If you are not living with chronic pain, I am positive you know someone that is.
Statistically, estimates have previously held that 1 in 5 people live with some type of chronic pain. The problem is becoming more widespread. Currently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that possibly up to 40% of adults in the United States live with chronic pain.
That means that 2 out of every 5 adults in our country experience pain that is not going away, regardless of what they do.
The impact of chronic pain in our country is enormous. Hundreds of billions of dollars are spent in efforts to deal with chronic pain. Countless people have died as a result of opioid addiction and overdose as a result of chronic pain. The constant, unremitting pain can result in severe depression and sometimes even suicide.
Chronic pain is the No. 1 cause of disability. Otherwise, productive people are often unable to earn a living due to ongoing pain.
In our country as well as throughout most of the world, the most common approach to try to address chronic pain is to push medications. For years, many of these medications have been opioids, otherwise known as narcotics. That is because this type of drug can be very effective in providing welcome temporary relief from the pain. Narcotics have been developed that can be extraordinarily effective in completely eliminating any pain – at least for a while.
The danger of narcotics lies in their power to modify the action of your own neurotransmitters. In too many cases, people have died from overdoses of the powerful drugs, either by accident or perhaps by intention.
In addition to the problem of potential for overdose, narcotics work so well they can become addictive very easily and quickly. Opioid drugs prescribed for chronic pain are among the most addictive substances humans come into contact with.
It is ironic that the desired effectiveness of the drugs that are offered for chronic pain is the same reason they are so dangerous.
Due to the incredibly high human cost of using narcotic opioid drugs for pain treatment including overdose deaths and addiction problems federal, state and local authorities are working to reduce our nation’s dependence on the drugs. National physician groups have also launched programs to counsel their member doctors on finding ways to address chronic pain with treatment other than narcotic drugs.
Many physicians now recognize that their patients desperately need effective alternatives to opioid drugs when dealing with chronic pain. The medical Journal of Pain recently published an article promoting the use of acupuncture for chronic pain.
In our office we have received hundreds of patient referrals during the past several decades from local medical physicians for our drug-free treatments, especially acupuncture. The number of referrals we receive has increased significantly in the past few years.
This increase in referrals from local medical doctors for drug-free conservative treatments for chronic pain is due to at least three reasons.
1. The awareness of the problem caused by narcotic prescriptions has increased exponentially in the past decade. As the problem has grown, it has become impossible to ignore. Now everyone in medicine is aware that a narcotic prescription can be a hazardous way to address pain.
2. Many national physical groups and other professional groups have begun to provide guidelines for their member physicians on alternative to narcotics. Among the most frequently recommended alternative treatments for chronic pain is acupuncture. Every physician has now read or heard recommendations to recommend acupuncture for their patients in the place of another prescription for a stronger narcotic. The Food and Drug Administration as well as the American Academy of Family Physicians have published specific recommendations for medical physicians to recommend acupuncture for their chronic pain patients.
3. Patients have begun to share their stories about how they have been able to discontinue the use of narcotic drugs as a result of receiving acupuncture. Every week we see great progress among our patients receiving acupuncture for chronic pain that is sufficient to reduce or often completely eliminate the use of medications.
To many, the most interesting thing is the lasting results of our unique medical acupuncture. We have found that patients may experience ongoing relief from pain for months or possibly years after receiving a series of acupuncture treatments. That is thousands of times longer than the half-life of any drugs on the market.
There is one more reason acupuncture is growing in popularity among local doctors as a possible treatment for chronic pain. Besides being effective much longer than any medication they can prescribe, acupuncture has virtually no drug-like side effects. This alone is a huge benefit.
If you or someone you know is among the 2 out of 5 adults living with chronic back, joint or other pain, acupuncture may be the solution that can help you get your life back.
Dr. Mark Kestner is a licensed chiropractic physician in Murfreesboro. His office is at 1435 NW Broad St. Contact him at mkestner@DrKestner.com.