The American Academy of Pain Medicine published the results of a study on March 6, 2020, in their journal Pain Medicine showing that utilizing chiropractic reduces the number of opioid prescriptions.
The stated objective of this study was, “Utilization of nonpharmacological pain management may prevent unnecessary use of opioids. Our objective was to evaluate the impact of chiropractic utilization upon use of prescription opioids among patients with spinal pain.”
The study begins by identifying the scale of the problem, “Drug overdose deaths in 2017 increased by almost 10% over 2016, with opioids accounting for almost 48,000 cases.” The authors point out that a need for a safe and drug-free alternative is needed to help reduce the opioid epidemic issue. They also note that the “Institute of Medicine has recommended the use of nonpharmacological therapies as effective alternatives to pharmacotherapy for patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain.”
The American College of Physicians also recommends non-pharmacological approaches to treating back pain. Presently, of all U.S. adults who are prescribed opioids, 59 percent are for back pain.
Several previous studies have shown that chiropractic reduces the use of opioids. One study of 165,569 adults diagnosed with low back pain found that utilization of chiropractic was associated with reduced use of opioids. Another study of 14,025 military veterans showed a reduction of opioid usage after chiropractic care was started.
This study was conducted by looking at 101,221 insurance claims of people in three U.S. states who were suffering with musculoskeletal complaints. The study compared to see the number of opioid prescriptions filled over a six-year period for those who went to a chiropractor compared to those who did not.
The results of this study showed that chiropractic recipients were at about half the risk of seeking an opioid prescription over the six-year follow-up period than those that did not get chiropractic. The study also showed that those who sought chiropractic earlier for their problem were even less likely to seek an opioid prescription than those that waited longer to see a chiropractor.
In their conclusion the authors summed up the results by stating, “Among patients with spinal pain disorders, for recipients of chiropractic care, the risk of filling a prescription for an opioid analgesic over a six-year period was reduced by half, as compared with nonrecipients. Among those who saw a chiropractor within 30 days of being diagnosed with a spinal pain disorder, the reduction in risk was greater as compared with those who visited a chiropractor after the acute phase had passed.”
On March 4, 2020, the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress released the results of a Harris Poll Showing that 81 percent of the general public believe chiropractic is effective for athletes. The survey was commissioned by the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress (F4CP), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to educating the public about the value of chiropractic care.
In January of 2020, the Harris Poll conducted a survey of 2,015 U.S. consumers over the age of 18 to measure their opinions of chiropractic for both professional and amateur athletes. The results showed that more than 8 in 10 of them thought chiropractic was effective for both amateur and professional athletes alike.
The survey further showed that 49 percent of respondents thought that chiropractic was “very effective” for athletes to “restore joint function and support the neuro-musculoskeletal system.”
Competitive athletes have known the benefits of chiropractic for some time. Currently all National Football League teams have a chiropractor as part of their training and medical staff. Additionally, most National Basketball Association teams and most Major League Baseball teams also have chiropractors on staff or available to help their athletes.
Top level individual athletes have also recognized the benefits of chiropractic as many Olympic athletes have chiropractors they depend on for peak performance. For over a decade, the Arnold Classic sports event held yearly in Columbus, Ohio, has been conducted in conjunction with the International Chiropractors Association Sports Symposium. At that event, Arnold Schwarzenegger himself speaks to the group of chiropractors and testifies as to the benefits of chiropractic.
Sherry McAllister, DC, executive vice president of F4CP, commented on the Harris poll by saying, “The Harris Poll results verify what amateur and professional athletes have known for years: not only does chiropractic care help them prevent and recover from injury, it also improves their performance in the competitive arena.” She continued, “This is exactly why doctors of chiropractic are on staff for various types of professional sports teams and will be in Japan this summer caring for our Olympic athletes.”
The study showed that a higher percentage of millennials ages 18 to 34 had favorable opinions on chiropractic. As many as 88 percent thought chiropractic was beneficial for athletes compared to 69 percent for those 65 and older.
“Chiropractic care delivers pain relief, improved mobility and overall better quality of life and athletic performance for millions of patients around the world, so I’m not surprised that so many consumers of different backgrounds have similar positive perspectives,” said Dr. McAllister. “In some cases, patients may be required to pay more out-of-pocket for chiropractic care due to health plan restrictions, which may influence their opinion. My hope is that more health insurers look at the evidence of chiropractic care’s superior patient outcomes and satisfaction so that more consumers and athletes of all ages can access our care in the future.”
