Pain-killing drugs are associated with dangerous side effects, addiction and overdose. And it turns out they are also much less effective than harmless natural treatments. A new study shows that simple remedies like chiropractic treatments and home exercises relieve sub-acute neck pain better than pharmaceutical drugs - and without all the negative side effects.
Dangerous painkillers can (and should) be avoided
It's estimated that 75 percent of Americans deal with neck pain at some point in their lives. Neck pain accounts for millions of trips to the doctor every year. The pain can be acute and severe enough to interfere with our everyday lives, but modern medicine offers little help. At best, you get over-the-counter pain relievers or narcotic drugs, all of which come with dangerous side effects and are often not effective enough to get rid of pain.
A new study published on January 3, 2012 in The Annals of Internal Medicine demonstrates the power of alternative therapies for neck pain. Participants in the study were divided into three groups: one group made regular visits to the chiropractor, one group received traditional drug therapy, and the third group was instructed on how to perform therapeutic exercises at home to combat their neck pain.
At the end of 12 weeks, it was clear participants who engaged in non-drug therapy fared better than those who received painkillers. In the chiropractic group, 57 percent of individuals reported at least a 75 percent reduction in pain. In the home exercise group, 48 percent reported similar pain relief. However, only 33 percent of the painkiller group saw such results.
The long term benefits are equally impressive. Even one year later, patients in the chiropractic and home exercise groups were still experiencing benefits. About 53 percent in each of these groups still saw at least a 75 percent reduction in pain. In the painkiller group, only 38 percent reported this kind of pain relief.
Besides being less effective, the painkiller group was also increasing their medication over time, which can lead to more serious side effects.
"The people in the medication group kept on using a higher amount of medication more frequently throughout the follow-up period, up to a year later," says Dr. Gert Bronfort, research professor at Northwestern Health Sciences University in Minnesota and an author of the study.
He adds, "If you're taking medication over a long time, then we're running into more systemic side effects like gastrointestinal problems."
It's clear that pharmaceutical drugs are not only dangerous, but ineffective compared to safer natural alternatives for dealing with neck pain.