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CF 028: Will Chiropractic First Finally Take Its Place?

 Will Chiropractic First Finally Take Its Place?

Chiropractic First is on the table today.

As they say in Texas, Howdy y’all. You could also say, Hola Amigo in Texas as well, and as I learned last week, it’s How you doin? in New York. Today we’re going to be talking about whether or not Chiropractic should or could be poised to step up and take it rightful spot in healthcare globally. Buckle up, bucko.

But first, here’s that bumper music

OK, we are back. Welcome to the podcast today, I’m Dr. Jeff Williams and I’m your host for the Chiropractic Forward podcast and today it’s about chiropractic first.  So, glad you’re here with me. In case you are a youngster, the term “bucko” came from a young tike himself named Ritchie Cunningham on Happy Days played by Ron Howard. Yep, that Ron Howard, the famous director and was once a tiny tot named Opie on the Andy Griffith show. No, I’m not THAT old but….I know a little TV trivia here and there. And now it appears that you do too. 

Ritchie, every now and then, would get all worked up into a fuss and call Fonzie or Potsy or whoever a “bucko.” Man…..you wanna talk about fighting words. Fonzie about ended him a time or two but, in the end, Fonzie was way too cool to beat up on Ritchie. OK, enough of that…

I want to ask you to go to http://www.chiropracticforward.com and sign up for our newsletter. We won’t be filling up your inbox and it’s easy to fill you in on all the new stuff. And, in the end, it’s nice of you and it will help keep the wrord circulating if you would like to help us. Likes, shares, and retweets also keep the world turning around and around and that’s really important stuff…..Keeping the world spinning and all….. if we can talk you into it. 

Have you noticed we aren’t selling you anything? That doesn’t mean that we won’t if the right opportunity arises down the road but, I want you to know that I’m doing this podcast for the right reasons. I make furniture, I am a musician, I am a sculptor…..and, Just like anything else I do, I make the things that interest me and that come from my heart. If someone ends up buying what I’ve made down the road, then heck yeah!! Good for me. But, in the meantime, I do what I do because I love it and I guess I have enough ego that I think others may love it as well. I hope you guys and gals love it and find the value like I find in it. 

As with every episode, we are honored to have you with us. We truly are. Now, here we go with some vital information that we think can build confidence and improve your practice which we think will improve your life overall. That’s a tall order but everyone needs goals.

You have Firecircled your way into Episode #28 ala Dr. Strange. My family is full of action movie junkies so just deal with the reference. 

I think a great place to start is by saying that I stumbled upon a heck of a deal this last weekend when I attended the Texas Chiropractic Association’s ChiroTexpo down in Dallas at the Hyatt Regency. I realize the Hyatt Regency holds no meaning to those outside of Dallas but, it’s the hotel with the really cool lit up ball in downtown Dallas. Ah….yes, if you’ve seen the amazing Dallas Cowboys perform inside your TV box, you’ve probably seen the down town rotating restaurant ball on your screen. 

Part of the program had to do with the Lumbar Management portion of the Diplomate of American Chiropractic Orthopedists program. I’m still getting the nuts and bolts of this dude figured out but, basically, it consists of five 10-hour live face-face seminars, 50 hours in total there. Then, 250 of online courses through the University of Bridgeport. After that, you sit for the DACO exam and, assuming you pass it, you now have the honor of being called a DACO and you have the knowledge to back it up. This class was one of the 10-hour sessions.

Now, I have to say, I literally thought I would sit in the class for a couple of hours, my eyes would glaze over, and my butt would start to hurt, and I’d get up and wonder around asking where the nearest trouble could be had because I’m onery on the weekends. I mean really, who the heck wants to sit in a classroom from 1-7pm on a Saturday night and 8-1 on a Sunday morning? Not this guy. Not all in one stretch like that.  

But I did. I sat through all 10 of them. Yep, even surprised myself. Dr. Tim Bertlesman from Illinois was the instructor of the class and he kept it moving, he kept it extremely relevant, and he even kept it pretty funny. Basically, he kept my interest and you know what? I may…..just may…..do the whole program. 

It’s evidence-based for sure and about Chiropractic First

It’s patient-centered without a doubt. And it’s current with the research. If you’ve been paying attention, that’s right in my wheelhouse. If you’d like more information on this program, send me an email at dr.williams@chiropracticforward.com and we’ll connect. As I learn more and more about it all, I’ll be glad to share if you think you’d be interested as well. 

He started off the class with some slides referencing a few studies that I haven’t seen just yet and I a lot of what he was saying is what I’ve been telling all of you for 28 episodes now. All of them. Every single episode. 

