Patients Who Receive Chiropractic Services Use Less Opioids

“We think this is a significant finding, especially as we work to find new ways to address our state’s opioid addiction crisis. The potential for complementary treatments such as chiropractic to help relieve pain is increasingly important in battling the crisis.”

~ Dr. Louis Kazal, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center

While media coverage too-often perpetuates the stereotype of opioid addiction as nothing more than a junkie constantly looking for their next high, the unfortunate reality is much worse MILLIONS of Americans originally became opioid-dependent after being prescribed painkillers for legitimate medical conditions. The most common ailment was long-term, or “chronic” pain of some sort.

This set up a scenario that has become all-too-familiar.

Previously, anyone seeing their doctor for chronic pain was nearly always prescribed an opioid medication as the first-line treatment. Patients – and most doctors – were purposefully mislead by Big Pharma companies  into believing that this was the most effective and safest option.

But the truth of the matter is, opioid painkillers like Vicodin, OxyContin and others are dangerously-addictive have an extremely high abuse potential.  Research has determined that they are inferior to over-the-counter remedies like Tylenol in terms of to relieving chronic pain.

Now, a new study conducted by the Southern California University of Health Sciences and New Hampshire’s Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center has come to a significant conclusion.  When chiropractic services are part of a pain management strategy, it changes patients’ behaviors and reduces the need for potentially-dangerous opioid drugs.

Chiropractic Treatment Reduces Need and Lowers Cost

According to SCUHS, there are at least 39 separate opioids frequently prescribed for lower back pain, ranging from comparatively-weak tramadol to potentially-lethal fentanyl.

Here’s the biggest takeaway – among those patients who visited a chiropractor for their lower back pain, the likelihood of filling an opioid prescription was 55% lower than patients who did not receive such chiropractic treatment

Also significant, the total cost of care was reduced, the final outcome of the treatment was better, and overall patient satisfaction was rated as “very high”.

Why is this the case?

Opioids only “mask” pain by blocking signals within the brain. Unlike other options, they do nothing to help the SOURCE of the pain. On the other hand,  chiropractic services and other non-opioid solutions directly treat the source of the pain–addressing the problem, not just the symptom. For example:

For example:

  • Aspirin and NSAIDs reduce inflammation.
  • Weight loss reduces stress on muscles and joints.
  • Exercise adds strength and increases range of motion.
  • Chiropractic treatment includes spinal manipulation that corrects any misalignment that may be causing pain.

In 2007, the American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society issued a joint statement recommending spinal manipulation when other pain management options prove ineffective.

What’s the Bottom Line?

This timely research is significant because it provides another way for people suffering chronic pain to safely obtain relief without having to resort to dangerous painkillers. And for people who are in recovery from any kind of Substance Use Disorder, it also offers way to manage pain without jeopardizing their sobriety.

Chapman House Treatment Centers supports any evidence-based solutions that can help turn the tide of the ongoing opioid epidemic. Since 1978, Chapman House has been one of the most-reputable drug and alcohol rehab programs in Orange County, Southern California, offering:

If your chronic pain has resulted in an opioid addiction, contact Chapman House TODAY to get the help and support you need.

by Albert Fontenot