Chiropractic Care Reduces Opioid Prescriptions for Spinal Pain
- Dr. Shawn Thistle
There are well-known risks associated with the use of prescription opioids, with nearly 48,000 deaths being attributable to opioid overdose in 2017 in the USA alone. Accordingly, there is a pressing need to prevent the unnecessary use of opioids by identifying safe and cost-effective alternative pain treatments.
Nonpharmacological pain treatments, including chiropractic, are receiving increasing attention, especially given that 59% of US adults who were prescribed opioids reported having back pain. Furthermore, the Institute of Medicine recommends nonpharmacological therapies as effective alternatives to pharmacotherapy for patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain and the American College of Physicians’ clinical guidelines recommend nonpharmacological treatment as the first-line treatment for back pain.
Some early evidence shows that the use of nonpharmacological treatments (including chiropractic) for musculoskeletal pain has an influence on opioid use. For instance, a recent study reported that among patients treated for spinal pain, expenditures for opioid therapy decreased as expenditures for manual care (chiropractic and physical therapy) increased, as did costs for spinal surgery and spine care overall. Another study involving 1,702 neck pain patients reported that those who received chiropractic (DC) care were less likely to be prescribed opioids within one year of their first visit. Several other studies have reported similar findings (references included in the Review).
The objective of this study was to determine the impact of chiropractic utilization on the use of prescription opioids among patients with spinal pain. This was a follow-up to a previous study the authors performed in New Hampshire. This time, they utilized a larger study population from three New England states, a longer time frame, and more advanced methods…the results are very promising and demonstrate (once again) the impact chiropractic care can have!
THIS WEEK'S RESEARCH REVIEW: “Impact of Chiropractic Care on Opioid Prescription in Patients with Spinal Pain”
This paper was published in Pain Medicine (2020) and this Review is posted in Recent Reviews, Pain - Chronic, Low Back Pain, Neck Pain and the 2021 Archive.