Back Pain & Opioid Study

Before I jump into analyzing the study about Opioid effectivity for back pain I want to share 3 facts about back pain to bring attention to how important treating this ailment effectively is.


• Low back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide, according to the Global Burden of Disease 2010.

• Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work.  In fact, back pain is the second most common reason for visits to the doctor’s office, outnumbered only by upper-respiratory infections.

• One-half of all working Americans admit to having back pain symptoms each year.


Most cases of back pain are mechanical or non-organic—meaning they are not caused by serious conditions, such as inflammatory arthritis, infection, fracture or cancer.

Patients suffering from chronic low back pain are often prescribed opioids for pain relief, but a recent review of studies has found opioid based medication generally ineffective.

Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), combined data from 20 randomized controlled trials that included 7,295 participants. Most of these studies were funded by pharmaceutical companies and tested several narcotics.

The drugs slightly relieved pain and improved disability but were not effective enough to be clinically significant. The studies used a 100-point scale, the magnitude of relief did not reach the 20-point level that researchers determine as clinically effective.

According to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), a new study published in JAMA adds to an expanding body of research backing the use of spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) as the leading treatment for acute low back pain. Researchers determined that spinal manipulation was in correlation with statistically significant improvements in pain and function for up to six weeks with no serious adverse side effects.

This is great news, not only for chiropractors, but for America. Our Country has been in an opioid crisis and moving towards more effective, drug-free treatments for common ailments will undoubtedly help our future. I’ll leave you with 3 facts concerning opioid abuse quoted directly from


• About 80 percent of people who use heroin first misused prescription opioids.

• Opioid overdoses increased 30 percent from July 2016 through September 2017 in 52 areas in 45 states.

• Opioid overdoses in large cities increased from 2016-2017 by 54 percent in 16 states.

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