New Zealanders could reduce their use of pain relief medication by purchasing a new bed and taking better care of their spinal health, the country’s chiropractors advised today.
The New Zealand Chiropractors’ Association (NZCA) says mounting research from around the world, including New Zealand, shows that poor quality sleep and spinal issues can lead to chronic pain and other conditions.
Dr Hayden Thomas, chiropractor and spokesperson for the NZCA explains: 'Not only can a bad bed worsen your spinal health, the poor quality sleep you get from lying on a bad bed makes you feel any existing pain much more intensely. What can happen is that people rely more and more on painkillers instead of addressing their spine. One of the things a chiropractor will do when a patient presents with chronic pain is look at what is happening with the spine and discuss sleeping habits and conditions.’
A report on Sleep and Chronic Pain just published by the American Academy of Pain Medicine shows that sleep deprivation increases pain perception, saying ‘These findings highlight the importance of addressing sleep disturbance in patients presenting with pain symptoms.’
Dr Thomas points out: 'With new research highlighting more risks associated with the increased use of opioids for pain, chiropractic associations around the world are urging patients and healthcare providers to consider first exhausting conservative forms of management such as chiropractic care and improved sleeping conditions.’
According to a recent report published in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons the increased use of opioid painkillers has led to unanticipated consequences such as a developed tolerance amongst some patients to the drugs and poor treatment outcomes for conditions such as work-related neuromusculoskeletal disorders, joint replacements and spinal surgery.
Dr Thomas notes: 'These drugs numb the pain and may convince a patient that a neuromusculoskeletal condition is less severe than it is, or that it has healed. So instead of seeking advice on the causes of their condition from their healthcare professional, they may over-exert the affected region and delay the healing process or even cause more extensive or permanent injury.’
‘We should start by looking at all the other options first. Can we improve the patients’ sleep? New British research shows that more than half of us (55%) wait until our bed loses all firmness before changing it, more than one in ten (11%) adults have never replaced their mattress at all, and 16 per cent wait until they experience aches and pains before doing so. A visit to your local chiropractor for care and advice is the first step towards getting a good night’s sleep, conservatively managing pain and improving spinal function.’
Health care quality organisations now recognise the value of a conservative approach. Earlier this year, the US Joint Commission, which certifies more than 20,000 health care organisations and programmes in the United States including every major hospital, revised its pain management standard to include chiropractic care and acupuncture. Clinical experts in pain management who provide input to the Commission’s standards affirmed that treatment strategies might consider both pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic approaches.
 T.R Deer et al. (eds), Treatment of Chronic Pain by Integrative Approaches: the AMERICAN ACADEMY of PAIN MEDICINE Textbook on Patient Management, DOI 10.1007/978-1-4939-1821-8_16