Pain Management and Opioids: The Problem and Alternative

There is no denying that the United States is in the midst of a crisis.  What started out as an initiative to bring relief to millions of chronic pain sufferers across the U.S. in the mid-to-late nineties has now become a threat to the health and livelihood of Americans of every age, race, gender, and socioeconomic status.  In the beginning, drugs like OxyContin were hailed as pain-relieving miracles with little risk of addiction due to their time-release formulas and were heavily marketed to patients and physicians alike.  Now, of course, the truth regarding the dangers of these drugs has come into full light and is hitting far too close to home for many.

The Numbers Behind the Opioid Epidemic

If you have been fortunate enough to not personally experience addiction or the addiction of a loved one to prescription pain killers, you may not realize the full extent of the problem.  Clearly, these drugs are highly addictive, and over the years, they have been widely abused by both those with prescriptions and recreational users who obtain them illegally.  Not only is such an addiction equally as threatening to health, happiness, and overall wellbeing as any other illicit substance, opioids also frequently lead abusers deeper into drug use with many eventually turning to heroin. 

As of 2015, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services reported the following statistics:

·        12.5 million people misused opioids

·        2.1 million people misused prescription opioids for the first time

·        135,000 people used heroin for the first time

·        33,091 people died from overdosing on opioids

The Alternative to Opioid Pain Management

Opioids are particularly problematic for patients.  Not only are they dangerous and habit-forming, they also don’t work very well.  Unfortunately, most chronic pain sufferers will not find the long-term relief they are hoping for, but they will run the risk of addiction or accidental overdose.  In a recent study, researchers determined that for back pain sufferers, prescription pain killers worked no better over a 12-month period that simple ibuprofen, a finding that has been echoed across multiple studies over the past few years.

Now that the problem is clear and openly acknowledged, medical professionals and their patients are seeking out safer treatment options that really do offer relief, such as chiropractic care.  For back pain in particular, the spinal manipulation performed by a chiropractor can make a significant difference.  It’s one of the non-drug treatments recommended by the Annals of Internal Medicine for chronic back pain, and studies have shown that patients who receive it are up to 55 percent less likely to fill an opioid prescription.

Of course, not all chronic pain is in the back, but that doesn’t mean that a chiropractor can’t help.  Most patients are shocked to learn exactly how many ailments and pains are exacerbated by misalignment of the spine.  After all, it is the very structure that holds everything together and sends signals, including those for pain, between the brain and the rest of the body.  From pain in the back, neck, legs, and shoulders to the all-encompassing pain associated with fibromyalgia, chiropractic care has proven to not only help patients feel better now, but to also give long-term pain relief as well.

If you are suffering from pain and want a safer, natural alternative to prescription pain medicines, chiropractic care is the logical choice.  Learn more about the services offered by chiropractors and how your condition may benefit by scheduling an appointment with SouthEast Chiropractic: The Motion Centers in either our Gastonia or Belmont office.