Dr. Bell's Blog

Opioids: Can Chiropractic Be Part Of The Solution?


First, let me be clear, I am not an opioid expert.  However, even a casual observer can see we have a major problem here in this country, and it's time to change our approach to pain. 

Let's Take A Look At Some Statistics from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) First:

  • In 2016 alone 42, 249 deaths (more than 115 per day) occurred from opioid drugs (66% of the total drug overdoses).
  • In 2016, 11.5 million people either abused or were dependent on opioid drugs.
  • One in four patients who receive long prescription opioid drugs for non-cancer related pain in a primary care setting struggles with addiction.
  • In 2016 alone, these problems have come at an economic cost of $504 billion.

Is There An Answer?

Of course, major problems rarely have easy answers.  The bottom line is the research now clearly shows that using opioid drugs for the treatment of non-cancer chronic pain just doesn't work.  The first step in solving this problem has to be in the search of alternative treatments for chronic musculoskeletal pain.  In a 2016 study from James Whedon, DC, MS,  named Association Between Utilization of Chiropractic Services and Use of Prescription Opioids Among Patients With Lower Back Pain, he found a 55% reduction in filling opioid prescriptions in those who received chiropractic care, compared to those who did not.  

The use of non-pharmacologic approaches for chronic pain BEFORE resorting to drugs is crucial to solving this problem, which has reached epidemic proportions.  This can include, but is not limited to, chiropractic, physical therapy, acupuncture, reflexology, hypnosis, or meditation. Beyond the obvious overdose and addiction problems, treating chronic pain with drugs also fails to address the cause of the problem. Simply numbing the pain not only doesn't fix the problem, but it can also lead to further damage since you aren't feeling the pain as much.  This is a slippery slope that many unfortunately get caught on.

So in closing, as a country, let's just start using some common sense when it comes to our health.  We need to have a cultural shift as to how we not only approach the treatment of chronic pain, but also our health in general.  Dr. BJ Palmer (the Developer of Chiropractic) once said "Medicine is the study of disease and what causes man to die.  Chiropractic is the study of health and what causes man to live." Start by creating a shift in your own life on how you approach your health so you too can... 

LIVE Well.  BE Well.

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