Are you suffering from back pain? You’re not alone. Up to 80 per cent of the population will experience back pain at least once in their lifetime.
But what if you’re living with chronic back pain? Where can you turn for help? For too many of us, prescription painkillers, like opioids, are our first remedy to manage persistent pain, but there’s a whole world of medication-free options that may be able to help.
The 2017 Canadian Guideline for Opioids for Chronic Non-Cancer Pain and the American College of Physicians suggest trying various medication-free treatments or therapies that chiropractors can provide, such as spinal manipulation and therapeutic exercise programs.
Key Questions to Ask Your Doctor or Health Care Professional
If you have non-cancer, long-term (‘chronic’) back pain, consider asking your doctor or the health care professional overseeing your care the following questions about managing it and any medication you are taking:
1. Would a trial of evidence-based, conservative, therapy, including chiropractic care and physical therapy, help manage my pain?
Adding manual therapy like spinal manipulation to standard medical care has been clinically shown to be a viable, non-invasive and evidence-based approach to managing your spine, muscles, tendons, joints or nervous system-related’ pain and dysfunction.
2. Is the medication I am taking an opioid? If so, is there an alternative medication or treatment that I could try first? Are there any non-opioid pain relievers I could take instead?
Some prescription, non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as celecoxib (Celebrex) and diclofenac (Voltaren), may cause some side effects, when compared to over-the-counter NSAIDs, but they will not lead to dependence or addiction.
3. Is this newly prescribed or recommended medication safe to take with my other medications?
Be sure to review the full list of prescribed and over-the-counter medications you are taking with your doctor.
4. Is this the lowest dose possible?
It is important not to take a higher dose than you need for pain relief. Start with a small dose and ask your doctor to increase it if necessary.
Five Drug-free Options to Treat Your Pain
There are non-addictive alternatives to prescription medications and opioids, such as chiropractic care, that you can use to manage your back pain. They can also be more effective in reducing your pain and getting you back to your regular life.
Here are some back treatment options a chiropractor may provide:
1. It’s time for an adjustment
Spinal Manipulation: Chiropractors deliver precise manual manipulation of the vertebrae of your spine, called an ‘adjustment.’ to restore its natural movement and improve its function. To perform an adjustment, your chiropractor will use their hands to apply controlled force to your spine and guide it through a range of motion. This action restores your spine’s natural movement and improves its function.
2. All hands on deck
Multidisciplinary Rehab: Pain can affect us in many ways and the starting point isn’t always clear. Work with multiple health care professionals to address the physical, psychological and social or occupational factors contributing to your back pain.
3. Movement is Key – Exercise!
Chiropractors can prescribe therapeutic exercise programs to help improve your body’s movement and reduce your pain. Once the initial pain subsides, these exercises may help you avoid future flare-ups.
4. Change your focus
Mindfulness Based-Stress Reduction: Reduce your stress by changing how your brain processes pain. Meditation, breathing exercises and body awareness techniques can help you change the way you experience pain.
5. Pinpoint the issue
Acupuncture is a technique where fine needles are inserted into specific areas of your body to address pain and function. Many chiropractors are trained to offer acupuncture along with other treatment options.
If you’re looking for pain relief without putting yourself at risk of becoming dependent on opioids, a chiropractor can help.
To find a chiropractor near you, use the chiropractor locator on our website. In Ontario, you can visit a chiropractor without a referral from a doctor, nurse practitioner or other health care professional. If you already have a chiropractor and/or another health care professional, join our Partnership4BetterHealth online patient advisory community. Then, you can share your ideas on how to enhance chiropractic services and make a positive impact on our health care system. It’s confidential, free, and always your choice to participate.