The opioid crisis in America is no secret. Over 30 percent of Americans experience pain, and opioid prescriptions for pain skyrocketed in the last two decades. |
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), as high as one in four patients on long term opioids struggle with addiction. More than 1,000 patients are treated in the emergency room each day for misusing opioids. With the crackdown on prescription narcotics, most doctors and patients see pain management physicians as the only option. The sad fact is, these patients did not seek a physician’s help looking to become addicted—they sought help for pain. While pain is real and opioid pain medications can be useful, narcotics come with not only side effects, but significant risk of overdose and addiction. Today, experts suggest non-pharmacological therapies to reduce the prescribing of opioids.
So, what are the approximately 50 million Americans who suffer from chronic pain to do?
Fortunately, there are many drug-free alternatives available. While some patients receiving alternative or complementary treatments may continue to require medications, these treatment options can allow lower and less frequent doses of narcotics.
In this article, I will focus on three effective options.
1. Chiropractic care
The most common non-surgical treatment for back pain is chiropractic treatment. Research also shows chiropractic care can be helpful with many other painful conditions, such as neck pain, headaches, and extremity pain, including carpal tunnel syndrome, plantar fasciitis, and sports injuries.
Chiropractic treatments focus on the structure and function of the body with manipulations to improve the body’s alignment. This helps relieve pain, improves function, and allows the body to heal itself. It can also include ergonomic training (learning proper ways to sit, stand, and walk to limit injuries) and exercise and postural education.
Numerous studies have shown the effectiveness of acupuncture for pain relief. In fact, The World Health Organization recognizes over 30 conditions and diseases that can benefit from acupuncture.
An ancient Chinese healing art, acupuncture has been around for over 2,000 years. It is based on the belief that vital energy flows along paths, or meridians, through the body. Disposable, hair-thin needles are inserted just below the skin to stimulate the flow of energy at specific points on your body. This stimulation rebalances energy flow and reduces pain.
It is also believed that acupuncture decreases pain by increasing the release of endorphins—our bodies “natural painkiller.” When the needles stimulate nerves near the acupoints, a message is sent to the brain to release the endorphins. In addition, neurotransmitters in the body block the pain message from being sent to the brain. Acupuncture can be useful as an alternative or complementary treatment for many pain conditions, including fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, menstrual cramps, headaches, back pain, and myofascial pain.
3. Myofascial release therapy
Myofascial release is a treatment to stretch or massage myofascial connective tissue. Also known as fascia, this is a web-like connective tissue that surrounds muscles, nerves, blood vessels, bones, and organs, holding everything in the body together. When one area is pulled or injured, it causes a ripple effect throughout the body.
Myofascial release can be helpful with:
• Repetitive injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome • Headaches • Stiffness and pain in soft tissue • Tightness or loss of flexibility in joints • TMJ disorder
Ever have a shirt or sweater with a loose thread you pulled? Most often, this results in a gnarling and bunching of the material. When injured, our fascia does the same thing. The tissue, which is normally flexible, becomes tight and binds muscles. This restricts blood flow, which increases the tightness and pain and restricts joint and muscle movements, further restricting blood flow. Over time, this vicious cycle can become a “trigger point.” Injury can occur from repetitive use, trauma, surgery, inflammatory response, poor posture, stress, being sedentary, and even depression.
Myofascial release involves gentle, sustained stretching, pressure, and massage to loosen restricted movement and ease tightness and tension, which provides pain relief and allows healing. It is safe and effective.
Progress is determined by decreased pain and increased motion and function.
Many studies have shown that chiropractic treatment, acupuncture, and myofascial release work as well, if not better, than other treatments for back pain. These natural treatment options have reduced the number of opioid prescriptions.
If you would like to learn more about natural treatment options for pain, including chiropractic care, myofascial release, and acupuncture, Contact Dr. Cody Doyle at Doyle Chiropractic and Acupuncture online or call (817) 767-5430 today. Dr. Doyle sees patients in the North Texas areas, including Argyle, Roanoke, Keller, Trophy Club, and Justin areas.
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