The Journal of Contemporary Chiropractic published the results of a case study February 14, 2020, documenting the improvement of neck pain, anxiety and cortisol levels as a result of chiropractic care. Elevated cortisol levels are typically associated with stress and anxiety, and measuring cortisol levels is a good way to measure a reduction in anxiety levels.
The study begins by noting how common neck pain is, and the connection between neck pain and anxiety. “Neck pain is common and has a considerable impact on individuals and their families, communities, healthcare systems, and businesses. At least 33% and as high as 65% of people have suffered and recovered from an episode of neck pain within the last year.”
The study also points out that women are more likely than men to suffer from persistent neck pain and neck problems. The authors also report, “Of all 291 conditions studied in the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Burden of Disease 2010 (GBD) study, neck pain ranked 4th in terms of disability and contributes to an economic burden of billions of dollars in costs associated with treatment and lost work time.”
The American Psychological Association defines anxiety by stating, “Anxiety is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure. People with anxiety disorders usually have recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns. They may avoid certain situations out of worry. They may also have physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, dizziness or a rapid heartbeat.”
In this case, a 40-year-old woman was suffering for the previous two weeks with chronic recurring neck pain and headache that was made worse by an increase of desk and computer work. She described her condition as constant pain with tension throughout the upper back and neck which was made worse by sitting or driving. She was also suffering with headaches. The pain, which the woman rated as 7 out of 10 with 10 being the worst, made sleeping difficult. The woman reported a history of anxiety which was getting worse as her pain was increasing.
A chiropractic examination was performed which included a postural inspection, spinal range of motions tests, static and motion spinal palpation, and spinal x-rays. The conclusion from these tests was that subluxations were present. The woman also submitted to a saliva test to establish a baseline salivary cortisol level so that this could be compared to future cortisol level tests as a measure of anxiety and stress levels.
Regular specific chiropractic adjustments were given over a 12-week period. As care was progressing, the woman reported that her symptoms were significantly improving and that her headaches had completely resolved. She also reported that she no longer had trouble sleeping and her anxiety was gone. To objectively measure the woman’s anxiety levels, a follow-up saliva study was performed to test the woman’s cortisol levels. This test showed a reduction of salivary cortisol levels, thus confirming her reduction in anxiety.
In their conclusion the authors noted, “Chiropractic management of chronic, recurring neck pain and headache in a patient with anxiety was associated with subjective improvement in both musculoskeletal and anxiety symptoms resulting in improved physical function.”
The Annals of Vertebral Subluxation Research published the results of a case study in their journal on January 30, 2020, documenting the structural improvement of a woman’s spine who was suffering with arm pain, weakness, numbness, and tingling, known collectively as radiculopathy.
In most case studies, the focus of the researchers is the symptomatic resolution of the main complaints that the patient was suffering with when they first started chiropractic care. This published study focuses on the objective documented changes to the structure of this patient’s spine in addition to the symptomatic improvement the patient received.
According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, “Cervical radiculopathy, commonly called a ‘pinched nerve’ occurs when a nerve in the neck is compressed or irritated where it branches away from the spinal cord. This may cause pain that radiates into the shoulder, as well as muscle weakness and numbness that travels down the arm and into the hand.” The study reports that cervical radiculopathy occurs in about 85 out of 100,000 people.
In this case, a woman was suffering with right arm numbness and pain, as well as tingling down into her fingers that started for two months prior to seeking chiropractic care. She went to her medical physician who took x-rays of her neck and prescribed anti-inflammatory medication, steroids, and performed an injection. She had also seen a physical therapist three times per week and had recently received an MRI.
A chiropractic examination was performed which included physical procedures as well as thermography of the spine and spinal x-rays. The results of these test along with the MRI that was previously done showed that there were degenerative changes with spinal cord narrowing in the woman’s neck. The chiropractic diagnosis was multiple areas of cervical subluxations. From this information, a course of specific chiropractic care was started to address the subluxations.
Inherent in the determination of a subluxation is the fact that vertebrae are out of their normal position and postural changes have often occurred. This case study specifically noted those changes and showed that in follow-up x-rays, there was a positive change in the physical positioning of vertebrae as well as the woman gaining symptomatic relief.
For the purpose of this study, the authors gave a definition of subluxation as the following; “A condition where a vertebra has lost normal juxtaposition with the one above or the one below or both, to the extent less than a luxation, occluding an opening, impinging nerves, and interfering with the normal flow of the mental impulses from the brain and tissue.”
In their conclusion, the authors noted that through specific correction of the subluxations found in this patient, there was improvement in both the patient’s subjective symptoms, as well as improved objective findings related to the structural spinal position as shown on follow-up x-ray studies.