Chiropractic Care: A Drug-Free Approach to Back Pain


Back pain is a condition that affects millions of Americans every year. Whether it is poor lifestyle habits, strenuous work activity, or injury that leads to chronic back pain, a common medical treatment is the use of opioid pain medication.

Too often, patients develop substance abuse problems as a result of opioid painkiller use. In some studies, as many as one of every four patients using prescription opioids for long-term pain management will develop an addiction. The opioid epidemic is a serious medical concern; every year, thousands of people die from opioid overdoses.

Chiropractic care is a drug-free alternative to traditional back pain treatments. Research conducted over the past decade has validated the effectiveness of chiropractic patient services and its approach to pain relief that forgoes the use of potentially dangerous prescription opioids. Because of the dangers of opioids in pain management settings, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued guidelines to medical professionals in 2016. In these opioid prescription guidelines, the CDC emphasized alternatives for pain management, particularly by seeking care from a licensed chiropractor as a safe alternative to drug-based treatments.

Several important publications and organizations, including the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), have stressed a conservative approach to treating patients struggling with chronic back pain. Both groups recommend safer treatment options, such as chiropractic adjustment, in treating chronic pain. If these alternatives do not achieve the patient outcomes desired, only then should more aggressive pain management methods be implemented, such as prescription opioid medications. The ACA went so far as to propose a solution to the public health crisis of opioid abuse, working with other healthcare providers in promoting safe alternatives to drug-based pain management strategies. By giving patients increased access to non-pharmacological therapies, including chiropractic care, and by raising public awareness of safe alternatives to pain management, the ACA and other medical organizations believe they can curtail the needless deaths of thousands of people every year.