Though chiropractic has been around for more than a 100 years, is proven effective for the treatment of back pain that nearly 80% of people will encounter in their lifetime, it is still only utilized by 12-17% of that population. This fact alone seems staggering but when you consider that it is far safer option than even taking simple over the counter medications the story becomes even more bewildering.
According to a national survey back pain is the most prevalent chronic medical problem and accounts for and estimated $50 billion to $100 billion in annual US healthcare costs. With the baby boomer population aging, this probably can be expected to escalate. Now more than ever the healthcare community needs to focus on using the most effective and affordable means of solving the communities health problems in a strait forward and logical manor.
Chiropractic is Woefully Underutilized
Chiropractic is the 3rd largest healthcare industry, a distant 3rd. The public perception is that we are spine specialists, yet we are seldom recommended as a treatment option in any type of medical literature. Chiropractic care has a long history of research supporting its effectiveness and affordability. It is even recognized and included in the department of defense as basic care. All this and less than 20% of the population in need finds their way through the chiropractic doors. And often this is not until they have failed with another care method.
It would seem that there must be some reason for the underutilization of this valuable and effective service and there is– Chiropractors.
Only recently has chiropractic as a whole tried to integrate with mainstream medicine. We have battled and raged and tried to stand out all through the last century. All the while giving us the reputation as a maverick sort with a huckster vibe promising to cure what ails ya with a quick twist of the neck. There are still hold outs but the vast majority of those educated in last 10-15 years have been schooled in an evidence based approach to treating headache neck and back pain. Make no mistake, this is the present and future of chiropractic care. Reliable realistic evidence based care the is part of the overall medical community.
Chiropractors are Portal of Entry Providers Not Primary Care Providers.
This means that people have direct access to these services similar to dentists and optometrists and don’t need to be approached through the medical doctor or some other referral source. The flip side of this is that chiropractors are not primary care providers in that the research at this time reports that they are effective for musculoskeletal conditions like headaches neck and back pain. While they are well educated in nutrition and general health, they are first and fore most musculoskeletal specialists. See the chiropractor for your back low back and sciatica, not for your asthma or diabetes.
These are some strong points of Chiropractic.
· Chiropractors are the spinal health experts in the healthcare system.
· Chiropractic has the ability to improve function in the neuromusculoskeletal system, and overall
health, well-being, and quality of life.
·Chiropractic is a specialized approach to examination, diagnosis, and treatment based on best available research and clinical evidence, and with particular emphasis on the relationship between the spine and the nervous system.
· Chiropractic has a tradition of effectiveness and patient satisfaction.
·Chiropractic is conservative, clinical, safe treatment approach without the use of drugs and surgery, enabling patients to avoid these when possible.
· Chiropractic has proven cost-effective in the managed care, workers compensation and Medicare markets.
· Chiropractors are expertly qualified providers of spinal adjustment, manipulation and other manual treatments, exercise instruction, and patient education.
· Chiropractors collaborate with other health professionals.
· Chiropractic is patient treatment approach focusing on individual responsibility for health, encouraging patient independence.
· Chiropractors are expert, professional, ethical, knowledgeable, and compassionate healthcare providers.
How to Best Utilize Chiropractic
Most research on chiropractic’s effectiveness has been done on acute and chronic lower back pain, acute and chronic neck pain, and headaches. These three conditions make up make up 95% of the conditions for which patients seek chiropractic care. These are also the best reasons to visit your chiropractor.
Headaches neck and back pain is where chiropractic shines and that is where it’s utilization should be. Chiropractic is a great entry level therapy for these patients. Chiropractors are well versed in non-invasive treatment that has the lower risk for harming the patient and the best chance or improvement than any other option of care. Chiropractic is also the most cost effective method of care because the evaluation of back pain is the same as at the Primary care office but fees are lower.
Failure to improve on a chiropractic trial of evidence based manipulation is not common. For those who do not progress they can be referred out for more invasive investigation confident that their current condition will not respond to manual manipulation. All this adds up to better cheaper care with the best chance for a positive outcome for the patient.
Unfortunately this is often the exact opposite route that patients follow arrive at the chiropractor. They most often find the chiropractic after passing through surgeries or several other failed procedures and therapies. Thus taking what may have been a simple acute injury that would have responded well to conservative care a more complicated and resistant problem may have gone on too long for chiropractic to be of help.
The base thing to take away from this article is that chiropractic is not an end all be all of back pain care that holds all the answers. It is just a research proven best place to start to logically find a way out of pain. Properly utilized it is a valuable tool in the physicians workshop, but a hammer can’t drive a nail if you don’t pick it up.
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