The opioid crisis in the United States is very serious and very real. Approximately 91 Americans die every day from an overdose of prescription opioids or heroin. The sad thing about this is that it doesn’t have to happen.
The Center for Disease Control & Prevention updated its guidelines for prescribing opioids stating that non-opioid therapy is now considered the treatment of choice for chronic pain. Chief among those non-opioid pain management choices was chiropractic treatment.
Initially intended for pain management after surgery or traumatic injury, prescription opioids, like oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), morphine and methadone have increasingly become the pain medication of choice for many physicians. Prescriptions for opioids nearly tripled from 1999 to 2013 without a change in the reported cases of chronic pain.
The main reason opioids are so dangerous is this: opioids are addictive. When people are prescribed opioids for pain, their bodies become acclimated to the drug requiring more and higher dosages to manage the pain over time. That has led to one out of four Americans prescribed opioids for chronic pain to have formed an addiction to the medication.
Along with the CDC’s guidelines change in 2016, the US Food & Drug Administration released an Education Blueprint for Healthcare Providers in 2017 that stated:
“A number of nonpharmacologic therapies are available that can play an important role in managing pain, particularly musculoskeletal pain and chronic pain. HCPs [health care providers] should be knowledgeable about the range of available therapies, when they may be helpful, and when they should be used as part of a multidisciplinary approach to pain management.”
Of note in that blueprint, the FDA urged physicians to research non-drug options for chronic pain management including cognitive behavioral therapy, physical therapy, chiropractic care and acupuncture.
And the evidence is piling up. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health, concluded that patients with neck pain who sought out treatment from a chiropractor and/or exercised regularly were more than twice as likely to be pain-free in 12 weeks compared to those who were prescribed medication.
Whenever we can avoid ingesting pharmaceuticals, we are doing something fantastic for our bodies. In the matter of choosing an all-natural avenue of opioids, we may very well just be saving our own lives.
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