Can Chiropractic Care Reduce the Need for Pain Medication?

A physical therapist operates a device with equipment straps, as part of her chiropractic care.

Our country is sadly in the middle of the worst opioid epidemic we’ve ever seen. Stereotypes that paint drug addicts as deadbeats who made bad choices in life permeate our culture, despite the growing number of lives being lost every day to fatal overdoses. The truth is that many of the people who end up addicted to these drugs became addicted by doing what all of us are told to do – trusting our doctor. Medical advancements in pain management are a wonderful thing when respected and used mindfully. However, potentially addictive pharmaceutical painkillers tend to be overprescribed in many cases, and that’s where addiction starts for many people. Once their prescription runs out, they realize it’s already too late and they’ve become physically dependent on the drugs.

You might be a chronic pain sufferer yourself, or maybe you’re close to someone who suffers from chronic pain. Perhaps prescription drugs have seemed like the most obvious or only solution to that pain. Maybe you’re also one of the millions of Americans who hesitates before taking another painkiller because you worry you could be just one more dose away from drug dependency. But no one wants to suffer with chronic pain and little to no relief, so what is the solution? How can someone find natural pain relief that works while reducing or eliminating the need for prescription medication? The surprising answer may lie in something you’ve almost certainly heard of before, even if you didn’t think it was something you could benefit from.

Chiropractic care for chronic pain is a safe, natural, drug-free form of alternative medicine that has been practiced for centuries. By combining the holistic benefits of chiropractic care with scientific advances in osteopathic medicine, your provider should be able to work with you to find a treatment plan that centers on pain management with as little drug interference as possible. Modern chiropractors use a combination of chiropractic adjustments, soft tissue work, and lifestyle counseling to help reduce or eliminate the need for prescription pain medication by treating your pain holistically.

How Will Chiropractic Care Address My Pain?

The secret to why chiropractic care has become a well-established industry that millions of people trust to help manage their pain is in the expertise of the chiropractor and the spinal manipulation techniques they use. Their main goal is to identify and treat the underlying cause of the pain rather than just masking the symptoms with medication. They may use a combination of multiple techniques, or if they’re a Doctor of Osteopathy, they may still employ the use of pharmaceutical intervention to achieve complete pain relief with a much safer prescription. Let’s examine some of the ways your chiropractor may address your pain and why they work.

Spinal Manipulation For Back Pain

The service the chiropractic industry is most known for are musculoskeletal adjustments that cause all your joints to make that familiar cracking sound. The purpose of chiropractic adjustments like spinal manipulation is to realign the spinal column and reduce strain and pressure on your nerves and joints. If your back pain is caused by poor posture, spinal manipulation can be particularly effective in treating the cause of the pain, which in turn relives the symptoms.

Soft Tissue Therapy for Joint Pain

Wherever you’re hurting, tense muscles can worsen the problem by tightening and spasming around the affected area, causing limited mobility and discomfort. By utilizing holistic therapies such as massage and myofascial release, your chiropractor can help alleviate joint and nerve pain by relaxing your muscles, treating the tension created by muscle spasms. Even headaches and migraines can be relieved by soft tissue therapy if the cause is tension in the neck, back, and shoulders.

Recommended Exercise and Lifestyle Changes For Chronic Pain

In some cases, pain can be caused by something in your life that is putting undue strain on your musculoskeletal system. If this is the case, in-office chiropractic care can help, but the root cause will need to be addressed by you. Luckily, your chiropractor should be able to help you identify the things in your environment that are causing you problems and help you find solutions. If your chiropractor determines by speaking with you that your current office chair is not supportive enough, they may recommend certain chairs that are highly praised for their ergonomics. If your pain is caused by muscle imbalances, they may prescribe you a set of exercises that can help correct those imbalances.

A male healthcare professional performs a chiropractic adjustment on a patient's back.

Is Chiropractic Care Better Than Pain Medication?

Everyone’s situation is different, which means there is no simple answer as to what is better. For some people whose pain is caused by something outside the area of chiropractic expertise, you may be recommended to a specialist who can better treat your specific condition. Pain medication and more invasive interventions may be needed, depending on the source of the pain. However, if you are suffering from pain caused by something that falls within the chiropractic realm, the need for pain medication may be reduced or eliminated. While we can’t make a generalization for something as personalized as medical care, we can examine some of the aspects of chiropractic care that clients find preferable to pain medication.

Chiropractic Care Is Natural And Holistic

One of the benefits of chiropractic care over pain medication is that chiropractic care in and of itself is completely natural and drug-free. There is no addictive factor to worry about and no risk of overdose. As with any treatment of the human body, chiropractic care should be provided by a licensed professional who is experienced in the techniques they are using. Just because something is natural does not automatically mean it is safe, so be sure to do your research when choosing a chiropractor. By taking a holistic approach to pain relief, your chiropractor can help you avoid the potential dangers of pharmaceutical misuse.

Chiropractic Care Is Non-Invasive

Another aspect of chiropractic care that clients often cite as being a draw for them is the fact that chiropractic services are non-invasive. If your situation requires an invasive treatment to see results, your chiropractor should be able to discern this and refer you to the proper specialist. However, many people have pain that, while debilitating, can be treated with much gentler means than invasive procedures that are sometimes performed prematurely or without attempting any other treatment methods.

Chiropractic Care Addresses Lifestyle Factors

If your pain is determined to be caused by environmental factors or muscular imbalances, your chiropractor may also be able to help you create a plan of action outside the office to not only treat your pain but attack the source. Your chiropractor will be able to determine if your office setup needs to be more ergonomic, if your mattress is not providing proper back and neck support, or if the muscles on one side of your body are weaker than the other side leading to muscular imbalances that put unequal strain on your body. Pain medication won’t be able to offer you lifestyle changes that promote pain relief and proper musculoskeletal alignment.

The Advantages of Chiropractic Care Over Pain Medication

While there is no substitution for pharmaceutical intervention in cases where it’s truly needed, many chronic pain patients could potentially reduce or eliminate the need for prescription painkillers by taking a different approach to managing their pain. The benefits of chiropractic care offer a natural and holistic approach that doesn’t carry the risk of addiction or overdose. Chiropractic care can also work in combination with modern medicine to provide a uniquely tailored approach to your individual needs and concerns.

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