By Dr. Andrea Wick EBS CONTRIBUTOR
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 50 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. This has placed our country in its first ever opioid epidemic, leading to the abuse of drugs such as heroin and fentanyl.
During the ’90s, many patients were prescribed drugs such as hydrocodone and oxycodone post-surgery or after cancer treatment. Now, back pain, anxiety, depression and other mood disorders are some of the most common ailments treated with opioids.
According to the “Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine,” the lack of knowledge and research on the long-term use of these drugs has resulted in the current crisis, leaving many at a loss for pain-management options.
However, the psychology of pain can help us to understand better treatment outcomes.
Pain is an important part of the injury process and helps our body tell us when we’re reinjuring ourselves or going beyond the limit of what we can tolerate. Additionally, pain has a large emotional component that’s highly untreated or ignored.
Pain triggers the sensory cortex of the brain, specifically the dorsal posterior insula as found by University of Oxford scientists. Finding modalities or treatments that lessen the activity in this area of the brain will lead to better pain-management outcomes.
There are options for pain management that don’t come in the form of a prescription medication. Scientifically proven non-drug options include chiropractic care, acupuncture, massage therapy, physical therapy, meditation and relaxation techniques. Supplements such as curcumin, turmeric and proteolytic enzymes, as well as medical marijuana and cannabidiol oil can also replace synthetic drug therapies.
Chiropractic care is recognized by Harvard Medical School as being a successful agent for back-pain treatment. Reports indicate that spinal manipulation is more effective than a placebo and as effective as medication for reducing low-back pain, and nearly one-fourth of regular chiropractic patients had significantly lower total health-care costs, decreased hospital admissions and a reduced need for prescription pharmaceuticals.
As a chiropractor, I’m biased toward regular chiropractic care for pain management. However, any of the options listed above will lead to a better, healthier life that could keep all of us opioid-free.
Dr. Andrea Wick is a chiropractor and applied kinesiologist in Big Sky who graduated from Life University in Marietta, Georgia. She has a passion for holistic health care and being active in the outdoors.