According to the CDC, more people died from drug overdoses in 2014 than in any year on record. The majority of these drug overdose deaths (more than six out of ten) involve an opioid. Since 1999, the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids (including prescription opioid pain relievers and heroin) has quadrupled. From 2000 to 2014 nearly half a million people died from drug overdoses. That is 78 Americans per day. At least half of those deaths were from prescribed drugs. There has not been a change in the amount of pain that Americans report, but the prescribing of pain pills has gone through the roof. The U.S. makes up 5% of the world’s population, yet we take 80% of the pain pills in the world.
The New Heroin Epidemic
Ten years ago, prescription painkiller dependence swept rural America. As the government cracked down on doctors and drug companies, people went searching for a cheaper, more accessible high. Now, many areas are struggling with an unprecedented heroin crisis. A full 80% of new heroin addicts today started with prescription drugs.
This jaw dropping epidemic is directly linked to the overprescribing practices of the medical profession. Big Pharma and doctors are responsible for this huge increase in addiction and death. In 2007, Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of Oxycontin was fined $635 million for misleading the public about the risk of addiction.
New government guidelines are telling doctors to prescribe fewer of these addictive drugs and advocating drug rehabilitation programs. These are important steps in the right direction. But what about solutions to the cause of the problem? How do we deal with pain?
How chiropractic adjustments can help
Pain is a signal from the brain that something is wrong. There are many types and causes of pain. There are people who do need opiod drugs. People who are dealing with pain after surgery, from cancer or at the end of life should have whatever they need to be comfortable. I do not think anyone disagrees with that. But many people get relief from pain with chiropractic care, without drugs.
In the 30+ years I have been a chiropractor, I have seen truly amazing results in patients with chronic and acute pain. I will be the first to say that the purpose of chiropractic is NOT to get rid of pain. I am NOT a back pain, neck pain doctor. I am in the business of removing interference to your nervous system so that your body can do the best job possible to repair and heal you. But adjustments do help people with many types of pain. In the process of adjusting the spine to remove interference to the nervous system, amazing things happen. The vertebrae move as they should. This healthy spinal motion stimulates the brain in many ways. It’s like a windmill in supplying energy, allowing the brain to make the chemicals and hormones it needs for you to be healthy and balanced. Studies show that endorphins are created in higher levels immediately after an adjustment. This is why many people immediately say how much better they feel as soon as they get off the table. The adjustment helps joints move better, and that motion helps circulation and healing of cartilage, discs and all the other components of the joints. Adjustments also help the balance of the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic nervous system. Most people are Sympathetic dominant. The Sympathetic nervous system is stimulatory and is activated during fear, anxiety, stress, and when your spine is subluxated. This causes your muscles to be tight, blood flow to be directed to skeletal muscles and heart, and it causes you to have more pain. The Parasympathetic nervous system is healing and calming. It slows the heart rate and dilates blood vessels. When you are in a state of Parasympathetic dominance, you heal and repair better.
Chiropractic is the largest drugless healing profession in the world and has been drugless for its entire 120 years. Because of the physical, mental, and toxic stress load we carry, everyone should be checked regularly for subluxation (misalignment). A recent article from Johns Hopkins states that the average American is under more stress in a month than their grandparents in a lifetime. This correlates with what I see in practice. People are more stressed, and more subluxated. It is so obvious that chiropractic care should be part of a healthy lifestyle. A spine should be maintained from birth to prevent distortion and decay. It’s very similar to dental care. These days, we maintain our teeth from infancy with regular dental care. We do not wait for a toothache to see the dentist. As important as our teeth our, they pale in comparison to a healthy nervous system.
Along with regular chiropractic care, there are other things you can do to deal with pain. Notice I did not say “manage” pain. I believe in getting to the cause of the pain, remove the cause and let the body heal itself.
My next blog will deal with other natural suggestions for dealing with pain. You can take charge of your life and have a huge impact on your health, without drugs and surgery.