The trend for a “chiropractic first” approach to treating pain just got a huge boost from an influential organization.

Recently, a growing number of experts have argued that the downside of drugs and invasive spinal surgery as methods to combat chronic back pain were potentially so great in certain cases that a proven alternative such as chiropractic care should officially be recognized as a significant option. Now the influential Joint Commission is weighing in.

Following what it called “an extensive literature review,” the not-for-profit organization, which accredits and certifies more than 20,500 health organizations and programs in the U.S., announced that it was revising its “Provision of Care, Treatment, and Services” standard to “affirm” the role of non-pharmacologic approaches, including chiropractic care in pain management.

“In addition,” the commission warned about the use of medications, “organizations should consider both the benefits to the patient, as well as the risks of dependency, addiction and the abuse of opioids.”

Almost 80 percent of Americans are thought to experience back pain at some point in their lives. Past studies have shown that patients who turned to a chiropractor first had consistently better health outcomes and drastically reduced their odds of having to undergo costly surgery.

“As a nation, we are facing an epidemic of prescription drug abuse, and all stakeholders in health care stand to benefit from a conservative approach focusing on chiropractic first, drugs second and surgery last,” said Gerard Clum, D.C., of the not-for-profit Foundation for Chiropractic Progress.