With an increasing number of people seeking to avoid surgery or potentially addictive drug treatments for their chronic pain, chiropractic physicians are filling the need for alternatives to conventional types of pain management.
In response to the emerging opioid crisis, the American College of Physicians (ACP) made a significant update to its guidelines concerning low back pain, recommending alternative therapies that are non-pharmaceutical first. In addition, the Joint Commission, a nonprofit that accredits more than 21,000 U.S. health care organizations and programs, released new pain assessment and management standards in 2017 that require hospitals to either provide or educate patients about non-pharmacologic pain treatment options, including chiropractic care, acupuncture and massage therapy. Similarly, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain says that physicians need to “provide safer, more effective care for patients with chronic pain” and that “non-opioid therapy is preferred for chronic pain outside of active cancer, palliative and end-of-life care.”
One of the most effective and sought-after types of non-drug pain management is chiropractic treatment. Chiropractic physicians are equipped with a wide array of diagnostic tools and treatment options to help bring relief from pain without surgery or drugs. Many are also trained to incorporate acupuncture and massage therapy techniques in their pain management treatment plans. The ability to provide this type of range of care is why a number of National University of Health Sciences chiropractic students opt for more hours in acupuncture training, or choose to pursue dual chiropractic and acupuncture degrees that expand their practice options.
Dispelling the Myths About Chiropractic Care
Many people complain about having pain but think it’s just something they have to live with, that it’s somehow normal. Then there are those who suffer because they think the only solution is muscle relaxers or other pain medications, and they don’t want to take drugs that may impair them or be potentially addicting. Too often, they don’t know that chiropractic physicians can offer them relief.
One of the most common myths about chiropractic physicians is that they only treat back pain. In fact, patients are increasingly seeing chiropractic doctors first for a wide variety of acute and chronic pain, including headaches, athletic injuries, and fertility and pregnancy-related conditions.
Why Chiropractic Medicine is Ideal for Pain Management
Chiropractic physicians focus on the musculoskeletal and nervous systems, and how they impact patient health. These professionals may work in collaboration with patients’ other health care providers to diagnose, treat and manage their health conditions.
As part of their methods, they take into account many factors affecting their patients’ health, including:
- Biomechanical dysfunction
The choice of treatments will vary depending on each patient’s unique needs and life situation, because chiropractic medicine is a holistic approach to health care. For example, in addition to or instead of spinal manipulation your chiropractic doctor may recommend therapeutic stretches and exercises as part of a daily health regimen to help reduce pain, prevent musculoskeletal deterioration, or improve strength and range of motion. Soft tissue manual therapy may also be applied to improve muscle and ligament function.
The ultimate goal of chiropractic medicine is to identify the source of the pain and return the body to its proper musculoskeletal alignment so it can heal itself without the need for medication or surgery.
The Benefits of Chiropractic Medicine as an Alternative Treatment
According to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), recognition of chiropractic therapy as a non-drug approach to pain management is gaining support. Although there are misconceptions and myths surrounding chiropractic medicine, it is an effective treatment option for many pain-related conditions. Most employer sponsored insurance plans now cover chiropractic care, Medicare and Medicaid include many chiropractic services, and it’s offered at military facilities.
The benefits of chiropractic care include:
- Minimizing risk of pain medication dependence
- Treating the causes of pain with natural approaches
- Reducing inflammation
- Improving athletic performance by reducing pain, inflammation and other related conditions
Learn More About Chiropractic Medicine
National University of Health Sciences (NUHS) is dedicated to providing the experiential and educational foundation that health care practitioners in alternative medicine need to have successful careers and make a difference in the lives of their patients. Our Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) program provides the foundation and hands-on experience you need to become a successful chiropractic physician. Learn more by downloading our Career Guide or visiting campus.