The American College of Physicians has updated their guidelines in treating lower back pain. For the ACP to release new guidelines, this means that new studies citing hours, weeks, months and even years of research have proven past techniques less effective than originally thought, bringing new treatment options to light and to the forefront of primary care. Unsurprisingly, the new guidelines strongly discourage the use of opioids for the treatment of lower back pain. Instead, they highly recommend seeking conservative non-drug treatment through lifestyle changes, chiropractic and overall wellness. There have been many surprising statistics released on the harmful effects of opioids, a class of drug that includes oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine and even the illegal drug heroin. Extra-strength pain relievers such as oxycodone and hydrocodone are prescribed by doctors to patients with acute pain levels. Though they are effective in chemically altering the brain to lessen the sensitivity to pain, opioids cause far more harm than good and have largely been unregulated in the medical field.
The ACP’s recommendation to move away from the prescription of opioids into more holistic, non-drug therapy options is an example of how more and more medical professionals are recommending cost-efficient, conservative treatment options for conditions such as back pain. Lower back pain is one of the main reasons Americans visit the doctor at a high frequency and is responsible for increasingly expensive treatments and prescriptions along with wages lost due to the patient’s inability to work.
Of the non-drug therapies recommended by the ACP, chiropractic, lifestyle modifications, therapeutic exercise, mindfulness-based stress reduction and superficial heat are all high on the list. The reasons behind these recommendations are not difficult to perceive; by seeking treatment through spinal manipulation, mindfulness and exercise, you not only allow your body to tap into its own power to heal itself, but you promote total-body wellbeing, which, coincidentally, is the opposite effect of opioid use.
I help dozens of patients each week overcome lower back pain. The hard reality of any form of back pain is that it requires conservative, frequent treatment and maintenance. By only addressing the pain (the symptom), you ignore the structural problem and set yourself up for re-injury. For the individuals who cannot perform his or her profession on account of back pain, they quite literally cannot afford the risk of re-injury, especially if they are relying on pricey prescriptions to mask the pain. The patterns of patients re-injuring themselves only to continue paying expensive medical bills and renewing their prescriptions was observed over an eight-year period by the ACP; in realizing the expensive and detrimental cycle, the guidelines shifted to welcome a more holistic approach.
By seeking treatment for back pain through chiropractic and exercise, you better yourself as a whole. You become better at your job and are able to perform more consistently, your mental state will improve through methods of stress-reduction and you won’t be dependent on chemicals to help alleviate a mere symptom of the problem at hand. When you learn to address your body as a whole and unlock the power of your own body to heal itself, everything has the potential to improve. I can assist you with every step of the process, from assessing your needs to understanding the underlying problem that is causing your pain, to walking you through new lifestyle changes and exercises that will not only improve your current state but prevent re-injury.
If you’re considering new options for your pain treatment and are noticing more harmful effects of opioids than positive results, you will benefit from a consultation with me at Lifestyle Chiropractic – (920) 499-3333.
Best of health,
Dr. Chad M. Hoffman