Do Chiropractors Cause Disc Herniations & Family Doctors Still Don’t Get It

CF 178: Do Chiropractors Cause Disc Herniations & Family Doctors Still Don’t Get It

Today we’re going to talk about if chiropractors cause lumbar disc herniations and how primary doctors still don’t understand guidelines that are 4 years old at this point.

But first, here’s that sweet sweet bumper music

OK, we are back and you have found the Chiropractic Forward Podcast where we are making evidence-based chiropractic fun, profitable, and accessible while we make you and your patients better all the way around.

We’re the fun kind of research. Not the stuffy, high-brow kind of research. We’re research talk over a couple of beers.

I’m Dr. Jeff Williams and I’m your host for the Chiropractic Forward podcast.

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You have found yourself smack dab in the middle of Episode #178

Now if you missed last week’s episode, we talked about spinal manipulative therapy effectiveness and chiropractic for colic. Make sure you don’t miss that info. Keep up with the class.

On the personal end of things…..
It’s dragging. Don’t think for a second that you’re going to set up a medical entity in just a week or so. Lol. Goodness gracious. I went through my orthopedic diplomate in 6 months for a reason. It’s not because I’m smarter than anyone else or that I have more extra time than anyone else. Far from it.
I went through it so quickly because I hate stuff just lingering out in the ether unfinished or waiting or on hold or whatever. It drives me crazy to have unfinished ideas or projects. Literally crazy.
So, this new growth thing is making me crazy because it’s still not tied up and we’re in a holding pattern until the papers are signed and we are credentialing. Which we aren’t doing just yet.

But, I think we’re close.

My book will be launching on Tuesday, June the 8th. Be looking for it, y’all! I’m beyond excited about it!

Business is slowly picking back up. Texas is wide open at this point. Its rarer to see someone wearing a mask than it is to see those not wearing masks. Concerts have returned. Crowds have returned. And Texas had the second slowest growth of COVID last month. What does that say exactly?? Hell if I know. But I see the University of Massachusetts penalizing kids for not wearing masks off-campus and I see Texas with little COVID growth yet we’re wide open with basically no masks.

Who’s right? To me, it looks like Texas and states like Texas are right at this point in time. All of the lockdowns were important and needed and effective. Now, it appears to be time to loosen up considerably and proceed with less fear and more science.

I’m not an expert in that field. But there has to be some science coming out of what’s happening and the differences between states still locked down and states that are wide open. Between kids that have been going to school since August of 2020 and kids that just started a week or two ago because their schools have been closed all year.

It’s all interesting. That’s for sure. As for me, in my area, the sense of a return to the old normal is refreshing. In a city area of about 270,000 people, we added 19 new cases yesterday. Again, I’m 100% honest when I tell you there are basically zero masks to be seen with 100% capacity everywhere you go.

You be the judge.

Item #1
This first one is called “Chiropractic care and risk for acute lumbar disc herniation: a population-based self-controlled case series study”’ by Hincapie et. al. [1] and published in European Spine in July of 2018.

Why They Did It
“Our objective was to investigate the association between chiropractic care and acute lumbar disc herniation with early surgical intervention, and contrast this with the association between primary care physician care and acute lumbar disc herniation with early surgery.”

How They Did It
195 cases of acute lumbar disc herniation with early surgery (within 8 weeks) were identified in a population of more than 100 million person-years.
Self-controlled case series design and population-based healthcare databases in Ontario, Canada
They investigated all adults with acute lumbar disc herniation requiring emergency department (ED) visit and early surgical intervention from April 1994 to December 2004.
The relative incidence of acute lumbar disc herniation with early surgery in exposed periods after chiropractic visits relative to unexposed periods was estimated within individuals, and
compared with the relative incidence of acute lumbar disc herniation with early surgery following primary care physician visits.

What They Found
Strong positive associations were found between acute lumbar disc herniation and both chiropractic and primary care physician visits.
The risk for acute lumbar disc herniation with early surgery associated with chiropractic visits was no higher than the risk associated with primary care physician visits.

Wrap It Up
“Both chiropractic and primary medical care were associated with an increased risk for acute lumbar disc herniation requiring ED visit and early surgery. Our analysis suggests that patients with prodromal back pain from a developing disc herniation likely seek healthcare from both chiropractors and primary care physicians before full clinical expression of acute lumbar disc herniation. We found no evidence of excess risk for acute lumbar disc herniation with early surgery associated with chiropractic compared with primary medical care.”


Item #2
The last one today is called “Initial Management of Acute and Chronic Low Back Pain: Responses from Brief Interviews of Primary Care Providers” by Roseen et. al. [2] and published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in March of 2021 and we got a hot one folks!

Why They Did It
They say, “In April 2017, the American College of Physicians (ACP) published a clinical practice guideline for low back pain (LBP) [3] recommending nonpharmacologic treatments as first-line therapy for acute, subacute, and chronic LBP.”

Listeners of this Chiropractic Forward Podcast know this because I have been riding that horse nonstop since it came out. I mention damn near every single episode.

The objective here is “To assess primary care provider (PCP)-reported initial treatment recommendations for LBP following guideline release. “

How They Did It
Cross-sectional structured interviews.
Interviews were completed between December 2017 and March 2018.
Convenience sample of 72 primary care providers from 3 community-based outpatient clinics in high- or low-income neighborhoods.
The PCPs were interviewed about their familiarity with the ACP guideline, and how they initially manage patients with acute/subacute and chronic LBP.
PCPs were also asked about their comfort in referring patients to nonpharmacologic treatment providers, and about barriers to referring.

