Survey: Chronic Back Pain Sufferers Prefer Drug Free Pain Management

ARLINGTON, Va. -- More than 80 percent of chronic back pain sufferers surveyed would prefer to avoid the use of medication to treat their ailments, yet ironically, a majority are taking either narcotics, muscle relaxants or over-the-counter medications to deal with their pain, according to a study conducted for the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) by a national market research firm. In addition, more than 64 percent of survey respondents reported that they would consider seeking the professional health care services of a doctor of chiropractic (DC), health care providers who offer a drugless approach to pain relief. The omnibus survey, conducted in the spring of 2004 for ACA by I/H/R Research Group, a full service market research firm that includes experienced health care managers, interviewed 800 adults nationwide. The survey was conducted to gain insight into the treatment methods used by those with chronic back pain and to better understand the amount of relief experienced from various treatment options. Survey results did indicate that while millions of Americans trust their health care to one of the nation's 60,000 doctors of chiropractic, only 13.8 percent of respondents were currently seeking health care from a DC. However, when survey participants were asked if they felt their pain was under control as a result of their current treatment, 30 percent indicated their pain was not, and an additional 39.3 percent said their pain was only moderately under control. Furthermore, more than 27 percent of respondents reported that they were taking a form of analgesic or narcotic for their chronic back pain; 25 percent indicated they relied on over-the-counter medications; and 19.6 percent used muscle relaxants. "The survey results reiterate that chiropractic care offers the treatment options desired by patients -- compassionate health care that works safely without drugs or surgery," said American Chiropractic Association (ACA) President Donald J. Krippendorf, DC. "However, the information provided also shows that more needs to be done to educate patients, physicians and the health community about the benefits of chiropractic care and its ability to manage pain effectively." Other survey highlights include: * 18 percent of all chronic back pain was reported as the result of an accident or injury * Almost 40 percent reported their pain as very severe or severe at the time of the survey * 71 percent of respondents said they had suffered from chronic back pain for five or more years Eighty percent of Americans suffer from back pain at some point in their lives, and back pain is the second most common reason for visits to the doctor's office, outnumbered only by upper-respiratory infections. "Given the physical and mental demands of the fast-paced, active lifestyles that many Americans lead, it is essential that we keep ourselves in good physical condition without overusing medications that can negatively affect our health. Some medications can induce drowsiness and impair judgment," Dr. Krippendorf said. "You can achieve an improved level of medication-free wellness with the help of your doctor of chiropractic." Recent evidence supporting the efficacy of chiropractic care comes from a study published in the July 15, 2003, edition of the journal Spine, which found that manual manipulation -- the primary form of treatment performed by doctors of chiropractic -- provides better relief of chronic spinal pain than does acupuncture or even a variety of medications. Additional research The ACA offers the following tips for choosing a doctor of chiropractic. * Be sure the chiropractor has attended an accredited chiropractic college. A list can be found on ACA's Web site: * Be sure the chiropractor is licensed to practice in your state. After graduating from an accredited chiropractic college, chiropractors must pass rigorous state and national board exams before they can practice. * The chiropractor should be willing to answer your questions and should talk freely with you about your concerns and your course of treatment. * Talk to your friends, family and co-workers. The best referrals often come from satisfied patients.

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