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Opioids and Chiropractic

Of all the things sweeping the nation nowadays, the opioid epidemic is one of the scariest. Millions of people have been affected by this including my very own brother. My oldest brother, Ryan, passed away in October of 2022 when he was just 29 years old. Ryan had a condition known as spinal stenosis, this is when the space your spinal cord resides in within your vertebra is too small and puts pressure on your spinal cord. This can be incredibly painful and cause a whole host of symptoms. Ryan was diagnosed with this condition as a high schooler and was prescribed opioid medications so he could simply make it through the school day. By the time Ryan made it to college, he was addicted and began to spiral out of control. He was kicked out of college and hit rock bottom. Ryan worked his way out and was sober for 7 years. He had a full-time job as a manager at a bank and had found ways to cope. Unfortunately, it didn't last, and eventually, he turned back to his old ways and ended up overdosing in his room and he was found too late.

Now, I did not become a chiropractor because of this, to be honest, I didn't even know chiropractic could do anything to help or change the opioid epidemic, but as I went through school, I learned more and more about how powerful chiropractic can be to help your body heal and tolerate stress. So now I do hope to help those struggling be it through education on the alternatives out there to these medications, providing avenues to reach care, and of course adjusting people. (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmpt.2021.01.003)

In another study with over 100,000 patients ages 18-84, patients who received chiropractic care reduced their opioid use by half. These patients were based right here in New England and were followed for 6 years during this study. Not only did chiropractic care reduce their likelihood of filling their opioid prescription by half, but those who sought chiropractic care within the first 30 days saw an even greater reduction in their opioid use. (https://doi.org/10.1093/pm/pnaa014)

Another study down in Arkansas looked into the effect of either chiropractic care or physical therapy and its effect on opioid use. It was found that although Physical therapy showed little to no effect on opioid prescription use chiropractic care did significantly decrease the use of opioid prescriptions. (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcm.2022.02.007)

One final study we will look at is interested in the effect chiropractic care has on veterans with low back pain. They found that although 128,000 people met the criteria for the study, only a mere 7.000 received chiropractic care. Of those 7,000 most had comorbidities including neck pain and radiation of the lumbar symptoms, meaning they often had shooting pain down their legs or other symptoms like that. However, despite these extra symptoms, those who received chiropractic care were significantly less likely to fill an opioid prescription and were able to manage their pain without the use of opioids. (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.spinee.2023.06.293)

These four articles are just a drop in the bucket when it comes to the amount of data analysis studies that have been completed on the use of opioids and chiropractic care. However, it is clear to see there is a clear reduction in the use of opioids when chiropractic care is available as an alternative treatment. I believe it is important for people to know there is another option out there that can help them.


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