September is Drug Free Pain Management Awareness Month

September 2022 is designated Drug-Free Pain Management Awareness Month, an opportunity to raise awareness of safe solutions before opioids for neuromusculoskeletal pain. Sponsored by the Tennessee Chiropractic Association (TCA) and in collaboration with the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress (F4CP), this month of observances will educate and inform employers, managed care organizations, state legislators and members of our communities.

“Drug addiction often begins with opioid prescriptions for pain,” says TCA Executive Director Tiffany Stevens. “In fact, we are losing 128 people a day from opioid overdoses. Pain management should begin with chiropractic care as a first-line option to reduce pain and increase function for individuals who are suffering.”

In light of the harrowing statistics like those below, the TCA is launching this campaign with the full support of our members statewide:

  • 80% of heroin users reported using prescription opioids prior to heroin.
  • While the rate of opioid prescriptions for pain filled by TN residents was lower in 2020 compared to 2019 across all counties, 40 of the 95 counties have a rate above 1,000 prescriptions per 1,000 residents
  • Tennessee Department of Health’s State Unintentional Drug Overdose Reporting System (SUDORS) reports accidental or undetermined drug overdose deaths increased 48% from 2019 to 2020.

Chiropractic care has been demonstrated to effectively manage physical pain while positively contributing to mental health. Symptoms of depression, for example, such as high cortisol, high adrenalin, insomnia, agitation and anxiety, can be attributed to over-activation of the sympathetic nervous system. After reviewing studies, researchers in 2020 determined that spinal manipulation, also known as a chiropractic adjustment, activates the parasympathetic system to counterbalance the activity of the sympathetic system and thus reduce depression symptoms. 94% of spinal manipulations in the U.S. are performed by a doctor of chiropractic. Stimulating the parasympathetic system is also considered an effective therapy for major depression as it releases neurotrophins essential for antidepressive therapies, including brain-derived neurotrophic factor and nerve growth factor, according to researchers.

In addition, patients who pursue chiropractic care first to manage their pain often use conservative, cost-effective approaches. In the journal, Spine, this year, researchers showed that Medicare beneficiaries with chronic low back pain who chose spinal manipulation first were 2.5-times less likely to increase their healthcare utilization – such as hospitalizations and surgery – as compared to those who received opioids.

Given these outcomes, the TCA urges doctors of chiropractic (DCs) to serve their communities by sharing educational resources and to build greater chiropractic awareness at the grassroots level.

“Choosing natural, drug-free care to manage pain benefits every healthcare stakeholder, but none more than patients,” said Dr. Sherry McAllister, DC, president of the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress. “For this reason and many others, we call on our doctors to urge government officials, health insurers and employers to explore opportunities to expand access to chiropractic and other evidence-based, non-pharmacologic care, not only in September, but in every month, every year.”

Click here to view a brief video on why chiropractic care can be a part of the solution to the opioid epidemic.

The Drug-Free Pain Management Awareness Month observance will be included annually in the American Hospital Association official health care observance calendar.

About the Tennessee Chiropractic Association
The TCA is a dynamic advocate for chiropractic – driven to support all of Tennessee’s licensed physicians, their practices, and the patients they represent.  As an association, the TCA works toward equal recognition and participation for chiropractic in government health care programs, in private insurance plans, and in all other health care arenas which impact the delivery of health care to the people of Tennessee.


TCA Members may login to for 2022 campaign resources to help spread awareness in their practices and communities.