to patient history. In addition to providing an accurate diagnosis, chiropractic can provide effective treatment through jaw adjustments. The problem, however, is that many oral care providers have a poor understanding of chiropractic care and how it can help their patients. The result is that many TMJD sufferers end up undergoing unnecessary oral surgery.

The Vidans are working on changing that, educating oral care providers on chiropractic’s role in treating TMJD. Key to their success, they said, has been taking the time to understand the unique philosophy of oral care providers. “You have to know who you’re speaking to, otherwise you’ll lose out on those opportunities,” Dr. Alex Vidan said. “You have to meet them where they are and show them what we do.”

The Vidans challenged Symposium attendees to uncover their own unique niche and start to see obstacles as opportunities. One huge obstacle that is also a huge opportunity for chiropractic is the opioid epidemic. The risks of taking opioids are astronomical: “A study by the Coalition for Safe and Effective Pain Management found that up to 26{8b9901aebceb0a3eec0a79b3f3654469c0b087e871156feadcbd77a99af0e60d} of patients prescribed opioids become addicted on the first prescription and up to 80{8b9901aebceb0a3eec0a79b3f3654469c0b087e871156feadcbd77a99af0e60d} of heroin users became addicted because of opioids,” Dr. Vidan said. “The demand for opioids is based on a misconception that pain can be helped with a pill. As chiropractors, we know that’s not true. You heal the body, not just cover up symptoms with a pill.”

The opioid epidemic has resulted in growing support for chiropractic from the insurance and medical fields. Actuaries hired by UnitedHealthcare recommended chiropractic and other conservative treatment be given as a first line of defense against chronic pain, from a purely financial standpoint. “They want to find a way for doctors to automatically refer their patients to chiropractors,” Dr. Vidan said. “They see us as the answer and want to waive copays and deductibles—even doing that, chiropractic can save insurance companies huge amounts of money,” Dr. Alex Vidan said.

The medical field is also more widely endorsing chiropractic. The Institute of Medicine, the FDA and the CDC all now recommend non-pharmacological approaches to chronic pain treatment. Harvard and Yale have also recommended chiropractic for chronic pain treatment.