The move reflects the kind of investments in alternative pain treatments being made by health systems around the U.S. as they grapple with a heroin and opioid pain pill epidemic.
As many as 10 people a day are dying from drug overdoses in Pennsylvania alone.
To address the need for alternative treatments in Lebanon, WellSpan opened WellSpan Physiatry on Dec. 1 at 956 Isabel Drive in North Cornwall Township, the health system said Thursday.
The new practice will create six jobs in the area, WellSpan spokeswoman Cindy Stauffer said.
An interventional physiatrist, Dr. Henry Richardson, will lead the practice, which will provide services such as epidural steroid injections, spinal cord stimulator trials, physical therapy and other non-surgical treatment options that aim to lessen the need for opioid pain pills.
WellSpan has physiatry practices in York and Gettysburg as well, but this is its first office in Lebanon, Stauffer said.
A study released this month by two physicians at Danville-based Geisinger Health System found opioids are not effective for treating chronic pain, or pain that lasts more than three months.
Opioids also are dangerous in treating long-term pain. Usage can lead to addiction, depression, sleep-disorders, infections and even death, the Geisinger doctors found.
The physicians, Dr. Mellar P. Davis and Dr. Zankhana Mehta, found that opioids, nonetheless, have been helpful in reducing acute pain, or short-term pain from an injury.
They also noted a lack of pain management centers that offer therapies not relying on opioids.
“Opioids are not the answer,” Davis said. “Chronic pain rehabilitation, exercise, cognitive behavioral therapies, acupuncture, yoga or tai chi are all better options than opioids.”