Chiropractic Care as first line treatment for acute & chronic pain By: Dr. Silvia Villani

One in Five Canadians suffer from chronic pain, defined as pain lasting for more than 3 months. 85 % of workers will suffer from back pain at least once in their lifetime, which can re-occur or become chronic. It can affect your ability to carry out tasks of daily living and your quality of life.

Unfortunately, opioid drugs/narcotics such as morphine and oxycodone are often used as a first line of treatment for chronic pain, especially for lower back pain, or arthritis. In addition, there is higher incidence of opioid use amongst seniors. This is a problem! Did you know that risks from opioid prescription can include addiction and even death? Recently, it has been documented that 2000 Canadians die annually of opioid overuse. Canada is the 2nd highest opioid prescribing nation in the world. Better approaches are needed to manage pain and reduce reliance on opioids as a primary intervention.

In my view, patients who look for immediate pain relief through use of drugs are unaware of other treatment options available to them. For example, managing back pain conservatively, through Chiropractic care is a safe, effective, evidence- based alternative approach.  In fact, one of the key recommendations of new Canadian guidelines for the management of chronic pain, published in May 2017 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, is to consider non-pharmacologic therapy before opioids.

Chiropractors are musculoskeletal experts and can provide an assessment and management for pain and dysfunction. They can use spinal manipulation/mobilization techniques, soft tissue therapies, acupuncture, and other modalities to help relieve pain and improve function. Opioids, on the other hand may delay return to normal activities and provide little or no benefit in terms of function. It’s important to remember that there is no quick fix solution to pain. A commitment to a treatment plan is essential to return to activities of daily living such as work, leisure activities, self-care and other family commitments. At our centre, we believe that all patients should be assessed carefully and treated on an individualized basis with a specific care plan. Chiropractic care should be considered as a first line treatment option for the management of musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction.