September is National Drug-Free Pain Management Awareness Month
As we enter month six since this pandemic began back in March, I have said often that we have been very lucky to have been deemed “Essential” and been allowed to remain open and provide treatment for our patients. I will admit that at the beginning, I did not know what to expect and how many patients would be willing to come into the office for care. But very early on- I realized the importance of being here both physically and mentally for our patients and friends… and with good reason. A recent article released from the AMA revealed that as the Covid19 pandemic continues- so does the nation’s opioid epidemic. Across the United States, the pandemic has resulted in more numbers of people suffering from anxiety, grief, isolation, financial worries, and an ongoing sense of uncertainty- all which can threaten people with a substance use disorder (SUD) as well as those at risk of developing one.
Since March, more than 40 states have reported increases in opioid-related mortalities. In addition, a recent analysis of 500,000 urine drug tests by a national laboratory service showed an increase of 32% for non prescribed fentanyl, 20% for methamphetamine, and 10% for cocaine from mid-March through May. And suspected drug overdoses climbed 18% in the same period.
That is why the assignment of this month is so appropriate and so important. September has been designated National Drug-Free Pain Management Awareness Month annually since 2001. It provides an opportunity to raise public awareness about the dangers of prescription and over the counter (OTC) pain medications. Sponsored by the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress (F4CP), this month of observances provide an opportunity to raise awareness about the dangers of prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications along with the benefits of drug-free options, such as chiropractic care, to safely and effectively relieve acute, subacute and as appropriate, chronic pain.
Today, 100 million people in the U.S. battle chronic pain, defined as pain that lasts three months or longer. Common causes include muscle injuries that don’t heal, fibromyalgia, musculoskeletal pain, and shingles. Back pain is one of the largest contributors to chronic pain and is also a very common reason for an opioid prescription. In 2016 alone, more than 60 million patients had at least 1 prescription for opioid analgesics filled or refilled.
But here is why opioids are so dangerous. First- opioids may mask pain in the short term, but they do not treat the underlying problem. Even worse however, opioids are highly addictive. Recent research has found that one day of opioid usage carried a 6% chance of being on opioids one year later. After eight days of use, that chance increased to 13.5%, and after 31 days of use, the chance spiked to nearly 30%. And when opioids are prescribed, the consequences to patients and communities are even greater. Opioid overdoses killed more than 47,600 Americans in 2017 and cost the U.S. economy at least $631 billion from 2015 to 2018, mostly due to heroin and fentanyl. A study of individuals with a heroin-use disorder found nearly 83% reported that their first opioid was a prescription drug.
So here is why Chiropractic care is so important to our communities: a recent study published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine concluded that for adults receiving treatment for low back pain, the likelihood of filling a prescription for an opioid was 55 percent lower for those receiving chiropractic care than for adults not receiving chiropractic care. In addition, a recent article in the Lancet, another international and highly respected peer-reviewed medical journal, included spinal manipulation among its recommended steps before prescribing opioids.
Chiropractic care gets to the root cause of the problem rather than just masking the symptoms like prescription opioids and over-the-counter pain medication do. As DCs – we take a natural, holistic approach to pain management by bringing the body back into alignment, recommending exercises and other activities to help patients regain their normal range of motion and flexibility while relieving not only the pain symptoms but often correcting the issue that is causing the pain.
So more so than ever, the care we provide in the office is “essential” to providing a natural alternative to the dangerous over-the-counter and prescription medications that are plaguing this nation. Therefore- we applaud you for your healthcare choices and we encourage you to continue with not only chiropractic care but all nonsurgical and prescription forms of care-including physical therapy, exercise, stretching, and weight control. As always-we will be here to support you and encourage you as well as to answer any questions or concerns you may have!