With many Americans suffering from prescription opioid abuse and dependence, leaders in the chiropractic profession are advocating for evidence-based, drug-free chiropractic care as a primary approach to pain relief, mitigating the need for opioids.
“As the prescription drug epidemic continues to spread across the nation, national leaders and industry professionals alike are taking a stand to modify public perception of pain and traditional pain relief modalities, and raise awareness about the health benefits of alternative options, such as chiropractic care,” states Sherry McAllister, DC, executive vice president of the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress, a national non-profit aimed at educating the public about chiropractic care. “The first call -to-action for change is increased education about the risks of prescription opioid abuse and safer, non-pharmaceutical options, including chiropractic care, which is documented to yield improved clinical outcomes and high patient satisfaction scores.”
According to the Institute of Medicine, back pain is considered a major public health challenge. During the course of a one-year study, researchers observed 26,014 back pain patients and found 61 percent received a course of opioid therapy and 19 percent were long-term opioid users. Doctors of chiropractic (DCs), who have a minimum of seven years of higher education, including patient management, are specifically trained to diagnose, evaluate and provide drug-free care and rehabilitation to individuals suffering from acute and chronic musculoskeletal pain, including back pain, as well as general health concerns.
“While opioids are commonly prescribed for acute and subacute low back pain, there is inconclusive evidence associated with the effectiveness of opioids for pain management,” says Dr. McAllister, who notes that past research concludes patients have a greater reduction in pain with chiropractic than with standard medical treatment. “It is critical that health care providers thoroughly investigate the reason for the patients’ pain upon the initial consultation and execute a safe and appropriate care plan to ensure long-term relief.”