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Chiropractic Care Recognized as Safer for Pain than Opioids

Updated: Oct 24, 2019

Did you know...

• 115 people die each day from opioid-related drug overdoses.

• An estimated one out of five patients with non-cancer pain or pain-r elated diagnoses are prescribed opioids in office-based settings.

• More than 40% of all U.S. opioid overdose deaths in 2016 involved a prescription opioid.

• The most common drugs involved in prescription opioid overdose deaths include: Methadone, Oxycodone (such as OxyContin®) and Hydrocodone (such as Vicodin®).

• Nearly 80% of heroin users reported misusing prescription opioids prior to heroin.

The opioid epidemic continues unabated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in a span of 17 years (1999-2016), more than 350,000 people died from an overdose involving opioids. Sales of prescription opioids in the U.S. nearly quadrupled from 1999 to 2014, yet there has been no overall change in the levels of pain Americans report. In 2016, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids (including both prescription and illegal opioids) was five times higher than in 1999.

In 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency and announced a 5-Point Strategy to fight the opioid crisis. Unfortunately, the numbers since then have not improved. Since Q3 2016 through Q3 2017, the number of opioid deaths has increased approximately 30 percent, according to a recent report from the CDC.

While the nation’s attention on the opioid epidemic has heightened, interest in options for non-pharmacological care for pain has also increased. More consideration is being given to chiropractic care as a safe, effective, drug-free solution – especially for people with low back, neck and headache pain. Doctors of chiropractic (DCs) are specifically trained to diagnose, evaluate and provide non-pharmaceutical care and rehabilitation to individuals suffering from acute, subacute and chronic back, low back and neck pain, headaches, neuro-musculoskeletal conditions and other related syndromes.

Chiropractic has an established body of evidence demonstrating its effectiveness in pain management. In fact, there is more evidence for the efficacy of chiropractic care

than there is for the drug-based care that most physicians are taught to favor. Multiple studies and clinical trials support that chiropractic care is better suited to manage and relieve pain than the use of pharmaceuticals. In March 2018, The Lancet, one of the oldest, peer-reviewed medical journals in the world, published a three-part series

on low back pain, which addresses the related ailment, the disability caused by low back pain and provides call-to-actions to meet the challenges associated with the prevention and management of low back pain. With up to 80 percent of the population bound to experience back pain at some point in their lives, the study shows the education and action items necessary to establish more effective, patient-centered care, which includes spinal manipulation.

Doctors of chiropractic perform 94 percentof all spinal manipulations in the U.S.

Another recent example are the clinical trial results published in March 2018 in the

Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) which found that the use of opioid v. non-opioid medication therapy for patients with moderate to severe chronic back, hip or knee osteoarthritis pain “did not result in significantly better pain-related function over 12 months.”

The opioid epidemic has led many Americans, insurance companies, government leaders and medical professionals to be more open to enhancing their education about safe opioid prescribing and effective pain management. There is growing recognition and appreciation of the benefits of chiropractic care as an effective first-line, non-pharmacological care option for acute, subacute and chronic pain. As the use of spinal manipulation for pain management increases, we can expect to see a correlating decrease in the amount of prescription opioids in the future.

Doctors of chiropractic (DCs) provide conservative care focused on diagnosis, care and co-management, or referral for neuro-musculoskeletal conditions, including low back pain. The primary clinical intervention procedure by DCs is spinal manipulation or spinal adjustment.



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