Back and neck pain is extremely common, but can be extremely debilitating. According to the Global Burden of Disease 2010, low back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide. In the US, back pain is the second leading cause of visits to the doctor’s office, and one of the most common reasons for lost work hours. It has been estimated that over 80% of people will experience some kind of back problem at some point in their lives, and the vast majority of those problems will not be caused by any kind of serious condition such as arthritis, fracture, infection, or cancer. In fact, most neck and back pain is caused by mechanical issues and soft tissue injuries.
The key to back and neck pain lies in proper diagnosis and management. Too often, people experiencing this type of pain explain it away as nothing more than a natural side effect of aging, or stress, or work, or any number of causes that serve to dismiss the need to address it directly. However, even though the symptoms might ease on their own, the underlying cause needs to be recognized and managed in order to prevent the pain from returning or worsening over time.
In the 1990’s, the US underwent a huge increase in the use of prescription narcotic pain relievers to manage both acute and chronic pain, to such a degree that it is now referred to as “The Opioid Crisis”. In the latter half of the decade about 1/3 of the US population (around 100 million people) was diagnosed with chronic pain. This led to a huge push by the drug companies and the federal government to expand the use of opioid painkillers such as OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin. With the push in volume, the potency of these medications was also increased, to such a degree that by 2012, 1 in 3 patients were being prescribed medications more powerful than morphine. However, despite the drastic increase in the use of these medications, the overall reporting of pain has remained unchanged during this time. This has led to a dramatic change in policy.
The federal Agency for Health Care Research and Quality recommends that back and neck pain sufferers choose the most conservative care first. In addition, the American College of Physicians (ACP) recently updated its treatment guidelines to recommend a conservative approach to care, citing heat therapy, massage and spinal manipulation (a centerpiece of chiropractic care) as effective alternatives to drug therapy for lowback pain.In addition, the federal government has placed significant restrictions on health care providers’ ability to prescribe opioid pain medications to manage chronic pain. As a result, even though the use of more conservative therapies has seen a significant increase in recent years, management of chronic neck and back pain has become more complex due to the necessity of reducing dependency on habit-forming narcotic medications in patients who have taken these medications for years, sometimes decades. This is where cognitive therapies such as Pain Coping Skills Training become essential, since this type of therapy is proven to reduce not only the patients’ perception of pain, but also their dependence on narcotic pain medication for long-term management.
At Lowcountry Wellness Center, our team of doctors will provide a complete review of your medical history as well as a comprehensive physical assessment in order to give you a treatment plan customized to your specific condition, and give you the best chance for rapid and complete recovery. Call us at (843) 793-1353 to schedule your consultation appointment today!