There is more and more outreach to doctors and patients alike about the dangers of pain medications, both prescription and over the counter pain medications. Over the past several years there has been a shift in guidelines for treating spine pain. A variety of groups that offer guidance for treatment protocols to physicians have really started to promote a progressive, evidence-based, non-pharmacologic approach to care. These groups include the American College of Physicians, the Institute of Medicine and the American Geriatrics Society.

A recent study from the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2018, found that the drug classes most often prescribed for low-back  pain have a high correlation to those most associated with adverse drug events(ADE). These drugs include common NSAID’s such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, as well as prescription opioids. No casual relationship was established between chiropractic care and risk of ADE, however the findings did highlight a dramatic reduction in ADE’s in patients who had received chiropractic care within the previous 12 months. The adjusted likelihood of an adverse drug event occurring in an outpatient setting within 12 months was 51% lower among recipients of chiropractic services a compared to non-recipients.

The majority of patients prescribed pain medications have back pain, with 59% of adults prescribed opioids reporting low-back pain. Moreover, a recent systematic review and meta-analysis found that for treatment of acute low-back  pain, spinal manipulation, as preformed by chiropractors, provides a clinical benefit equivalent to the of NSAID’s with no evidence of serious harms. Conversely, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs offer effective analgesia for spinal pain, but carry increased risk of gastrointestinal reactions, and a 100% increase in risk of heart failure. Acetaminophen (Tylenol), one of the most common non-prescription pain meds and long considered to safe, has been associated with significant toxic effects including liver and kidney disease, gastrointestinal bleeding, and increased risk of heart attack, stroke and high blood pressure.

What this means for those of you out there experiencing back pain, which 80% of U.S. adults suffer from at some point in their lives, is that the pills you are taking pose serious potential health risks. On the other hand, seeing your chiropractor can lead to comparable rates of pain reduction without the risks of taking drugs. This is not to say that you can’t take an ibuprofen or acetaminophen when you are hurting, however, be aware that they are not without risks and they are merely masking pain that your body is wanting you to be aware of.

Chiropractic care strives to get to the root of your pain and restore normal function and movement. So when and if you find yourself wincing with pain, do yourself a favor and see your chiropractor. Having a doctor on your side that will find and assist you in correcting the cause of your pain, will not only help you get back to life as normal, you can also ditch the drugs and the risks that come with them.

Dr. Tavis Johansson, is the owner of 3 Rivers Chiropractic located in Missoula, MT. Come in for a visit and see what changes you can achieve with chiropractic care!