Sitting and Sleeping Fueling Canada's Pain Crisis: 90 Per Cent Suffer from Daily Pain

Monday, October 16, 2017 General News
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Despite better options for pain management, more than five million turning to opioids and painkillers


Oct. 16, 2017 /CNW/ - Canadians are suffering from daily muscle and joint pain, many turning to potentially harmful painkillers as a first step to treating their discomfort. Though various non-pharmacological options are proven effective in managing
and potentially eliminating pain, too few Canadians are exploring these treatments, citing a host of barriers. Healthcare teams must become more integrated to address these challenges and to help reduce the use of unnecessary medications nationwide.

Released today, All Pain, No Gain: Shining a Light on Canada's Back Pain and Opioid Crisis, a report commissioned by the Canadian Chiropractic Association (CCA) and provincial chiropractic associations for World Spine Day, found that almost 90 per cent of Canadians suffered from muscle or joint pain in the last 12 months. Known as musculoskeletal (MSK) pain for its impact on the body's muscles, bones, joints, tendons and ligaments, the most common types affecting people across the country are low back pain (54 per cent), headaches (50 per cent), knee pain (35 per cent), shoulder pain (34 per cent) and neck pain (34 per cent).

Financial barriers, lack of awareness leave Canadians frustrated, overmedicated and in unnecessary painMSK pain impacts almost all aspects of daily life. With the exception of headaches, roughly half of Canadians experience all types of pain every day or week, with sleeping (57 per cent), lifting heavy items (53 per cent) and sitting (49 per cent) cited as the leading causes.

Understandably, almost 60 per cent are frustrated living with such imposing ailments, and 11 per cent have never sought any kind of professional help. If ignored or treated improperly, pain risks becoming chronic.

As spine, muscle and nervous system experts, chiropractors can help Canadians better manage their MSK pain while also reducing the use of unnecessary painkillers. Nearly all Canadians who have used a chiropractor to help with their muscle and joint pain deemed it helpful (90 per cent), and at least 80 per cent who have used other treatments, such as massage therapy, strength training, yoga/Pilates or physiotherapy, say these methods also provide relief.

However, Canadians are challenged by several hurdles preventing them from pursuing such options, namely financial barriers (29 per cent), as well as issues with private insurance, and a lack of knowledge about/doctors not recommending non-pharmacological options (each 12 per cent).

Despite better options for pain management, more than five million turning to opioids and painkillersUnsure of how to find a real solution, dangerous stop gaps are becoming Canadians' Band-Aid of choice. Almost 80 per cent have taken medication to manage their MSK pain, including turning to opioids (14 per cent) and other prescriptions (13 per cent). Many who take opioids as directed will become dependent, and as many as one in eight Canadians taking an opioid for chronic pain will become addicted. Notably, Canada is the second-highest consumer of prescription opioids in the world, with more than 2,800 opioid-related deaths reported nationwide last year.  

"Though MSK pain is challenging because it's so individualized, Canadians must understand they don't have to rely on opioids; there are a range of safe and effective options to consider," explained Dr. David Peeace, Chair, Canadian Chiropractic Association. "By addressing the barriers with the support of an integrated healthcare team, including chiropractors, Canadians can better manage their pain and decrease the use of opioids and painkillers as the first line of treatment nationwide."

Chiropractors empower Canadians to make better pain management choicesThe report also revealed that 85 per cent of Canadians who paired painkillers with chiropractic care said that  working with a chiropractor reduced their need for medication. In fact, 90 per cent of those who have used a chiropractor to help with their muscle and joint pain believe that it improved their overall quality of life more than other methods.

"People have become accustomed to medicating or simply compensating for their pain, and are unclear about the full range of treatment options available to help improve their everyday life," continued Peeace. "Chiropractors can help evaluate and treat a person's pain using their strong diagnostic skills, and often first prescribe manual therapies or exercises – instead of painkillers – that allow patients to lead active, healthy lives at any age."

Women more likely than men to suffer from, and get help for, headaches, neck, upper back and hip painThe report also uncovered several gender trends, including:

  • Women are more likely than men to experience headaches (55 per cent vs. 44 per cent); neck pain (39 per cent vs. 29 per cent); upper back pain (25 per cent vs. 18 per cent), and hip pain (23 per cent vs. 17 per cent).
  • Women are significantly more likely than men to experience pain due to a heavy backpack or purse (33 per cent vs. 17 per cent).
  • Women are significantly more likely than men to report having sought professional help from a chiropractor within the last 12 months because they've seen one before and are familiar with treatments (45 per cent vs. 28 per cent).

Though they experience the most pain, these trends suggest that women typically seek a more well-rounded approach to health care.

About All Pain, No Gain: Shining a Light on Canada's Back Pain and Opioid CrisisAll Pain, No Gain: Shining a Light on Canada's Back Pain and Opioid Crisis, a survey of 1,505 Canadians aged 18 and over, was completed online between August 14 and August 22, 2017 using Leger's online panel, LegerWeb. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/-2.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20. LegerWeb has approximately 475,000 members nationally – with between 10,000 and 20,000 new members added each month – and has a retention rate of 90 per cent.

About the Canadian Chiropractic AssociationThe Canadian Chiropractic Association (CCA) is a national, voluntary association representing Canada's 8,500 licensed doctors of chiropractic. Approximately 4.5 million Canadians use the services of a chiropractor each year. The CCA advocates on behalf of members and their patients to advance the quality and accessibility of chiropractic care in Canada and to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the healthcare system. For more information on the CCA or for a referral to a doctor of chiropractic, please visit or contact your provincial association.

SOURCE Canadian Chiropractic Association


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