Recent research indicates that people who suffer from neck or back pain are much less apt to use opioid drugs when at least one of their healthcare providers is a chiropractor. That’s big news in light of the recent crisis of over-prescription of opioid painkillers and the resulting national addiction epidemic. The bottom line: if you see a chiropractor regularly, your chance of ever using opioids to control pain is less than half what it would be if you did not receive chiropractic care.
What are Opioids and Why Should You Avoid Them?
If you’re not familiar with opioid drugs and their attendant dangers, it’s helpful to understand just what this class of medications is all about, why some healthcare professionals prescribe them, and what the most common side-effects are.
In all the media coverage about opioids, there’s rarely an explanation about what they are and what the most common side-effects are besides the possibility of addiction. If you have ever seen a doctor for pain relief, you’ve probably been offered a prescription for these narcotic drugs. They are manufactured by various companies and sold at most major pharmacies.
Originally, opioids were meant to be used only for cases of severe pain that didn’t respond well to other medications or treatments. In the 1990s, however, doctors began prescribing them for all sorts of reasons and eventually there were millions of people addicted to them. Unless they’re given under very strict supervision, and only for a short while, opioids can cause all sorts of trouble.
There are three kinds of opioids, one of which is naturally present in the human body in very small quantities. One example is endorphins that the brain sends to areas that are in severe pain. Others are either made in a lab or manufactured from plant by-products. Sometimes they’re prescribed to treat pain that results from surgical procedures or from certain types of cancer treatments. There are both long- and short-acting opioids as well. Delivery methods for these drugs are varied. They’re usually given in tablet form, intravenously, via a patch on the skin, and several other ways.
If you’ve ever taken Tylenol #3, then you’ve used opioids. The same goes for Vicodin, hydromorphone, and oxycodone, to name just a few of the most popular forms of the drug. There are a few kinds of opioids that include added chemicals that help the body fight against addiction. Even manufacturers and the doctors who currently prescribe opioids know that the potential for addiction is very high for most patients. The big downside of these drugs is the long list of side effects, in addition to addiction, that they can lead to. Here’s a short summary of common opioid side effects. Keep in mind that some users won’t experience any of them, while others can be plagued by many:
- Blood pressure abnormalities and irregularities, particularly low blood pressure
- Mental confusion at unpredictable times
- A wide variety of sexual dysfunctions
- Stomach problems, including severe nausea
- Extreme sleepiness even after getting an adequate amount of rest the night before
- Constipation of lesser or greater degrees
- The temporary inability to urinate, even with a full bladder
- Breathing problems of many kinds
- Skin irritation that usually takes the form of itchiness
If a doctor has ever prescribed opioids for you, you might have noticed that initial doses are very low but are ramped up as time passes. The point is to slowly reach what doctors call a “therapeutic dose” of the drug. Young people and the elderly tend to have the most problems with this type of medication, possibly because their physical systems are weaker than those of adults.
Another problem with opioids is not necessarily considered a side-effect but it still a major issue. That problem is one of drug interaction for people who take both opioids and other kinds of drugs. What’s the lesson for people who suffer chronic pain and want relief? Avoid taking substances that might cause addiction, particularly when there are non-drug alternatives like chiropractic treatment.
How Chiropractors Deliver Drug-free, Non-surgical Care
Instead of addictive drugs, like opioids, chiropractors rely on natural healing methods that are able to reduce pain and restore bodily function. What are those methods? They include dozens of specific methods tailored to each patient’s particular condition, but some of the most common are:
- Spinal adjustment
- Rehabilitative exercises
- Electrical muscle stimulation
- Therapeutic massage
- Adjustment of the cervical (upper) spine for neck and shoulder pain
The outcome of a typical series of visits to a chiropractor is better range of motion, improved physical function, and less pain. Because chiropractic physicians work in a more holistic way than traditional medical doctors, they’re able to manage pain without having to resort to any drugs or invasive techniques.
It’s important to remember that many patients with back, neck, or other kinds of chronic pain see both a chiropractor and an MD for treatment. Unfortunately, this opens those patients up to the possibility of receiving opioids from an MD who sees nothing wrong with using drugs to mask pain.
In fact, a significant percentage of people who do suffer from chronic pain are either allergic to pain-killers or refuse to consider surgery as a pain-control option, or both. The positive result, in such cases, is that these people will ultimately seek chiropractic care because of its reputation as an all-natural, drug-free, non-surgical option for reducing bodily pain.
The Question of Insurance
Drugs and surgery are expensive forms of treatment, even after a patient’s insurance coverage kicks in an pays its portion of the bill. One of the advantages of chiropractic treatment is that patient costs tend to be much lower than other alternatives. An added benefit is that many of the nation’s larger insurance carriers are now offering reimbursement for chiropractic visits.
They’re doing so because their own research has proven that not only does chiropractic pain treatment work, but it also delivers results without the risk of drug addiction, medication side-effects, or complications from surgery.
Some large insurance carriers are responding to the opioid epidemic by offering full coverage for chiropractic care. Now that chiropractic medicine has proven to be an effective alternative to surgical and drugs for treating back pain, the medical insurance industry is finally getting on board and doing their part to make the use of opioids as rare as possible.
For example, spinal adjustment done in a chiropractor’s office is now the preferred method of treatment for low back pain. Not only does chiropractic care work, it also does the job without having to resort to surgery or medications of any kind. For patients, that means no risk of drug addiction or dangerous reactions. For the insurance industry, it means lower reimbursement costs compared to traditional drug and surgical interventions for pain management.
What If You Have Pain?
If you suffer from mild, moderate, or severe pain, it’s good to know that there is help. Why should you see a chiropractor? Here are just a few of the main reasons that more than 35 million people seek treatment from chiropractors in the U.S. every year:
- Relief of mild to severe pain
- Treatment for ear infections, headaches, menstrual pain, gastrointestinal problems, and fertility conditions
- Relief from the sometimes painful effects of chemotherapy treatment
- It’s a very low-risk kind of medical treatment
- There is no medication used in chiropractic care
- Chiropractors typically treat causes rather than just symptoms
- Treatment plans are highly personalized
- Chiropractic physicians work with the entire nervous system, all the muscles and all the bones in the body
- Prevention of most kinds of joint problems and dysfunctions
- Chiropractic can work alongside other forms of medical treatment
Choose the Right Physician
If you want to avoid the potential risks of taking opioid drugs, or any kind of pain-killers, chiropractic care can help you control your pain and get results. Not only do chiropractors, like those at Delaware Integrative Healthcare, know how to address back, neck, shoulder, and other types of pain, but they do so without ever resorting to invasive techniques, like surgery, or medications of any kind.
The smart thing to do if you are currently experiencing chronic pain is to book an appointment with Delaware Integrative Healthcare. They are currently accepting new patients and there’s never a charge to call and ask a question about your situation. They have offices in Middletown, Milford, and Dover. Initial consultations are always done without charge to you.
Give one of the offices a call and book an appointment at your convenience. The phone numbers are: 302-376-5830 in Middletown, 302-503-7767 in Milford, and 302-744-8650 in Dover. Don’t procrastinate when it comes to pain. The problem usually gets worse without treatment or if you wait until you are in dire need of help. The earlier you see a chiropractor, the better. Call us today. We look forward to hearing from you.