Research demonstrates that treatments chiropractors provide, such as spinal manipulation and therapeutic exercise programs, can effectively treat patients with chronic back, neck or shoulder pain, without medication and reduce their reliance on opioids.
- A 2019 U.S. study found that 64 per cent of patients who saw a chiropractor were less likely to use opioids than people who didn’t, as reported in the journal Pain Medicine. 8
- 83 per cent of patients surveyed now rely less on medication, including opioids, to help manage their low back pain, after receiving care from a musculoskeletal (spine, muscle and joint) expert, such as a chiropractor, at one of Ontario’s seven government-funded Primary Care Low Back Pain program sites. 9
Subsequently, many medical authorities and decision-makers recommend health care professionals consider pain management therapies without medication, including those chiropractors provide, before opioids:
- 2017 Canadian Guideline for Opioid Therapy and Chronic Non-Cancer Pain recommends therapies without medication, such as spinal or joint manipulation and therapeutic exercise, for treating back pain, as well as neck pain, knee osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia and severe headaches or migraines. 10
- The American College of Physicians Low Back Pain Systemic Review demonstrated that exercise is effective for reducing long-term (chronic) low back pain and spinal manipulation provided better short-term pain relief than other active interventions. 11
- Health Quality Ontario suggests that making better use of non-medical treatments to manage both short-term (acute) and long-term (chronic) pain will reduce the number of people who end up using opioids for the long-term. It will also reduce the amount of prescription opioids that people use in harmful ways. 12
Chiropractic care is effective for treating a patient’s chronic back, shoulder, arm or other spine, muscle or joint pain. When this care alleviates their pain, these patients are less likely to use or become dependent on opioids. With effective pain management in place, these patients can also successfully move forward with rehabilitation services, including mental health and addiction treatment.