(Note: video contains some strong language)
On this week’s episode of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver outlined the severity of the opioid epidemic and campaigned for alternative treatments for pain. The opioid epidemic, spurred by increasing opiate prescriptions in the last 20 years, claims more than 30,000 lives each year and ruins many more.
Opioids are powerful painkillers and were initially used for extreme medical cases like cancer. They are now prescribed for a wide variety of ailments. In addition to providing pain relief, they create euphoria in some people, which makes them highly addictive. Opioids also have some irritating side effects, including nausea and constipation.
Note: dependence is not the same as addiction. It is possible to need an opioid for pain management, to suffer withdrawal if abruptly taken off the medication, or to develop a tolerance to a dosage without being addicted. Addiction is generally characterized by increasing drug-seeking behaviors and drug use even in light of devastating consequences or losses (i.e. losing a job, separating from family, etc.).
Opiates & Back Pain
People suffering from acute or chronic back pain are often prescribed an opioid. Unfortunately, there is very little evidence that opioids are effective for back pain. A variety of studies show little improvement:
- How effective are opioids? (Journal of Family Practice)
- Opioids for low back pain (British Medical Journal)
- Opioids often ineffective for low back pain (JAMA Internal Medicine)
- Back pain patients: “Opioids offer limited relief” (ASA)
Chiropractic can help
Back pain is often caused by poor posture, extended sitting, or improper lifting or pulling. Spinal adjustments, exercise recommendations, and nutritional counseling can often provide relief and prevent similar pain. We also work with massage therapists, who can help some types of back pain.
By working with your body instead of masking the source of the pain, we can lessen the pain and possibly fix the root cause. No need for expensive prescriptions, nasty side effects, or the possibility of debilitating addiction.
Opioids are not your only option for pain relief. Chiropractic is a natural and safe alternative for back pain. Why not give it a try?