October is the month observing both chiropractic care and physical therapy. Chiropractors and physical therapists have different training, methods, and philosophies. However, they have one significant thing in common: both are first-line responders to pain. As such, they provide an alternative to opioids that can help to reduce the impact of opioid use and addiction in the United States.
National Chiropractic Health Month (NCHM) 2022 focuses on the non-prescription pain solutions chiropractors offer. They point out that patients who started their back pain treatment with chiropractors were 90% less likely to end up on opioids.
National Physical Therapy Month for 2022 encourages patients to choose PT, continuing the ongoing Opioid Awareness campaign which reaches out to healthcare providers and to patients. “No one wants to live in pain. But no one should put their health at risk in an effort to be pain-free,” says the American Physical Therapy Association. “Doctor-prescribed opioids are appropriate in some cases, but they just mask the pain—and opioid risks include<depression, overdose, and addiction, plus withdrawal symptoms when stopping use. That’s why the CDC recommends safer alternatives, like physical therapy to manage pain.”
The opioid problem
In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control pointed out that 20% of patients suffering from non-cancer pain received prescriptions for opioids as the first line of treatment. “Opioid pain medication use presents serious risks, including overdose and opioid use disorder,” they pointed out. “From 1999 to 2014, more than 165,000 persons died from overdose related to opioid pain medication in the United States.”
Following an extensive review of the literature and input from experts and stakeholders, the CDC concluded that “Nonpharmacologic therapy and nonopioid pharmacologic therapy are preferred for chronic pain.”
Physical therapy and chiropractic solutions
A recent study found that patients who began their treatment of back pain with either a chiropractor or a physical therapist were less likely to take opioids than those who started with a different kind of healthcare provider. This was true for both short-term and long-term use of opioids.
Both specialties rely on movement to treat the underlying causes of pain, rather than starting out with a medication-based response to pain. Both take a more holistic view and encourage long-term lifestyle changes that reduce pain without any chance of addiction or other negative side effects.
Physical therapists may use exercises alongside prescription medications. Your primary care provider can refer you to a chiropractor or physical therapist, or you can contact MANA’s chiropractic and physical therapy clinics directly.