Study: Starting with Chiropractic Saves 40% on Low Back Pain Care

piggy-bank-1056615_1920A new study finds that low back pain care initiated with a doctor of chiropractic (DC) saves 40 percent on health care costs when compared with care initiated through a medical doctor (MD), the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) announced today. The study, featuring data from 85,000 Blue Cross Blue Shield beneficiaries, concludes that insurance companies that restrict access to chiropractic care for low back pain treatment may inadvertently pay more for care than they would if they removed such restrictions. Low back pain is a significant public health problem. Up to 85 percent of Americans have back pain at some point in their lives. In addition to its negative effects on employee productivity, back pain treatment accounts for about $50 billion annually in health care costs—making it one of the top 10 most costly conditions treated in the United States. The study, “Cost of Care for Common Back Pain Conditions Initiated With Chiropractic Doctor vs. Medical Doctor/Doctor of Osteopathy as First Physician: Experience of One Tennessee-Based General Health Insurer,” which is available online and will also be published in the December 2010 issue of the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, looked at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee’s intermediate and large group fully insured population over a two-year span. The insured study population had open access to MDs and DCs through self-referral, and there were no limits applied to the number of MD/DC visits allowed and no differences in co-pays. Results show that paid costs for episodes of care initiated by a DC were almost 40 percent less than care initiated through an MD. After risk-adjusting each patient’s costs, researchers still found significant savings in the chiropractic group. They estimated that allowing DC-initiated episodes of care would have led to an annual cost savings of $2.3 million for BCBS of Tennessee. “As doctors of chiropractic, we know firsthand that our care often helps patients avoid or reduce more costly interventions such as drugs and surgery. This study supports what we see in our practices every day,” said ACA President Rick McMichael, DC. “It also demonstrates the value of chiropractic care at a critical time, when our nation is attempting to reform its health care system and contain runaway costs.”

Author: American Chiropractic Association
Source: American Chiropractic Association. November 16, 2010.
Copyright: American Chiropractic Association 2010

Chiropractic Care First, Surgery Second for Sciatica

figure-1707104_1920A new study comparing chiropractic spinal manipulation versus microdiskectomy in patients with sciatica (pain running down the leg) as a result of lower back disk herniation was published recently indicating the effectiveness of chiropractic care. Patients included in this study had already failed to respond positively to at least 3 months of non-operative management including treatment with analgesics, lifestyle modification, physiotherapy, massage therapy, and/or acupuncture. Patients were randomly assigned to either the chiropractic spinal manipulation group (the most common specialized procedure used by doctors of chiropractic) or the microdiskectomy group where patients received microdiskectomy surgery. The results indicated that 60 percent of patients with sciatica (NOTE: they had already failed other medical management) benefited from spinal manipulation to the same degree as if they underwent surgical intervention. Thus, it makes sense for those suffering from lower back (lumbar) disk herniation even with sciatica to strongly consider chiropractic care even if other forms of care have been unsuccessful – at least prior to going under the knife, so to speak.

Author: ChiroPlanet.com
Source: JMPT Volume 33, Issue 8, Pages 576-584 (October 2010).
Copyright: ProfessionalPlanets.com LLC 2010

Gain The Weight, Gain The Spinal Pain

belly-2473_1920A recent Norway study indicates that in both men and women obesity is strongly associated with chronic low back pain. The increased weight of being obese wreaks havoc on the spinal tissues that are placed under constant and increased stress due to the additional weight. Fortunately, most obesity is treatable and with loss of the additional weight, many experience significant improvements in their back pain complaints, not to mention the improvement or reversal of many other related health conditions. Fortunately, chiropractic care can still help before the additional weight comes off, or, if the additional weight cannot be lost. Chiropractors not only provide relief for many experiencing back pain due to obesity, but some additionally offer treatment programs directed at weight loss and strategies to improve one’s overall health. If you’ve got extra pounds to lose and are suffering from back problems, you deserve an opportunity to try chiropractic care!