The overwhelming sentiment here is that the door is open thanks to opioids. The door to chiropractic first, that is. The chance we have waited for is here. Right now. We may not get it again. People are hungry for what we do and we now have all of the research we need to back ourselves and our profession up, to show complete validation, and thrust us into the mainstream of healthcare for non-complicated musculoskeletal issues. That’s here. 

Let’s look at a little bit of it and see if you agree. 

This is from April 2016 and was published in JAMA. It was authored by Dr. Deborah Dowell, MD, et. al. and was called “CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain – United States, 2016(Dowell D 2016).”

Why They Did It

Realizing that opioids are a problem, that there are a limited number of long-term opioid research papers, and that primary care physicians need better, safer ways of managing chronic pain, the authors hoped to make recommendations for when to prescribe opioids outside of cancer treatment, etc….and when to not prescribe them. 

How They Did It

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) used the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE) protocol in order to assess the evidence type and make recommendations from there. 
  • Evidence was made up of observational studies or randomized clinical trials with notable limitations. 
  • No study evaluated long-term (over 1 year) benefit for opioids in chronic pain. 

What They Found

  • There are 12 recommendations
  • Of the most importance was the recommendation that non-opioids is preferred for treatment of chronic pain. That’s where WE fit in folks.
  • Opioids should only be used when benefits for pain and function outweigh risks but risks are use disorder, overdose, and death so….. Pretty much never.
  • Before starting any opioid therapy, practitioners need to set goals and settle on how they will be discontinued if benefits do not outweigh risks.
  • Blah….blah blah….a bunch of other language that does not pertain to us chiropractors. 

Wrap Up

Non-pharmacologic therapy and non-opioid pharmacologic therapy are preferred. Chiropractic first

I think that, before the American College of Physicians finally came right out and said to go see someone that performs spinal manipulation to treat acute and chronic low back pain, this was JAMA’s way of saying, “Hey guys and gals, ummm….we’ve created a bit of a mess and we had better start cleaning it up (cough chiropractic cough) and maybe we should look outside of usual medical care like pills (cough chiropractic cough) and drugs that people get hooked and drugs that kill people (cough Chiropractic).

JAMA has come along slowly but they’ve made great progress. Even since this paper originally came out. 

For the next article, let’s look at this one called “Attorney General Janet Mills Joins 37 States, Territories in Fight Against Opioid Incentives,” released by the Office of the Attorney General on September 18, 2017(Roth-Wells A 2017). 

The Attorney General in Maine, Janet Mills, joined 37 other states in the fight against opioids according to this article. The AG was quoted in the article as saying, “Last year Maine enacted a law limiting opioid prescriptions and that law is beginning to have a positive impact. Now health insurers need to reduce any financial incentives to prescribing these addicting narcotics and offer greater coverage for alternative therapies. As the chief legal officers of our States, we are committed to using all tools at our disposal to combat this epidemic and to protect patients suffering from chronic pain or addiction.”

The attorneys general contend that incentives that promote use of non-opioid therapies will encourage medical providers to consider physical therapy, acupuncture, massage, chiropractic care, and non-opioid medications, instead of narcotic drugs.

The article went on to list all 37 states that were signed on to this initiative but, sadly, my state of Texas was not on the list. That pesky Texas Medical Association really tends to get in the way. I see the other biggest states on the list in regards to the number of chiropractors practicing. Those states are California, New York, and Florida but, no, not Texas.

The next article is called “FDA Education Bluepring for Health Care Providers Involved in the Management or Support of Patients with Pain” and was published in May 2017(FDA 2017). 

On page three, section two, the paper dicusses nonpharmacologic therapies. It states, “A number of nonpharmacologic therapies are available that can play an important role in managing pain, particularly msculoskeletal pain and chronic pain.” 

It then goes on to mention categories. The categories they mention are Psychological approaches, and, while I think our patients look at us as chiropractors, financial advisors, psychologists, and a whole host of other professionals, this paper is speaking to cognitive behavioral therapy and, if I’m honest, I’m simply unfamiliar with that as a treatment regimen. I certainly have more to learn on that topic. They also mention physical therapy, of course. They mention surgical intervention and then they mention complementary therapy underwhich is mentioned acupuncture and chirlpracty. 

I’ve not ever in my life heard the term “chiropracty” but at least we’re in the game, I suppose. 

Then the paper closes the section by saying, “Health care providers should be knowledgeable about the range of available therapies, when they may be helpful, and when they should be used as part of a multidisciplinary approach to pain management.”

