Pain Medication Vs. Chiropractic

Here is a link to that story referenced in the title that I’m using to compare pain medication safety and efficacy vs. Chiropractic.

You would think that the subject of this headline from the Washington Post would say it all and yet strangely enough, I have something more to say about pain medication vs. Chiropractic.

I am not saying that 50,000 people would be alive right now if not for their poor choice of doctor, but many of these deaths were a result of a doctor prescribing addictive pain medication.  Is it the doctor’s fault?  As a chiropractor I say yes and no.

A patient in acute pain from a traumatic injury leaves a doctor with no choice but to manage the pain with what they have, which is strong medications.   So not guilty on that count.

The addiction occurs later when the pathology of what caused the pain should have been long gone, but the patient has found that they can’t control their desire for the euphoric effects of the little bit of opioids in the Vicodin that is filled with lots of Tylenol and when the addiction sets in, so does liver damage from the extra Tylenol being consumed.

Improper healing leads to chronic pain syndromes and this is where I do fault modern medicine, which is practiced by doctors.  A study published in The Annals of Internal Medicine in 2012 revealed that patients who regularly saw a chiropractor had a 75 percent reduction in their neck pain, while only 33 percent of those who took prescription pain killers saw improvement.  More likely than not, your doctor did not strongly recommend you see a chiropractor.

A few additional facts are necessary to put this in a little proper perspective.  70 percent of Americans are on at least one prescription drug.  According to the researchers at the Mayo Clinic, just over half use two prescriptions. As we saw from the guy that crashed and died in that air balloon accident recently, a surprising 20 percent take five or more.  Some of the most commonly prescribed drugs are painkillers and antidepressants.  A direct correlation between regular use of painkiller opioids and depression is like salt and pepper; they go together, but unlike salt and pepper, not well.  Sadly, I discovered this next fact from the loss of a dear friend.  In 2010,  five times as many women died from painkiller overdoses as compared to just ten years earlier.

Doctor’s should be aware of alternative treatment options, but let me know if you received any of the advice this stranger as in me is giving you, as opposed to your personal physician.  The need for these strong medications can be reduced by chiropractic and for those of you that think that is impossible, otherwise your doctor would have told you, I just told you that he is not going to tell you.  I’m now going to tell you some scientific cutting edge neuroscience to justify why you want to go to a chiropractor.

Pain signals known as nociception can result in reflex vasoconstriction and muscle spasm.  These pain signals also spill onto higher brain centers via the spinal cord and bombard the brain stem and hypothalamus, which effects digestion, cardiovascular and respiratory symptoms.  When a chiropractor adjusts your spine and you hear that popping sound from the spinal joints, the most powerful nerves in your body are stimulated and their signals get to your pain center in your brain, the thalamus, much quicker than the smaller nerves that carry pain.  That reduces the amount of actual pain signals to your brain and if they don’t get there you don’t know you hurt.  You know this concept because the dentist can drill away at your tooth and you don’t feel it, not until the novocaine wears off.  Keep in mind the purpose for initial pain is to stop you from doing more harm to yourself.  It evolved over millions of years and yet my patients have found brilliant ways around this protective mechanism that nature in all her wisdom provided us.

The neurology of pain is incredibly complex and could take years to understand it, but what you want to understand is that there are also nutritional biochemical factors that are also involved when the chiropractor adjusts spinal joints that have tremendous effects on how you feel.  We all accept that pharmaceutical chemicals can affect these nerve centers, but have little faith in nutrients being able to affect the pain irritating chemicals produced by injury, such as lactic acid, potassium ions, Prostaglandin E-2, Leukotriene B-4, Glycosaminoglycans, Histamine, 5-hydroxytryptamine, and bradykinins.   Not only does adjusting the spinal joints mechanically relieve some of these chemical factors causing pain, by neurologically and chemically assisting, if your chiropractor understands that chronic inflammation from the bad foods we eat causes chronic pain and recommends natural anti-inflammatory nutrients to counteract the damage that we do, you stand a better chance of not becoming the 50,000 and 1 person to die unnecessarily.  Don’t confuse the natural anti-inflammatories that I use with the anti-inflammatories that the doctor or the drug store gives you because they also give you more damage in other systems like your Kidneys and Liver.  If you don’t believe me, Google Alonzo Mourning the all star NBA Center.

Slightly different category:  Certainly the doctor can’t do anything about the patients that have never taken care of themselves and pain medication is really all they have when you find yourself in this situation.  This is when sometimes the patient’s become so distraught over their situation that they try a different way, a better way, and it is called Chiropractic.  These same patients are the ones that often tell people about the miracle they experienced.


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