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Last week, I wrote about the issues of pain killers and the advantages of chiropractic options. It’s nice to see the recent study of the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) which indicates that many Americans are looking other places than pain killers.

Highlights of the study include:

  • In 2007, 38 million adults made an estimated 354 million visits to CAM practitioners, at an estimated cost of almost $12 billion dollars.
  • Two-thirds of the out-of-pocket spending was for treatments that did not involve a practitioner, such as over-the-counter herbal therapies and other therapies, classes and materials. About $12 billion was spent on visits to practitioners such as chiropractors, acupuncturists, and homeopathic specialists.
  • The biggest single expenditure was for non-vitamin, non-mineral herbal supplements and other products (almost $15 billion) followed by practitioner visits ($12 billion), stretching and meditation-related classes such as yoga, tai chi, and qigong ($4 billion), homeopathic medicines ($2.9 billion) and relaxation techniques ($0.2 billion).

WebMD also noted some interesting findings about a type of injuries that we deal with a lot in the office:

Chronic pain, especially back pain, is by far the biggest reason that people turn to alternative treatments, Briggs said.

She cited previously released data from the 2007 survey showing that of the top 20 conditions for which CAM treatments are used, nine involve chronic pain.

“Americans turn to treatments like acupuncture, chiropractic care, and massage therapy to deal with these painful conditions,” she said, adding that groups like the American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society are on record as endorsing these therapies as useful options for the treatment of chronic back pain.

Briggs said assessing the safety and effectiveness of these and other alternative therapies used to treat chronic pain is a major focus of NCCAM’s research efforts.

“I think everyone would agree that we don’t know as much as we should, and need to know more, about how to manage back pain,” she said.

I see this as very good news. Hopefully, these numbers will be considered as the health insurance debate continues. People need to have options and deadly painkillers aren’t the answer.


  1. Gravatar for Daniel 8791

    Sometimes people have conditions that don't respond very much to pain killers. Some of their pain is handled by the drugs, but not all of it because of the nature of the injury or condition. This is where these alternatives need to be brought in if at all possible. Help from other avenues rather than kidney clogging pain killers is very important in the long term well being of persons with these needs.

  2. Gravatar for Mike Bryant

    We hear more and more about how dangerous these pills are, thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

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