Comparing Chiropractic Care and Medication for Pain Relief

Not all medicine is the same. If you’re dealing with any sort of neck, back or musculoskeletal pain, you may be discovering just how varied treatment approaches can be as you explore your options for healing and relief. One of the places where many people seeking pain relief land is the gray area between medication and chiropractic care. Which one will help you to get back on your feet? First, it’s important to understand just how vastly different these approaches truly are. While both have the potential to help you enjoy fast pain relief, only one is focused on long-term, sustained recovery.

Medication for Pain: Your Look Behind This Treatment Option

When pain strikes, we don’t always have the mindset to investigate long-term treatment options. We simply want to be able to live and work without excruciating, debilitating pain. This is precisely why “drug therapy” is often the first treatment plan that many people enter into after encountering pain. While this may make sense in the moment, it can actually set us down a path that leads to the opposite of recovery. First, it’s important to know about some of the side effects and ramifications that are associated with both prescription and non-prescription pain-relief medications. Here’s a glimpse into what you need to know:

  • The acetaminophen that is used in popular pain-relief medications (Tylenol) is linked with long-term health issues that impair function in the pancreas and liver.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) used in popular pain-relief and anti-inflammatory medications (Advil) is linked to stomach issues and headaches.
  • Prescription drugs can be extremely addictive. In addition to dependence, there is also the risk of overdose. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) more than 10 million people are abusing or misusing opioid medications in the United States each year.
  • Many people experience unpleasant side effects from even the smallest doses of medications. This can include nausea, drowsiness and upset stomach.
  • Pain relievers can negatively interact with other important, life-saving medications that you’re taking.
  • Medication won’t necessarily remove the need for surgical intervention down the road.

If you value being alert, taking medications for pain relief can be a very problematic road to go down. For many people, being drowsy is simply not compatible with their need be alert and awake at work. Being medicated can actually be very dangerous for people who are tasked with driving, operating heavy machinery, providing medical care to others or supervising children. What’s more, walking around in life feeling drowsy and confused can detract significantly from a person’s quality of life.

The biggest downside to relying on medication to treat pain is that the pain will come back as soon as medication is stopped. That’s because pain-relief medications do nothing to actually address the underlying causes of pain. You’re really only masking persistent pain. In many cases, it becomes necessary to take higher and higher doses of medication just to get the same results as time goes on. Pain can actually increase when pain medication is used as the primary treatment because you’re essentially burdening and reinjuring the injured area over and over without ever addressing the underlying cause of pain. This can create a vicious cycle of relying on more and more medication as pain worsens.

Chiropractic Care for Pain: Your Look Behind This Treatment Option

When people say that they’re treating pain with chiropractic care, they’re making a decision to treat pain naturally. However, this isn’t a passive type of holistic treatment. Using highly technical adjustments and exercises, chiropractic care corrects the underlying misalignment or injury that is causing pain. One of the biggest benefits of seeking chiropractic care for pain is that your chiropractor is invested in identifying the root of the problem. This means doing a thorough evaluation to identify exactly where pain is radiating from in your body. In many cases, a blockage in the spine can cause pain in the head, neck and back. Tissue, joint and muscle injuries can also cause radiating pain that impairs functions and mobility. When the root cause is treated, many patients find that many of their peripheral symptoms evaporate.

Unlike medication, chiropractic care is not covering up pain. The relief that people feel following adjustments is the feeling of their bodies getting back into balance and alignment. The results are also permanent. While maintenance is sometimes required to maintain results, most people will generally be able to “walk away” for the long run after finishing a chiropractic treatment plan.

People find relief for everything from headaches to leg pain using chiropractic care. However, this treatment path is especially promising for people suffering from back pain. Unfortunately, opioid use for back pain is strongly linked with prolonged, long-term opioid usage. Based on studies, spinal manipulative therapy for back pain is linked with statistically significant improvements in both pain and function. What’s more, researchers find no adverse effects associated with spinal adjustments.

Another benefit of choosing manual adjustments is that you will also learn exactly how and why you’ve been injured. If the root of your pain is mysterious, your chiropractor may be able to point out some posture problems or movement habits that are putting unnecessary pressure on certain parts of your body. If your pain is the result of an accident, you can learn special exercises for accommodating for the injury that has occurred. Here’s a look at some of the benefits of choosing chiropractic care over something like medication:

  • Chiropractic care is gentle enough for people of all ages. It is deemed safe for children, infants and the elderly.
  • You can choose how long you’d like your treatment to last for after beginning a treatment plan.
  • You’re treating the problem at the musculoskeletal level.
  • You can learn exercises and movements that relive pain, speed up healing and improve range of motion on your own at home.
  • Chiropractic treatments may help you avoid the need for surgery.

Choosing chiropractic care as a first line of defense against pain may actually help you to avoid the use of pain medication to manage an injury. According to researchers at the Yale School of Medicine, people with chronic back and neck pain were less likely to use opioid painkillers if they received chiropractic care. This is due to the fact that chiropractic therapies are effective enough at decreasing pain, improving range of motion and increasing function to remove the need for other pain-management options.

Choosing an Unmedicated Road to Recovery

Choosing chiropractic care over pain medication may not just be better for your overall health because you’re avoiding negative side effects. Research suggests that the pain relief achieved through chiropractic intervention is actually greater than the pain relief achieved through medication. In fact, doctors around the world are increasingly looking to chiropractic intervention for pain to cut down on opioid use. If you’d like to treat pain naturally and wholly without the use of medication, chiropractic intervention is a treatment model that should be on your mind. The first step is consulting with a chiropractor to learn about the treatments available for your specific type of pain.