If you read my blog regularly, you’re probably aware that I’m not a huge fan of using medications as a silver bullet to address pain. Unfortunately, there are lot of doctors out there who don’t agree with me, writing prescriptions for pain, instead of referring patients to someone like me, who can resolve the pain’s underlying cause.
While it’s true that pain medication can sometimes be helpful, the topic of this article is what’s better for neck pain – medication or chiropractic? Call me biased (because I’m a chiropractor), but there’s no comparison between the two.
A growing crisis in the USA.
The US Drug Enforcement Administration reports that nearly half of all deaths resulting from opioid overdose involved the writing of a prescription. In 2015, deaths from opioid overdoses surpassed car accidents and guns as a leading killer in the US.
This indicates that we have a problem on our hands and some of that problem is right in the doctor’s office and the scripts being written there.
While not everyone who uses opioids to manage pain will become addicted, the statistics are shocking enough that it’s time all doctors sought better ways to help their patients manage pain than medication.
Other problems with medication.
Even medications as innocuous as anti-inflammatories can present difficulties to patients who are on them to relieve and manage pain. These medications can affect the stomach lining and internal organs. If people become too accustomed to them, their dosages need to be increased.
And that’s a real problem when people with neck pain can walk into a pharmacy and buy 800 milligram dose tablets over the counter. If they’re not taking these medications under the guidance of a physician, then can do themselves real and lasting harm.
Pain that’s dulled isn’t gone.
Painkillers and anti-inflammatories offer temporary relief, but lurking beneath the surface of that relief is the neck pain. It’s still there and it’s not being addressed. People still have pain, but turn to medication to help push it to the side.
When neck pain is masked, some patients will pursue activities they shouldn’t, thinking that because they’re not in pain they can “manage”. That’s a dangerous way of thinking, because until the root cause is diagnosed and adequately treated, neck pain can become worse and be exacerbated by inappropriate activity.
So, what’s better for neck pain – medication or chiropractic? Clearly, there are several issues connected with medication when it’s prescribed for neck pain. In the case of opioids, addiction can result. Problems with the stomach and other internal organs can arise when use becomes habitual. Finally, masking pain can lead to the injury which is causing the pain to become worse, because medication can’t address it.
As a chiropractor, I strongly counsel anyone suffering from neck or back pain for more than 4 weeks to seek immediate medical attention. Getting a diagnosis and then, treatment, is how you solve the problem – not medication.
If you’re experiencing neck pain, contact me.