A review on the use chiropractic, acupuncture, biofeedback and other alternative pain treatments at military treatment facilities (MTF) in the U.S. was recently released. These non-drug treatments, known as “Complementary and Alternative Medicine” (CAM), have been made increasingly available to military personnel over the last decade.
The surveyed facilities showed more than half of the 110 treatment sites that offered CAM services included chiropractic care. Chiropractic was the most used service at 14,000 visits per month, which is double the combined use of acupuncture, massage, biofeedback, hypnosis, etc. Back pain and other chronic pain were the most common reasons personnel sought chiropractic help, and these patients were more likely to stick with their care.
Over half of the chiropractic group showed reductions in medication use, and almost two-thirds of these medical facilities reported this care improves patient satisfaction and quality of life. Other findings reported by the treatment facilities included improved functional status, better work performance, and improved sleep with chiropractic care.
With the well-known opioid crisis continuing to escalate (now killing over 140 Americans daily), it is vital to understand the benefits and safety of these non-drug methods for pain reduction. Happily, the VA is ahead of the game in this area, and a few vets in pain management programs have been referred to my clinic for acupuncture treatment.
The American College of Physicians (and even the AMA, which lost a restraint of trade lawsuit to four chiropractors in 1987) is now listing chiropractic as one of the advised “non-pharmaceutical” treatments for pain.