What They Found
Of 72 participating PCPs, over three-fourths indicated being familiar with the ACP guideline
For acute LBP, PCPs typically provided advice to stay active and pharmacologic management (97%; primarily nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).
For chronic LBP, PCPs were more likely to recommend nonpharmacologic treatments than for acute LBP
The most common nonpharmacologic treatments recommended for chronic LBP were physical therapy (78%), chiropractic care (21%), massage therapy (18%), and acupuncture (17%)
The cost of nonpharmacologic treatments was perceived as a barrier.
However, PCPs working in low-income neighborhood clinics were as likely to recommend nonpharmacologic approaches as those from high-income neighborhood clinics.

Wrap It Up
“While most PCPs indicated they were familiar with the ACP guideline for LBP, nonpharmacologic treatments were not recommended for patients with acute symptoms. Further dissemination and implementation of the ACP guideline are needed.”

So, what’s it going to take? Well, for one, the more fringe and crazy part of our profession needs to cut their crap. No, I don’t want to be a medical doctor or I would have gone to med school.

What I DO want is to be a respected part of an integrated healthcare team. Like it or not, the PCP is the gatekeeper and if the PCPs trust us, we get more patients, and at the end of the day, aren’t more patients the name of the game? Come on, of course, it is.

If our profession moves into the year 2021 instead of 1896 or whatever year Palmer got the idea from the osteopaths, then we can move forward with becoming a part of the community. Rather than separate and distinct. I do like not being under the state medical boards and all that good stuff. That’s necessary while there’s still such a divide.

But we can become more and more of the team if we stop thee more fringe assertions and ideas. Nepute, to my understanding, the chiro out in St. Louis…..the dude that has been, in my view, an absolute lunatic all over social media, is the first person getting nailed under the new covid laws and just happens to be a chiropractor.

Not a good look. In my opinion, he’s done chiropractors zero favors and really bruised us up quite a bit. Why in the hell would a PCP…….or a circus worker…or anyone else in the damn world…..see someone like NePuke and associate them with all other chiropractors and decide they’ll never send a patient or a friend to whackos like chiropractors?

Raise the game folks. Raise the game. Get current. Get smart. Make sure you’re sciencing once or twice per day. It’s not hard to do. Get a Diplomate. Specialize. Raise the game

Alright, that’s it. Y’all be safe. Keep changing our profession from your little corner of the world. Keep taking care of yourselves and everyone around you. Tough times are upon us but, the sun will shine again. Trust it, believe it, count on it.

Let’s get to the message. Same as it is every week.

Remember the evidence-informed brochures and posters at

The Message
I want you to know with absolute certainty that when Chiropractic is at its best, you can’t beat the risk vs reward ratio because spinal pain is primarily a movement-related pain and typically responds better to movement-related treatment rather than chemical treatments like pills and shots.

When compared to the traditional medical model, research and clinical experience show us patients can get good to excellent results for headaches, neck pain, back pain, and joint pain to name just a few.

It’s safe and cost-effective can decrease surgeries & disability and we do it through conservative, non-surgical means with minimal hassle to the patient.

And, if the patient treats preventatively after initial recovery, we can usually keep it that way while raising the overall level of health!

Key Point:
At the end of the day, patients should have the guarantee of having the best treatment that offers the least harm. When it comes to non-complicated musculoskeletal complaints….

That’s Chiropractic!

Send us an email at dr dot williams at and let us know what you think of our show and tell us your suggestions for future episodes.

Feedback and constructive criticism is a blessing and so are subscribes and excellent reviews on podcast platforms.

We know how this works by now. If you value something, you have to share it, interact with it, review it, talk about it from time to time, and actively hit a few buttons to support it here and there when asked. It really does make a big difference.

We can’t wait to connect with you again next week. From the Chiropractic Forward Podcast flight deck, this is Dr. Jeff Williams saying upward, onward, and forward.



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About the Author & Host

Dr. Jeff Williams – Fellow of the International Academy of Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine – Chiropractor in Amarillo, TX, Chiropractic Advocate, Author, Entrepreneur, Educator, Businessman, Marketer, and Healthcare Blogger & Vlogger

1. Hincapie C, Chiropractic care and risk for acute lumbar disc herniation: a population-based self-controlled case series study. European Spine Journal, 2018. 27(7): p. 1526-1537.
2. Roseen EJ, C.F., Atlas SJ, Mehta DH,, Initial Management of Acute and Chronic Low Back Pain: Responses from Brief Interviews of Primary Care Providers. J Altern Complement Med, 2021. 27(S1): p. S106-S114.
3. Qaseem A, Noninvasive Treatments for Acute, Subacute, and Chronic Low Back Pain: A Clinical Practice Guideline From the American College of Physicians. Ann Intern Med, 2017. 4(166): p. 514-530.

3 comments on Do Chiropractors Cause Disc Herniations & Family Doctors Still Don’t Get It

  1. Pat Hegdal says:

    From Lubbock Texas Looking for a chiropractor who can help me with scioliosis, buldging discs, and artheritis. Do you know of one. There are no doctors for scioliosis.

    1. chiropracticforward says:

      You might try Jason Helton, Andre Broussard, Jenna Hillman, or Steve Van Osdale. Lots of great options in Lubbock.

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