The Chiropractors’ Association of Australia recently published an article detailing the reality of lower back pain, and the responsibility chiropractors around Australia have to the community. At First Choice Chiropractic, we would like to professionally address this article and acknowledge the responsibility that we hold towards our patients and the greater community.
We understand wholeheartedly the dangers of lower back pain and the opioid crisis. We aim to help inform, educate, and guide our community regarding these issues and towards finding the best solutions that work for them.
Lower Back Pain: A Worldwide Epidemic
As stated in the aforementioned article by the CAA, the leading cause of disability around the world is lower back pain. Domestically, lower back pain is the number one factor forcing Australians into early retirement, according to the University of Sydney. This causes greater income disparity and, in some cases, poverty, due to older individuals becoming unable to support themselves.
With more people suffering from lower back pain around the world, more individuals than ever before are in need of a sustainable and reliable solution towards relieving themselves of the pain.
Changing International Guidelines
Unfortunately, research has found that “most pain medicines had little to no effect compared to placebos in treating lower back pain”. Changes in international guidelines to deal with lower back pain have forced doctors and general practitioners to shy away from recommending pain medicines.
Both the American College of Physicians and the UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence are pushing for a worldwide change in attitude as to how doctors treat patients who are diagnosed with lower back pain. As stated by Dr. Adrian Traegar of the University of Sydney, the new guidelines “represent a substantial change” in how we should work towards relieving and managing lower back pain, compared to previous guidelines that have lasted for decades.
The Dangers of Opioids and a Shift Towards Manual Therapies
There is a clear consensus amongst recent research that opioids are ineffective at dealing with lower back pain. In a July 2017 study from the Minneapolis Veterans’ Health Care System, researchers found that opioids were no more effective than paracetamol and ibuprofen at relieving lower back pain. Furthermore, opioids may lead to addiction or overdependence, and in some cases, overdoses.
With less confidence in opioids, there has been a general shift towards alternative means of pain relief, particularly manual therapies such as chiropractic. The Canadian Chiropractic Association released a paper last November 2016 that suggested that manual therapies should be “first-line options for the management of musculoskeletal conditions”, as these therapies offer a “safe, effective, non-invasive, coordinated and cost-effective alternative to opioids“.
The CAA’s Review, and Our Responsibility to the Community
In light of the research over the last few years, the Chiropractors’ Association of Australia (CAA) released a review, to shape the best response that Australian chiropractors can express to solve the issues of lower back pain and opioid inefficiency.
We would like to summarize some of the responsibilities and guidelines listed by the CAA, and state our agreement with the responsibilities that the CAA believes and holds for the communities around us.
Above all else, it is the professional chiropractor’s responsibility to ensure that patients receive the best treatment for their pain, whether this involves manual therapy or not. The professional chiropractor will not make recommendations outside its competency, and that the desired outcome for every patient is to maximize their relief.
Exercising Chiropractic to Its Strengths and Limitations
We are committed to educating and informing our community about spinal health and the benefits of chiropractic, with no intention to mislead or misdirect them from possibly better solutions. The professional chiropractor will never “overstate chiropractic’s role”, and emphasize the multi-faceted nature of musculoskeletal problems.
Relay the Potential Dangers of Opioids
It is not the intention of the professional chiropractor to scare patients away from using medicines or to provide advice on prescription medicines (this is the responsibility between the patient and the prescriber). It is our intention to inform the patient what we know, the research and science proving the dangers of opioids and their misuse, and the possibility of pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical alternatives to opioids.
Our Patient Commitment
At First Choice Chiropractic, we take our profession very seriously. We commit ourselves towards providing the best chiropractic care in accordance with the governing bodies of Australia. We believe that only through this commitment can we provide the best and most objective treatments to our patients.
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