Chiropractic can help reduce opioid dependency

by | Apr 26, 2019

New research suggests that chiropractic care is associated with a significant reduction in opioid prescriptions compared with non-chiropractic care.

There has been a tenfold increase in the number of people over 60 getting help for an addiction to opiate drugs. Figures released by the Ministry of Health last year show 530 people aged 60 or over are now getting what is called opioid substitution treatment

We know there are many more New Zealanders who have a dependence on opioids but have not put their hand up for help. Drugs such as morphine, codeine, Tramadol and Fentanyl are too often given as pain relievers when there are other drug free ways to help manage pain, such as chiropractic. Some people develop an addiction to these drugs, even when used under a doctor’s guidelines. Across the world preventing opioid addiction and overdose is a significant public health priority; and as part of a strategy to reduce opioid use, clinical guidelines in many countries now recommend many drug-free options to be considered as front-line treatment ahead of any medication. .

Recent research presented to the American Academy of Pain Medicine (AAPM) showed that patients who visited a chiropractor to help manage a musculoskeletal pain condition were 49% less likely to receive an opioid prescription than their counterparts who went to other healthcare providers.

Chiropractors provide many of the care recommendations included in the clinical guidelines for the initial management of low back pain, neck pain, and pain due to osteoarthritis of the hip, knee, and hand.

Researchers said that they knew of “a small but growing amount of scientific literature” suggesting that chiropractic care may be correlated with a reduction in opioid use. But this is the first time a study has systematically reviewed all of the available literature to determine if indeed there was an overall association between the use of chiropractic care and receipt of opioids.

Chiropractors are uniquely placed to provide care that specifically focuses on the health of the spine and the relationship between the spine and the nervous system. New Zealand’s chiropractors are particularly passionate about using education and natural techniques to prevent and minimise pain and disability. By having a greater understanding of the relationship between your spine and nervous system, improving your posture, addressing and preventing spinal problems, and engaging in physical activity, you can support your body to function at its best.

Talk to us today about how chiropractic can support you in pain management. You can also read the full media release of the above study here.


Low back pain: a call for action Lancet Volume 391, No. 10137, p2384–2388, 9 June 2018

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