In 2017 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared the opiod crisis a public health emergency. This has led to an increase in research of pain management alternatives and how to incorporate non-drug solutions into American mainstream healthcare. The American Chiropractic Association is pursuing the investigation of non-pharmacologic interventions for pain treatment across a variety of patient populations and healthcare methods, as well as promoting evidence-based non-pharmacological therapies, and improvement of access to providers of such therapies.
Chiropractic and acupuncture are two specialties that are gaining notice. Supported by randomized controlled trials and observational studies, American College of Physicians recommends acupuncture and spinal manipulation in conjunction with heat therapy and massage as the first line of defense before resorting to opiods or NSAIDs. These therapies can lower the need for a patient to ever need pharmacological methods. In one study the rate of opioid use was 16% lower for recipients of chiropractic services as compared to non-recipients.
Chiropractic and acupuncture have shown themselves to be remarkably effective at treating the root causes of pain. Not only can spinal manipulation provide relief on its own, but in addition Chiropractors often include patient education about biomechanics, posture, and exercises during their sessions, helping patients feel empowered to make the necessary changes to stay pain-free.
In recent years, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Medicaid have begun promoting acupuncture as a treatment for pain relief, training 2,800 providers in Battlefield Acupuncture. This allows service members to go back to work with minimal impact on continuing mission operations as they don’t have to wait hours for medications to take effect or endure side effects such as drowsiness from common pain medications. To date, Battlefield Acupuncture has an 80% efficacy rate, is completely non-addictive, and the effects last for several days with no need to increase dosage. In the general population, a review of 29 studies involving 18,000 patients found that acupuncture relieved pain by about 50%, significantly lowering the likelihood of patients need opiods or other pain medications.
If you or someone you know is living with pain, or trying to find an alternative to opiods or NSAIDS, chiropractic and/or acupuncture could be the solution!