Isn’t that interesting? How many practitioners do you think came across this paper and this section of this paper? How many do you suppose have decided to take it upon themselves to get extra information and education in this particular topic? 

Maybe some but, mostly, I would say that it is up to us chiropractors to do our part to educate our medical communities on this sort of information. It’s the FDA for goodness sake. It’s on a government website. It cannot be hard to point them in the right direction and for the medical practitioners to be able to trust the information if it’s coming from this sort of a platform or footing. But, they have to be shown the way. Most of them aren’t simply going to stumble on to it and say, “Oh hey, looky here. Looks like I’ve been wrong my whole life about chiropractic.” 

They need some help and some guidance to find it and then hopefully to receive the information on their own. Regardless of where you start, using sources like the FDA, the Journal of American Medical Association, The Lancet, and the American College of Physicians is always a good idea. They are reputable and they are forms of information that the medical kingdom place a lot of stock and value in. It turns out that they’re on our side on this matter. 

Next, let’s talk about The Joint Commission. “What is The Joint Commission?” you may ask yourself. You may ask yourself that question because that’s the question I asked myself when I first saw the paper so I did some homework for you. 

A quick visit to their website tells us the following:

“An independent, not-for-profit organization, The Joint Commission accredits and certifies nearly 21,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. Joint Commission accreditation and certification is recognized nationwide as a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to meeting certain performance standards.

 

Our Mission:  To continuously improve health care for the public, in collaboration with other stakeholders, by evaluating health care organizations and inspiring them to excel in providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value.

 

Vision Statement:  All people always experience the safest, highest quality, best-value health care across all settings.”

If you really read and understand what is said in that description, you’ll see the terms “improve health care for the public” and “providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value” and safest, highest quality, best-value health care across all setting.” The vast majority of paper we have covered in the previous 27 episodes argue that chiropractic fits the bill in a lot of different ways.

This article comes from The Joint Commission Online and was published on November 12, 2014 talking about revisions to pain management standards that were to be updated just a couple of months later, January 1, 2015(The Joint Commission Online 2014). I want to give this group credit. They seem to have started to catch on to the need for nonpharma protocols about a year to a year and a half prior to the rest of the medical profession. Kudos to them. 

In the blue box is the Standard PC.01.02.07 which is the code for assessing and managing patients’ pain. The revision states that both nonpharma and pharma play a part in pain management, the non-pharma strategies may include the following: acupuncture therapy, chiropractic therapy, osteopathic manipulative treatment, massage therapy, physical therapy, relaxation therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy. 

That stuff sounds fairly familiar for the most part doesn’t it? We’ve been talking about it for months by now so it should indeed be familiar. Except for the cognitive behavioral therapy bit. I kid. Cognitive behavioral therapy is geared toward treating depression, anxiety disorders, phobias, and other forms of mental disorders. Certainly the disorders that may exacerbate chronic pain or, at minimum, prevent the patient from moving beyond the pain in any meaningful way.

Continuing on, here’s a paper from the prestigious Spine Journal by Jon Adams, PhD et. al. called, “The Prevalence, Patterns, and Predictors of Chiropractic Use Among US Adults(Adams J 2017).” 

Why They Did It

Just as the title of the paper indicates, the goal of the authors was to learn more about the prevalence, patterns, and use of chiropractic care in the US. 

How They Did It

  • They took a cross-sectional data from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey. The National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) is the principal and reliable source of comprehensive health care information in the United States, utilizing a nationally rep- resentative sample of the civilian noninstitutionalized popu- lation of the United States
  • They used that information to analyze the lifetime and 12-month prevalence and utilization patterns of chiropractic use. 
  • They determined the profile of chiropractic users. 
  • They determined the predictors of chiropractic consultations.

What They Found

  • Lifetime prevalence of chiropractic use was 24%
  • 12-month prevalence of chiropractic use was 8.4%
  • The use of chiropractic care has grown from 2002 to when the data stopped in 2012
  • Back pain caused people to seek chiropractic care to the tune of 63%
  • Neck pain caused them to go about 30% of the time. 
  • The majority of chiropractic users reported that it helped a great deal with their health problem and improved overal health or well-being. 

Wrap It Up

The authors concluded by saying, “A substantial proportion of US adults utilized chiropractic services during the past 12 months and reported associated positive outcomes for overall well-being and/or specific health problems.”

When we dive a little further past the abstract and get down into this paper, it goes into the specific percentages for different questions:

Chiropractic led to:

  • Better Sleep 42%
  • Reduced Stress 40%
  • Felt better overall and improved health 39%
  • Was seen as very important to the user 48%
  • Helped for a specific health problem 65%
  • Didn’t help at all 4% 
  • 62% went to a chiropractor to treat the cause, not the symptom!

