Chiropractic Care Helps Reduce Opioid Addiction in U.S. Vets

Opioid addiction

By this point, America’s opioid epidemic is well documented. Prescribed to help patients manage pain, opioids are highly addictive. Chronic lower back pain is one of the most common reasons patients are prescribed opioids. Researchers studying pain management among U.S. veterans report that chiropractic care helps reduce opioid use in these patients.

The Dangers of Opioid Addiction

Your body sends pain messages via a network of opioid receptors in the brain, spinal cord, and nerve cells throughout the body. Opioids bind to these receptors, effectively blocking those pain messages. The drugs may also cause feelings of calm and even euphoria.

Opioid receptors in the brain Eventually, opioids change the way your brain works. The patient becomes addicted because their brain no longer produces the chemicals that make them feel happy. They only get those feelings from the narcotic.

Common opioid prescriptions include OxyContin, Vicodin, and Percocet. Eventually, of course, the patient’s doctor stops prescribing the medication. Unfortunately, by then, the addiction has taken hold. Some continue taking opioids in pill form, paying upwards of $60 to $80 per pill. Many, though, turn to much cheaper sources: heroin and fentanyl.

According to the CDC, opioid overdoses have claimed over 700,000 lives since 1999. In 2017 alone, there were over 47,000 opiod overdose deaths.

Preventing Opioid Addiction

Male doctor doing spinal manipulation on a male patient

Unfortunately, opioids are highly addictive. Often, that addiction happens much more quickly than the patient would suspect. And once addicted, the studies linked above show that the patient stays addicted. This is due to those chemical changes in the brain. The best way to prevent an addiction to pain pills is to not take them from the beginning. Researchers report that patients who seek chiropractic care are nearly 50 percent less likely to be prescribed opioids. That’s because chiropractic treatment helps relieve chronic pain, particularly in the lower back, neck, and joints.

Chiropractic Care and United States Veterans

One roadblock to proving the efficacy of chiropractic care has always been the lack of scientific evidence. This is not because studies have not proved its effectiveness; they have. Rather, it is because most studies of chiropractic care do not meet the criteria of a large sample size.

This appears to be changing thanks to researchers’ partnership with the U.S. government to help fight opiod addiction in veterans (studies linked below). In each study, researchers found that participants who received chiropractic care, including spinal manipulation therapy, had significantly improved outcomes compared to those who received the placebo treatment. This was true whether the veteran’s pain was acute or chronic, and whether they had served recently or were over age 65.

Seek Chiropractic Care

If you suffer from either acute or chronic pain, SW Spine & Rehab can help. Call us at 480-354-2008 or request an appointment today.

Further Reading

The following articles provide more information about how chiropractic care helps reduce pain to prevent opioid addiction.