Ashland County crash survivor thankful for opioid-free treatment to manage chronic pain


CLEVELAND (WJW) – A quick trip to the store walking in a crosswalk turned nearly deadly for Danail Howell of Ashland County.

“I never made it home. I was hit by a distracted driver,” she said. “The initial impact was in my right leg. It threw me on top of the car. I broke his windshield with my head… I broke both my legs, shattered my left shoulder had five broken ribs, a broken nose, my cheekbone, my eyebrow bone, it’s just been crazy.”

Seven years and 11 surgeries later, Howell still lives with chronic pain. Initially prescribed opioids, she stopped taking the medications shortly after regaining the ability to walk, afraid of becoming addicted.

“I didn’t want to get hooked on them at all,” she said. “I don’t want to be a statistic and I knew the road I was going down, I probably would be if I kept taking what they had me on. I mean, I was on Percocet, Vicodin.”

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new data showing overdose deaths from opioids reached a record high, primarily driven from illegal opioid use.

Earlier this year, Howell tried a new approach to pain management and turned to UH Connor Whole Health to help manage her pain without using opioids.

“At Connor Whole Health, we try to provide patients with all the different non-pharmacologic conservative options,” said Dr. Robert Trager, Chiropractic Physician at UH Connor Whole Health. “Me as a chiropractor, that involves a lot of hands-on treatments, so soft tissue manipulation, dry needling, spinal manipulation, stretching.”

Dr. Trager said some results for Howell were immediate. She was able to bend over and touch her toes, something she had not done in years.

“He did the acupuncture, he did some manipulation on my back, my lower back and he said, ‘Now, let’s see,’ and I could touch the floor,” said Howell. “I wanted to cry then.”

“What we do may seem out of the ordinary, but it is actually becoming more mainstream and more popular as we develop some evidence and research behind what we do,” said Dr. Trager. “It’s also worth a try… If it’s not helping, we move on to the next thing and you really haven’t lost much. You have a lot to gain and little to lose with these sorts of therapies.”

Howell said after seeking an opioid-free pain management plan, her pain decreased by 75%. She encourages patients to advocate for themselves and the treatments that work best for their specific ailments.

Learn more about the services offered at UH Connor Whole Health here.

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