I want to finish up this week’s papers by citing one that came right out of the White House not long ago.

If you go to The President’s Commission On Combating Drug Addiction and The Opioid Crisis report and make your way down to page 57, you will see where the authors say the following, ““A key contributor to the opioid epidemic has been the excess prescribing of opioids for common pain complaints and for postsurgical pain. Although in some conditions, behavioral programs, acupuncture, chiropractic, surgery, as well as FDA-approved multimodal pain strategies have been proven to reduce the use of opioids, while providing effective pain management, current CMS reimbursement policies, as well as health insurance providers and other payers, create barriers to the adoption of these strategies.” That is from the White House. 

If you continue to the very bottom of the page, you’ll see this quote, ““The Commission recommends CMS review and modify rate-setting policies that discourage the use of non-opioid treatments for pain, such as certain bundled payments that make alternative treatment options cost prohibitive for hospitals and doctors, particularly those options for treating immediate post-surgical pain.”

In Episode #11, when I brought this up to my long-time buddy and past TCA President Dr. Tyce Hergert, he said, “You mean like a specialist copay for chiro care and a lower copay for primary care? Or covering surgery 100% and NOT covering non-surgical means.” I couldn’t have said it any better. 

Essentially, the United States Government is admitting there is professional discrimination at the highest levels…..hello Medicare and Health Insurance plans….I’m talking to you….this discrimination creates barriers to doing the smart thing.

The smart thing is seeing a chiropractor for your back pain. The “Big Guys” (AKA: American College of Physicians, The Lancet, the FDA,  and the American Medical Association) recommend it and the government says policies are in place to prevent patients from following those recommendations.

Key Takeaways:

  1. The general population is starving for what we chiropractors do and for what we can offer them. 
  2. All of the important entities in the medical kingdom now recommend what we do but primary practitioners and specialists haven’t caught on just yet.
  3. There are barriers set up within Medicare and insurance in general keeping people from seeking the safest, most cost-effective, non-pharma means to treat themselves.
  4. It’s up to US and nobody else to get the word out in our medical communities. Nobody is going to do it for us and that’s a guarantee. 

I want you to go forward this week with confidence and validation but with the understanding that it is up to every single one of you to figure out how to educate your medical community in an evidence-based, patient-centered way an the first one that does it correctly and effectively may just win a pot of gold and become THE spinal authority in your community. 

I would say that you also need to do your friend Dr. Williams, and all other chiropractors in the world, a big favor. That favor would be to help us get the word out about this podcast. If you find value in it, don’t you think others would too? I’m not sponsored here. I’m doing it because I love it. I don’t have $10,000 to promote the podcast on Facebook or Twitter so I have to keep asking our listeners to please do us a favor and go like our page on Facebook, Like and Share our content EVERY WEEK, FOLLOW us on Twitter, and RETWEET our content on Twitter. 

These are incredibly easy things to do and I truly need your help with them if you would please be kind enough. 

I want you to know with absolute certainty that When Chiropractic is at its best, you cannot beat the risk vs reward ratio. Plain and simple. Spinal pain is a mechanical pain and responds better to mechanical treatment rather than chemical treatment such as pain killers, muscle relaxants, and anti-inflammatories.

When you look at the body of literature, it is clear: research and clinical experience shows that, in about 80%-90% of headaches, neck, and back pain, compared to the traditional medical model, patients get good to excellent results with Chiropractic. It’s safe, more cost-effective, decreases chances of surgery, and reduces chances of becoming disabled. We do this conservatively and non-surgically with minimal time requirements and hassle on the part of the patient. And, if the patient develops a “preventative” mindset going forward, we can likely keep it that way while raising the general, overall level of health! And patients have the right to the best treatment that does the least harm. THAT’S Chiropractic folks.

Please feel free to send us an email at dr dot williams at chiropracticforward.com and let us know what you think or what suggestions you may have for us for future episodes. Feedback and constructive criticism is a blessing and we want to hear from you on a range of topics so bring it on folks!

If you love what you hear, be sure to check out www.chiropracticforward.com. We want to ask you to share us with you network and help us build this podcast into the #1 Chiropractic evidence-based podcast in the world. 

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

CF 013: DEBUNKED: The Odd Myth That Chiropractors Cause Strokes (Part 1 of 3)

CF 011: With Dr. Tyce Hergert: It’s Here. New Guides For Low Back Pain That Medical Doctors Are Ignoring

 

Social Media Links

iTunes

Bibliography

Adams J (2017). “The Prevalence, Patterns, and Predictors of Chiropractic Use Among US Adults.” Spine 42(23): 1810-1816.

