Healthcare Moves Toward Conservative Care Methods, Like Chiropractic CareWe’re in the middle of one of the biggest drug crises in history—the opioid epidemic. Pain meds are being prescribed at an alarming rate for patients suffering from acute and chronic pain, which has opened up the gates for overuse and abuse. In 1991, the number of opioid prescriptions was 76 million, but in 2011, that number quadrupled to 219 million. There were 17,000 deaths in 2011 because of opioid prescriptions alone—this number also increased four-fold over the past two decades.

Why is this happening? As human beings, we’re geared to root out immediate solutions to what we feel are immediate problems, but those fixes don’t usually fix anything. Medication is often no more than a Band-Aid—a quick fix. You feel better—often for a short-lived amount of time—and that’s great, but pain happens for a reason: to alert you to a problem. When you mute it, you essentially quiet the messenger trying to tell you about the real trouble, and that trouble remains unaddressed.

We certainly agree that medication can be a necessary treatment, but, by and large, prescription and over-the-counter medication not only mask the real problem, they can also introduce a whole new litany of new ones like side effects and dependency. Plus, the more a drug is used, the more resistant the body becomes, making the medication less effective and putting a prescribed patient at risk of misuse.

In response to this prescription opioid crisis, the American College of Physicians (ACP) has released new guidelines for the treatment of low back pain—a condition that affects up to 80 percent of Americans during at least one point in their lives. As per this guideline, doctors are directed to use noninvasive, nonpharmacological treatments first. Prescription opioids should be a last resort.

Healthcare Moves Toward Conservative Care Methods, Like Chiropractic Care

A more conservative, natural approach to lower back pain is the bedrock of the chiropractic profession. Chiropractic care is a hands-on, drug-free approach to healthcare, and spinal adjustments have been shown to effectively and safely reduce back pain. A trial conducted by the ACP concluded that spinal manipulation showed better long-term pain relief results than other options like exercise, yoga, acupuncture and massage. All of these can be great for relief, however, chiropractic is the way to go for actively combating the root of the problem. By correcting subluxations, the body is able to do what it naturally wants to—heal.

As an organization, we commend the American College of Physicians for updating their clinical guidelines to reflect a more conservative, solution-orientated approach to low back pain. These new guidelines by the ACP mark another important moment in chiropractic history, because chiropractic care is getting more recognition as a valuable and effective approach to treating pain and focusing on overall wellness. As mainstream treatment moves in a more conservative direction, more and more patients will be able to get the hands-on, drug-free care that will really change their lives for the better.

We are pleased to continue to support our patients and communities as they experience the benefits of chiropractic care.