Deaths involving opioids have quadrupled since 1999; in 2014 alone, more than 14,000 people died from overdoses involving the drugs. That same year, another 2 million people abused or were dependent on opioids. Beyond the risks of addiction and overdose, prescription drugs that numb pain may convince a patient that a musculoskeletal condition is less severe than it is or that it has healed. This misunderstanding can lead to overexertion and a delay in the healing process…or even permanent injury.
There is a growing body of research that validates the effectiveness of chiropractic services, leading many respected health care organizations to recommend chiropractic and its drug-free approach to pain relief. The Journal of the American Medical Association, in a 2013 patient page on low-back pain, suggested patients consider chiropractic treatment before resorting to surgery.
It’s time to change the way we approach pain. The services of doctors of chiropractic, along with other non-drug forms of pain management, can be an important part of the solution to the opioid epidemic gripping the United States. While medication may be necessary for some patients, there are cases—particularly those involving chronic pain—where a more conservative approach may alleviate pain and even lessen or eliminate the need for prescription painkillers.