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Americans' Experiences With Non-Drug Treatments for Pain

Americans' Experiences With Non-Drug Treatments for Pain
by Audris Campbell and Cynthia English

Back pain is one of the most common medical problems in the United States and can affect one's ability to work, socialize, exercise and perform household chores. Nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults have had neck or back pain severe enough that they saw a healthcare professional for care at some point in their lifetime.

In the midst of the opioid-abuse epidemic and Americans' concern about how prescription painkiller abuse affects their local communities, a recent Gallup research brief found most adults in the United States say they prefer to try other ways to manage their pain before taking pain medication prescribed by a doctor.

Many non-drug treatments are available for back-pain sufferers, including spinal manipulation, acupuncture and physical therapy, but little is known about Americans' attitudes and experiences with these treatments. The 2017 Gallup-Palmer College of Chiropractic Annual Report, released today, contains new data on Americans' experience with one of these non-drug treatments: chiropractic care. The report details the prevalence of significant neck and back pain, perceptions of prescription pain management, and the use and costs of chiropractic care.

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Here are some key findings from the report:

  • About one in four adults (27%) saw a healthcare professional for significant neck or back pain in the last 12 months, and more than half of these adults (54%) have had an ongoing problem with neck or back pain for five years or more.

  • Given a choice, 78% of U.S. adults prefer to try other ways to address their physical pain before they take pain medication prescribed by a doctor.

  • Adults in the United States with significant neck or back pain are more likely to say chiropractic care is safer (31%) than prescription pain medication (17%).

  • Americans are slightly more likely to say that chiropractic care is more effective (27%) than prescription pain medication (22%) for patients who have significant neck or back pain.

These results suggest Americans are not only willing to try non-drug alternatives, but they also view at least one of these treatments as more safe and effective than prescription medication. Increased communication between Americans and healthcare professionals about non-drug treatments could make a dent in the opioid-abuse epidemic.

To learn more, read the full 2017 Gallup-Palmer College of Chiropractic Annual Report.

Gallup


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