--- By Erica Sastre, LMT
Chiropractic has been proven to help manage both acute and chronic pain.
Pain management, in general, is a big issue in healthcare. Let’s look at some facts:
Low back pain is the single leading cause of disability. According to the US bone and Joint initiative study, back pain was cause for over 264 million days off of work. That is all without considering any other type of chronic pain condition. Pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined.
When looking for solutions to chronic pain, the first thing we tend to reach for is over-the-counter aids such as Aspirin, Advil, or Ibuprofen. Then if these conditions worsen and we go to the doctor we are typically directed to stronger prescription medications, which, can be concerning to many patient situations.
Many people are looking for ways to treat their chronic pain without resorting to drugs of the traditional medication protocol. With alternative care we can lessen our dependency on over the counter drugs and even opioids.
Back pain is also one of the most common conditions that opioids are prescribed for with over half of opioid users reporting back pain among their symptoms. Why is this connection between back pain and opioids so concerning?
While prescription opioids are certainly helpful to many patients in complex severe conditions, however, we need to also be looking at the big picture of the opioid crisis: In 2016, illicit and prescription opioids were responsible for more than 42,000 fatal overdoses across the country. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, those numbers have quintupled since 1999, which means the problem is just getting worse.
The good news is that, alternative medicines are already making great improvements to these dire statistics.
Let's take a look at some strategies the VA has been using in order reduce opioid addiction among veterans. After launching one initiative, they were able to reduce overall opioid prescriptions by 41% over the past five years. The project was focused on non-drug treatment for chronic pain, such as acupuncture, spinal manipulation therapy, chiropractic care, and yoga.
It is also good news to know that patients who received services from a chiropractor were less likely to fill a prescription for opioid medication, and, there was a 51 percent lower likelihood of an adverse drug incident compared to non recipients of chiropractic care.
A visit to the chiropractor may also be more cost effective for sufferers of chronic pain. In one study, "those who initiated treatment for low back pain with chiropractic rather than a regular MD had 40% in reduced healthcare cost!" In general “Healthcare plans that incorporate chiropractic typically realize a 2:1 return for every dollar spent.”
There are numerous research studies, reports, and surveys proving how effective chiropractic can be for pain:
"In a Randomized controlled trial, 183 patients with neck pain were randomly allocated to manual therapy (spinal mobilization), physiotherapy (mainly exercise) or general practitioner care (counseling, education and drugs) in a 52-week study. The clinical outcomes measures showed that manual therapy resulted in faster recovery than physiotherapy and general practitioner care. Moreover, total costs of the manual therapy-treated patients were about one-third of the costs of physiotherapy or general practitioner care."
Korthals-de Bos et al (2003), British Medical Journal
“Patients with chronic low-back pain treated by chiropractors showed greater improvement and satisfaction at one month than patients treated by family physicians. Satisfaction scores were higher for chiropractic patients. A higher proportion of chiropractic patients (56 percent vs. 13 percent) reported that their low-back pain was better or much better, whereas nearly one-third of medical patients reported their low-back pain was worse or much worse.”
Nyiendo et al (2000), Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutic
The evidence and anecdotes are solid. If you are suffering form chronic or acute pain, chiropractic care may well worth a try!
Send us your questions! Yours might be answered next week. NorwalkSportsandSpine@gmail.com
Sources and Further Reading:
NIH Fact Sheet -- Pain Management
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention -- Drug Overdose Deaths
VHA Pain Management -- Opioid Saftey Initiative
Boss Magazine -- Corrective Care for the Opioid Epidemic
American Chiropractic Association -- What Research Shows About Chiropractic
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