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Try Chiropractic First: It Just Makes Sense

Try Chiropractic First: It Just Makes Sense

Have a musculoskeletal problem? For quality and improved economic outcomes, research points to the fact that one should see a chiropractor first and within 10 days after the onset of a musculoskeletal pain episode.

In a presentation by David Elton, D.C. of Optum Health, (“Opportunity for DCs in the Evolving Healthcare Delivery System,” Northwestern Health Sciences University, Bloomington MN. February 7, 2013), he presents research about the efficacy of chiropractic care in the evaluation and management of patients with back pain. 

Key takeaways:

  1. Treatment of musculoskeletal conditions is the top category of medical expense.
  2. Spinal problems are the primary driver of musculoskeletal costs.
  3. Spinal manipulation is the ONLY service which, if not provided at any time during a spinal episode, appears to lead to higher total episode costs.
  4. If spinal manipulation is introduced within the first 10 days of back pain, then total episode costs are lower.
  5. If the patient sees a doctor of chiropractic as his/her first provider for treatment of the spinal problem, then this scenario has:

a.  the fewest number of different health care providers for the episode of spinal pain;
b.  lower rate of diagnostic imaging;
c.  fewer injections and prescription medications;
d.  and low total episode cost.

Despite the quality and economic benefits, it is shocking to me that only about 7% of episodes of musculoskeletal spinal problems have a chiropractor involved at any point in the episode. With primary care MDs being squeezed with high numbers of patients and limited time for them in the health care delivery system, it just makes sense to have patients with spinal conditions have early access to chiropractic care.

As consumers who are paying big dollars for your health care premiums, co-pays, and deductibles, I hope that you will ask and demand to see a chiropractor FIRST should you need it for a spinal problem.