Author: ChiroPlanet.com
Source: Spine. Volume 35. Issue 7.
Copyright: ProfessionalPlanets.com LLC 2010

Spinal Surgery Costs Surge

progress-1807543_1920Older patients with lower back pain are increasingly getting more complex and costlier spinal fusion surgeries, resulting in higher rates of life-threatening complications and increasing costs for the healthcare system, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday. A study of records from the federal Medicare program for the elderly and disabled between 2002 and 2007 revealed a 15-fold increase in the rate of complex surgeries to treat spinal stenosis — a common condition in the elderly in which the spinal canal narrows, causing pain in the back and legs. And while the number of overall procedures to treat this problem dipped during the period, hospital charges for those surgeries rose by 40 percent on an inflation-adjusted basis, Dr. Richard Deyo of the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland and his colleagues reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association. In a telephone interview Deyo said the trend in part is related to the introduction of new technology, such as spinal cages and special screws used to fuse vertebrae together. But it also reflects savvy marketing by orthopedic device makers such as Stryker Corp., Medtronic Inc. and Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy unit, that has convinced surgeons more complex surgery is better, Deyo said. Studies, however, suggest complex spinal fusion surgeries offer little benefit over simpler procedures for most patients, and increase the risk of complications. “It is driving up the cost of care without much evidence that it is improving care,” Deyo said. A study last year published in JAMA found that the cost of treating spine problems in the United States rose 65 percent in the past decade to $85.9 billion a year, rivaling the economic burden of treating cancer, which costs $89 billion. Yet, for all of the spending, they found people with spine problems actually felt worse. Deyo’s team studied three specific surgical procedures for lumbar stenosis: decompression, in which part of the vertebrae is removed to ease pressure on nerve roots; simple fusion, in which one or two discs are fused together through an incision in the back or abdomen; and complex fusion, in which more than 3 vertebrae are treated or the surgery is done from both the back and front. Overall, the procedure rate fell 1.4 percent during the study period, but rates of complex fusion surgery increased from 1.3 per 100,000 patients to 19.9 per 100,000. “What happened was the most complex type of surgery increased 15-fold over that period of time, a far more rapid increase than we could explain just on the basis of more severe disease,” Deyo said. “What we also found is these more complex operations are associated with a higher rate of serious complications.” Patients in the study who had a complex fusion procedure had a nearly three times higher odds of a life-threatening complication compared with those who only got decompression. And overall hospital charges rose 40 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars, the team found. Dr. Eugene Carragee of the Stanford University School of Medicine in California said in a commentary that the study should remind patients, doctors and insurance companies to carefully weigh the options for spinal surgery. “… the efficacy of basic spinal techniques must be assessed carefully against the plethora of unproven but financially attractive alternatives,” Carragee wrote, noting that “financial incentives and market forces do not favor this careful assessment before technologies are widely adopted.”

Author: Julie Steenhuysen
Source: Reuters Health. April 7, 2010.
Copyright: Reuters 2010

College Students At Risk For Back Pain

chairs-1814602_1920A recent survey involving 963 college students indicates the college lifestyle is strongly associated with back pain. Of those surveyed, 38 percent or almost 4 in 10 students reported having suffered from back pain within the previous school year. Interestingly, the strongest associations with back pain in college students were the students either feeling chronically fatigued or being in an emotionally abusive relationship. Thus, survey findings indicated psychosocial factors were highly associated with a student’s likelihood of suffering from back pain.

Author: ChiroPlanet.com
Source: JMPT. Vol 33, Issue 2. February 2010.
Copyright: ProfessionalPlanets.com LLC 2010

Puffing Your Way To Low Back Pain

cigarettes-83571_1920With low back pain affecting 8 in 10 adults, Finnish researchers recently set out to examine existing research and determine if smoking really was associated with an increase in low back pain. The researchers reviewed more than 80 studies from around the world conducted between 1966 and 2009. While they were unable to clearly say that smoking leads to low back pain, they did find that smokers are at a 31 percent increased risk for low back pain as compared with nonsmokers. The strongest association with smoking was with those suffering from chronic and disabling low back pain. Additionally, researchers found that adolescent smokers were more vulnerable to the effects of smoking than were adults. If you’re a smoker, both we and your back urge you to quit now!

Author: ChiroPlanet.com
Source: The American Journal of Medicine, January 2010.
Copyright: ProfessionalPlanets.com LLC 2010

Is Your Back Pain Becoming A Pain?

adult-1868292_1920If you’ve ever experienced back pain, and who really hasn’t, you’ll understand the following excerpt from a recent article published in the July/August 2009 AARP Health Newsletter (AARP.org):

“The first time I thought it was a quirk. The second time I thought it was a coincidence. The third time I would have sat up and taken notice – but I couldn’t sit up. And the fourth time my back went out – leaving me supine for a week, except for when I crawled to the bathroom – I was forced to take action… Despite the pervasiveness of the problem, there are few clear guidelines on how to properly diagnose and treat low back pain, leaving sufferers like me to try one therapy after another. Thankfully that disjointed approach is starting to change, as a slew of new research sheds light on what works and what doesn’t. I’ve consolidated that research here – and consulted half a dozen experts in low back pain – to help you ease your agonizing aches.”

