Chiropractic is Cost-Effective in Treating Chronic Pain

By Dr. Dan Van Roon • August 24th, 2009

The above is a direct quote from a headline that appeared in of all places, the November 17, 2007 Medical News Today. The article, also picked up by UPI news and several other sources, was reporting on a new study published in the October issue of the scientific journal, The Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (JMPT).

In this study 2780 patients with mechanical low-back pain referred themselves to 60 doctors of chiropractic and 111 medical doctors. These cases were reviewed for effectiveness of care and for costs. One of the articles noted that back pain care in the United States alone is estimated to reach $48 billion this year, and, at any given time, 80 percent of the U.S. population suffers from back pain.

The results of the study showed several interesting facts. With regards to the outcomes, the study showed that both the acute and chronic patients showed better outcomes in pain and disability reduction and higher satisfaction with their care after undergoing chiropractic care, as compared to medical care.

The costs of the care for the medical and chiropractic showed different results depending on the usage. Without adding the costs of any over-the-counter drugs, hospitalization, or surgical costs, when you simply compared the costs of in-office chiropractic to in-office medical care, the chiropractic care was slightly more expensive. If you then add in the additional costs for any referrals made by the chiropractor or the medical doctor, the chiropractic care costs for chronic patients were then 16 percent lower than medical care costs.

The authors of the study, noting that the satisfaction for the chiropractic care was higher, and the overall total costs were lower, made a concluding statement urging more chiropractic utilization in the health care system. They stated, “With their mission to increase value and respond to patient preferences, health care organizations and policy makers need to reevaluate the appropriateness of chiropractic as a treatment option for low-back pain.”

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