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Chiropractic Therapy for Pain Relief: An Alternative to Opioids

As the United States finds itself amid an opioid crisis, officially designated a "public health emergency," more Americans are seeking relief from their chronic pain with methods outside of traditional medicine. Incredible advancements in medical knowledge and technology have occurred in the past century. There is little debate that modern medicine has dramatically improved the overall health and lifespan of people throughout the world, but in some areas, such as chronic pain, traditional methods have sought to treat the problem rather than solve it.

With over 100 million Americans suffering from chronic pain, an entire industry has evolved to treat their conditions. Medical practitioners often have difficulty determining the cause of a patient’s pain and, if they can identify the cause, have limited options to address the issue. The conventional approach to relieving patient suffering is to medicate them which has led the pharmaceutical industry to develop multiple opioid-based pain medications.

Opioids, presented initially as a safe and effective treatment for pain, has been shown to be highly addictive and deadly. Despite of these facts, the pharmaceutical industry has responded by developing increasingly stronger and more addictive drugs. The attention given to the opioid epidemic in the U.S. has led many Americans to seek a non-drug approach to treating their pain.

Many times, chronic pain involves issues with a body's basic elements such as bones, joints, and tissue, whether from age or injury. As the body ages, muscles, spinal discs, facet joints and ligaments become less hydrated, weaker, and less able to withstand normal stresses. Trauma from an accident or fall can also cause unnatural stress leading to pain. Rather than treating the symptom, pain, chiropractic treatment focuses on the issue that is causing the pain. Opioids and pain medications may mask the pain, but the longer the injury is left untreated, the more adverse effect it will have on the patient.

Chiropractic treatment seeks to treat the issue directly by focusing on the spine and the central nervous system. The nervous system effects and controls the functions of every organ and tissue in the body. A misalignment or kink in the spine can cause a variety of symptoms including pain and even a lowered immune system.

Doctors of chiropractic enhance flexibility, muscle strength, and range of motion through hands-on techniques. Chiropractic solutions work on muscular, skeletal and nerve issues all over the entire body and can also outline a program of exercise designed to rehabilitate and strengthen specific muscle groups. The chiropractic adjustment directly addresses the mechanical components and often provides immediate relief of pain as well as restoring proper range of motion.

Doctors of chiropractic are uniquely positioned to treat individuals suffering from chronic pain without the use of prescription drugs and their possible side effects. Chiropractors are designated as physician-level providers in most states and have the same licenses and privileges to serve as a primary care doctor. The typical training for doctors of chiropractic includes four years of pre-medical undergraduate college education plus four to five years of study at an accredited chiropractic college. In addition to the hands-on nature of chiropractic, and their knowledge of complex adjusting techniques, Chiropractors are qualified to order tests and recommend other types of specialists if needed.

Traditional medicine has provided a pharmaceutical solution to the treatment of pain which not only does not address the cause of the pain, but creates many other issues that are equally, if not more, unacceptable. This concern is changing the public perception of opioids and prescription drugs and has led more Americans to search for medication-free treatment options to treat their pain symptoms.

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