Chronic pain is a significant public-health issue – and it's only getting worse. Fortunately, more people are turning to conservative, nonpharmaceuctical care over opioids; with chiropractic one of the most frequently utilized nondrug choices.
"Trends in the Use of Opioids vs Nonpharmacologic Treatments in Adults With Pain, 2011-2019," published in JAMA Network Open, reveals all this and more.
Utilization: Nondrug Care Tops Opioid Use
"Exclusive opioid use for chronic pain significantly decreased from 2014 (14.43%; 95% CI, 12.95%-16.01%) to 2017 (10.57%; 95% CI, 9.56%-11.63%), while nonpharmacologic treatments significantly increased from 2014 (18.50%; 95% CI, 16.64%-20.47%) to 2017 (22.50%; 95% CI, 20.78%-24.29%). By 2019, any opioid use decreased to 15.52% (95% CI, 13.99%-17.14%), while any nonpharmacologic use increased to 43.84% (95% CI, 41.44%-46.27%)."
In fact, nonpharmacologic treatment surpassed opioid treatment among adults with chronic, nonsurgical pain.
People Increasingly Turn to Chiropractic
"The most prevalent nonpharmacologic clinicians were chiropractors and physical therapists. [Per previous research,] chiropractic care increased from 6.9% in 1990 to 8.4% in 2012. Our study shows that use of chiropractic care continued increasing through 2019 (chronic pain, 25.6%; surgical pain, 8.9%)."
Chiropractic and physical therapy use for chronic pain surpassed overall opioid use during the study period.
Important Policy Takeaways for Health Care and Insurance
"Our study holds broad clinical and policy relevance, including expanding the reimbursement for nonpharmacologic health care professionals and equalizing direct access – without a physician referral – [our emphasis] between these professionals in some circumstances. Administrators and health care professionals may benefit from education on the effective non-pharmacologic treatments and which licensed professionals can be consulted to deliver such treatments."
Dynamic Chiropractic editorial staff members research, investigate and write articles for the publication on an ongoing basis. To contact the Editorial Department or submit an article of your own for consideration, email