By Samuel W. Ascioti, DC
September is now upon us, and with it comes the observance of a topic that, in recent years, has become more and more prominent in the public: the ability to manage pain without the use of prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medications. As such, September is National Drug-Free Pain Management Awareness Month, and Corning Chiropractic Associates is proud to offer drug-free alternatives to the community.
Today, more than 100 million individuals in the United States battle some form of chronic pain, and many of those people are searching for some form of instant relief. After all, who doesn’t like being pain-free? Simple OTC pharmaceuticals, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can provide relief for some people, but others may feel like more is needed – this is when the danger for drug abuse can become a very real problem, through the misuse or over-reliance of pharmaceuticals like opioid painkillers, muscle relaxants, and other similar drugs.
Did you know that nearly 200,000 Americans are hospitalized each year for misuse of OTCs? Taking too much Tylenol or Advil can increase the risk of dangerous complications; OTCs can cause kidney and liver damage, internal ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding, and even risks for heart problems.
Some common reasons people turn to prescription or OTC medications include low back or neck pain, migraines/headaches, and the various forms of arthritis and the aches and pains associated with everyday life. Despite this, 78% of Americans want to try to find alternative ways to handle physical pain rather than turning to pain medication, according to a Gallup Palmer Annual Report.
For those with back pain, chiropractic care is a beneficial alternative form of treatment that millions of Americans enjoy; according to a study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, the likelihood of actually filling a prescription for an opioid painkiller was about 55% lower for those receiving chiropractic care than for those who are not. Overall, chiropractic patients are less likely to use less OTCs or pain medications!
Common Drug-Free Alternatives to Pain Management
Chiropractic – Chiropractic care is the first choice for managing low back and neck pain as well as headaches for millions of Americans, using gentle and individualized approaches to healthcare
Cryotherapy – Apply ice wrapped in a washcloth to the affected area, 10-15 minutes as needed
Thermotherapy – Apply a heated corn bag to the affected area, 10-15 minutes as needed
Foods – Garlic and turmeric have been shown to reduce inflammation (4,5)
Stretching and Exercise – Daily exercise can help prevent loss of range of motion and reduce stiffness in muscles and joints, as well as produce the “feel-good” chemicals to give you a mental boost
Weight Loss – Losing a few pounds can reduce stress on the body’s joints and can help a patient manage pain more effectively (6)
Acupuncture and Massage – Both massage therapy and acupuncture have been shown to help reduce pain and inflammation in patients with both acute and chronic pain (1,3)
If you are dealing with chronic pain and are worried about the use of potentially harmful pharmaceuticals or drugs, contact your local chiropractor or talk to your physician. Pain can be effectively managed without the use of drugs, and it just takes a bit of experimentation and following the advice of your healthcare provider to establish what works (or doesn’t work) for you.
- Acupuncture in pain management. (2017, December 13). Retrieved from
- Clum, G. C., Meeker, W., Carabello, L., McAllister, S., & Lignos, A. (2017). Chiropractic: A Key to America’s Opioid Exit Strategy. Retrieved from https://www.f4cp.com/files/industry-news/f4cp-opioids-2.0-white-paper-web.pdf
- Crawford, C., Boyd, C., Paat, C. F., Price, A., Xenakis, L., Yang, E., . . . Whitridge, P. (2016, July). The Impact of Massage Therapy on Function in Pain Populations—A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials: Part I, Patients Experiencing Pain in the General Population. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4925170/
- Schäfer, G., & Kaschula, C. H. (2014, February). The Immunomodulation and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Garlic Organosulfur Compounds in Cancer Chemoprevention. Retrieved August 30, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3915757/
- Turmeric: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosage, and Warning. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-662/turmeric
- Vincent, H. K., Heywood, K., Connelley, J., & Hurley, R. W. (2012, May). HHS Public Access Weight Loss and Obesity in the Treatment and Prevention of Osteoarthritis. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3623013/