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Spinal Pain Patients Under Chiropractic Care Less Likely to Use Opioids

A study published on September 27, 2019, in Oxford Academic's Pain Medicine showed that patients with spinal pain who utilized chiropractic were less likely to use opioids than those who did not receive chiropractic care.

The title of the study, "Association Between Chiropractic Use and Opioid Receipt Among Patients with Spinal Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis" had the stated objective, "To investigate the current evidence to determine if there is an association between chiropractic use and opioid receipt."

According to the National Institutes of Health's, National Institutes of Drug Abuse, "Every day, more than 130 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids." The problem has become so severe that numerous studies have been done to look at alternatives to opiod treatment for pain. In 2018, there were over 70,000 opioid drug overdose deaths in the U.S.

Chiropractic has long been the leading drugless approach for people suffering with pain. Recently a number of studies have specifically shown that chiropractic care reduces opioid usage in the general population. These studies have prompted health professionals and researchers both inside and outside of chiropractic to voice their support for the chiropractic non-drug approach.

Dr. Kelsey L. Corcoran, DC, VA Connecticut Health Care System and Yale Center for Medical Informatics, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, who was a lead author on one such prior study commented in a recent Medline article, "Preventing opioid addiction and overdose continues to be a significant public health priority; and as part of a strategy to lessen opioid use, clinical guidelines now recommend many non-pharmacological options to be considered as front-line treatment ahead of any medication."

The study in pain medicine looked at 684 previous research articles and narrowed them down to the ones they felt were the most solid from a scientific basis. From looking at these studies, the researchers were able to show that people under chiropractic care with spine related pain had a 64% lower chance of receiving an opioid prescription.

In their conclusion, the authors of this study recognized the impact the results could have on the opioid epidemic we are now facing. They stated, "This review demonstrated an inverse association between chiropractic use and opioid receipt among patients with spinal pain. Further research is warranted to assess this association and the implications it may have for case management strategies to decrease opioid use."

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