Abuse of prescribed medications for problems such as lower back pain has been on the rise in our country and worldwide.  Many doctors and physicians are concerned at the ever rising numbers of use and over-prescription of opioids such as Vicodin and Oxycodone.

According to this article from Harvard, properly prescribed drugs cause about 1.9 million hospitalizations per year and about 128,000 deaths annually.  This makes prescription drugs the 4th leading cause of death behind stroke!  Because of this, more and more doctors are seeking alternative treatments for lower back pain such as chiropractic.

A little bit about lower back pain

Lower back pain is the 2nd most common cause of disability in theUnited States.  Over 3.5 million people are affected by moderate to severe degenerative disc disease and over 6 million people in the US are affected by chronic back pain.  Because of this, American spend over $50 billion for treatments and cures for their aches and pains.  There is no one singular cause for back pain, hence why there is not one loan way to treat it.




Moving away from the drug approach

According to the new guidelines set forth by the American College of Physicians, drugs might not be the best option to treat both acute and chronic lower back pain.  They are finding that drugs, especially opioids should be the last approach for chronic back pain and patients should try non-medicated alternatives first.  Some of the treatments recommended by the new guidelines include chiropractic, massage and acupuncture.

What do chiropractors look for with lower back and other spine pain?

Chiropractors take a look at the neuromusculoskeletal system.  That is the nerves (neuro), muscular complex (muscles, ligaments, tendons, fascia), and the skeletal system (bones, discs, joints).  Chiropractors look for proper motion in the joints, misaligned vertebrae, nerve impingements, disc problems, as well as issues with the muscles that attach to the bones.  Once the problem is figured out most chiropractors use specific adjustments, using their hands or adjusting instruments restore proper motion and function to the affected area.  Some chiropractors may also work on the surrounding musculature as well.

Other factors that affect spinal pain.

Much of the time lower back pain is caused by and underlying mechanical condition that has developed over time.  Especially degenerative disc disease according to the National Institute of Health.  There are other common factors that can contribute to a person’s pain levels.  Things that affect you in your everyday life like; an inflammatory diet, lack of exercise, being overweight, poor posture, previous injuries, repetitive motions as well as other things you do on a daily basis can contribute to pain.

Other Studies that show the benefits of chiropractic care with spine pain

There are many studies out there showing the efficacy of chiropractic care.  Here are a few:

A study published in 2003, in the journal Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (JMPT) showed that chiropractic care was greater than 5 times more effective than drugs and more than 2 times as effective as acupuncture when treating chronic pain in the spine

Muller R, Lynton G.F. Giles LGF, DC, PhD; Long-Term Follow-up of a Randomized Clinical Trial Assessing the Efficacy of Medication, Acupuncture, and Spinal Manipulation for Chronic Mechanical Spinal Pain Syndromes; Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, January 2005, Volume 28, No. 1.

A 2011 study in the journal SPINE found that regular maintenance spinal adjustments provided better long-term outcomes for managing pain and functional efficacy in patients who experience chronic lower back conditions.

Senna MK1Machaly SA.: Does maintained spinal manipulation therapy for chronic nonspecific low back pain result in better long-term outcome?, Spine  2011 Aug 15;36(18):1427-37. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0b013e3181f5dfe0.