In this article, the author provides a brief description of his personal incident of back pain as well as recommended treatments based on the most current and sound research available. In describing certain treatments for back pain, which he states “really be called spine pain because that complex of bones is the center beam of the system that holds us erect,” he comments on his finding for chiropractic care:

“Chiropractic – To clarify a common misunderstanding: chiropractors don’t ‘crack your back.’ That popping sound is a gas bubble being released from between two joints that have been coaxed into alignment. A study published in 2002 found that patients with low back pain treated by chiropractors showed greater improvement after one month than those treated by physicians.”

While there are several studies showing overwhelming evidence of chiropractic’s benefits for those suffering from back and spinal problems, we thought we’d share one back pain sufferer’s findings and recommendations. If you or others are suffering from back, neck and/or spinal problems, contact our office today for a safe, comprehensive evaluation.

Author: ChiroPlanet.com
Source: AARP Health Newsletter (AARP.org); July & August 2009.
Copyright: ProfessionalPlanets.com LLC 2009

Smoking Reduces Mobility In Upper Spine

cigarette-599485_1920A recent study published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine has found the motion between vertebrae of the upper spine area (thoracic spine) in smokers is significantly reduced as compared to that of non-smokers. Smooth full range of motion between the vertebrae that make up the spine is essential not only for optimal trunk movement, but also for providing nourishment to the joints of spine. As the spinal vertebrae lose their natural full range of motion and thus their nutrition, spinal motion decreases and stiffness and spinal degeneration increases. Smoking also reduces the amount of oxygen the tissues of the body receive including those tissues of the spine. In effect, those who smoke are at even greater risk for spinal abnormalities, degeneration, stiffness, loss of motion and ultimately pain. If you or someone you know is suffering from back and/or neck (spinal) problems, especially if they smoke, have them call our offices today. Chiropractors are highly trained in conditions of the spine as well as conditions that affect the spine.

Author: ChiroPlanet.com
Source: Journal of Chiropractic Medicine. Volume 8, Issue 2, Pages 51-55.
Copyright: ProfessionalPlanets.com LLC 2009

Common Spine Surgery As Effective As No Surgery At All

surgery-1822458_1920Close to 40,000 costly spinal surgeries referred to as vertebroplasty are performed each year in the United States. However, shocking new research may change that number. Published in the prestigious The New England Journal of Medicine, a new study indicates that vertebroplasty is as effective as performing a fake surgery. Vertebroplasty is a surgical procedure where the surgeon injects a cement-like substance into a fractured vertebrae for the purpose of providing vertebral strength and reducing the associated pain. According to Rachelle Buchbinder of Monash University in Malvern, Australia, whose group found that 36 volunteers who received sham surgery did just as well as 35 who got the real operation, “We had hoped this treatment might get the pain better quicker, but we couldn’t demonstrate that… I don’t think there’s any place for vertebroplasty at the moment.” According to Dr. James Weinstein of Dartmouth Medical School in New Hampshire, “The results may change vertebroplasty from a procedure that is virtually always considered to be successful to one that is considered no better than placebo.” While it is not our intent to bash the medical profession, we feel the findings of this study and the comments of the physicians involved with this study are extremely newsworthy and should be made available to anyone considering spinal surgery.

Author: ChiroPlanet.com
Source: The New England Journal of Medicine. Vol. 361; No. 6. & Reuters. August 6, 2009.
Copyright: ProfessionalPlanets.com LLC 2009

Chiropractic Spinal Manipulation Effective In The Elderly As Well

human-skeleton-163715_1280Although chiropractic care has helped countless millions of patients of all ages, research studies have been primarily focused on those under the age of 55 years of age. In a new study, researchers evaluated the success of chiropractic care versus conservative medical care on 240 adults with an average age of 63 years who were suffering from subacute and chronic low back pain. Results of six weeks of either chiropractic care or minimal conservative medical care were compared via study participant completed disability-related questionnaires (measuring each participants overall function) at 3, 6, 12 and 24 weeks. Researchers found those receiving chiropractic care had significant improvements in their functional status as compared with those receiving medical care. Researchers also found that no serious adverse events were associated with chiropractic care. For those elderly adults who were under the impression that safe, natural and effective chiropractic care was only for infants, children and younger adults, we hope this clears up any misconceptions. If you or another maturing individual are suffering from health problems or would like to be professionally evaluated by a doctor of chiropractic, please don’t continue to wait – take that first important step by calling our offices today!

Author: ChiroPlanet.com
Source: JMPT. Volume 32, Issue 5, Pages 330-343 (June 2009).