Dowell D (2016). “CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain – United States.” MMWR Recomm Rep 65: 1-49.

FDA (2017). “FDA Education Blueprint for Health Care Providers Involved in the Management or Support of Patients with Pain.”

Roth-Wells A (2017). “Attorney General Janet Mills Joins 37 States, Territories in Fight against Opioid Incentives.” Office Of The Maine Attorney General.

The Joint Commission Online (2014). “Revisions to pain management standard effective January 1, 2015 BrightStar Care recognized as Enterprise Champion for Quality for second year New on the Web.” Joint Commission Online.

 

CF 027: WANTED – Safe, Nonpharmacological Means Of Treating Spinal Pain

WANTED – Safe, Nonpharmacological Means Of Treating Spinal Pain

Today we’re going to talk about treating spinal pain, thoracic manipulation, lumbar manipulation, guidelines from Canada, and perceptions of our profession. Did you know that many people actually think that Chiropractic herniate low back discs all of the time? That’s not our idea of treating spinal pain. That’s for sure!

But first, here’s that bumper music

OK, we are back. Welcome to the podcast today, I’m Dr. Jeff Williams and I’m your host for the Chiropractic Forward podcast and I am honored to have you join me today.  Thank you to those of you that send emails and like and share our content on Facebook and Twitter. You make it fun. If you haven’t already noticed, we have “Tweetable” quotes from our show notes. All you have to do is click the Tweet button and you’re all set. 

Now, here we go with some vital information that we think can build confidence and improve your practice which will improve your life overall. That’s a tall order but that is the goal

You have cavorted your way into Episode #27. Yes, it’s a word. In fact, it’s a synonym of the word dance. Oh how I do love a thesaurus. 

As I’m about to record this episode, it is June 4, 2018 and I am getting ready to head down to the Texas Chiropractic Association’s State Convention. Now, things like that used to make my eyes gloss over but, I wasn’t doing it right or looking at it through the right lens. 

I was a traveling musician for several years and, honestly, chiropractic for me at the time was Plan B while I made a run at music. Well, as usually happens with musicians, it didn’t make me rich. Shock, shock…

During those years, I was a little bit like a guy out on an island all by himself. A lone wolf you might say. I didn’t know anything about research, guidelines, or anything like that. Hell, I was lucky to get to work on time back then. 

Along with being on an island all alone, I thought the idea of being a member of my state association sounded like one to the biggest, best ways to waste my money. Money that I really needed at the time. Well, I was misinformed. Becoming a member of the Texas Chiropractic Association has been one of the best, most rewarding things I have done in my professional life. 

First, I met a ton of people through the TCA. I have a network of colleagues and friends now. If I have a question about ANYTHING, I have an answer! In fact, I was having a hard time with collections for some time and a colleague is the one that came to my rescue. 

Also, the TCA doesn’t just take my money, they take it and use it to help me in my daily life. They have fought some outstanding odds and won several times. They won where, if they had lost, I wouldn’t have the right to diagnose my patients and would be much like a physical therapist depending on referrals from MDs. I’d say that alone is worth my $48 a month wouldn’t you agree?

I went on to serve several years on the Board of Directors for the TCA and am the current chairperson for the Chiropractic Development Initiative fighting to pay for lawsuits, fighting to bolster our profession, and protect it. 

The point here is, I hope you’ll seriously consider joining your state association as well as the American Chiropractic Association. My dues for both combined each month run around $155. It’s just another bill you pay and it goes to securing your job. It’s worth it and I hope you’ll think about doing it. Chiropractic Forward is not just an idea. I walk the walk by being a member and being active. 

Sometimes I end up deviating from research and all that good stuff we do every week but, sometimes, you gotta share what’s on you mind. Thank you for indulging me. 

Let’s get started with the research talk this week with a paper called “Rehabilitative principles in the management of thoracolumbar syndrome: a case report,” by Mathew DiMond who is a DC, DACRB around Bridgeport Connecticut(DiMond M 2017). For those that don’t know what a DACRB is, it stands for Diplomate of the American Chiropractic Rehabilitation Board. To put that into perspective, there are roughly 5,200 chiropractors in Texas and only 5 DACRBs. 

Why They Did It

Dr. DiMond wanted to describe his management of a case where the patient suffered from thoracolumbar syndrome. 

How They Did It

  • The patient was a 33 year old woman. 
  • She had suffered back pain for 3 weeks
  • Nerve tension tests and local tenderness were present
  • Outcome Assessment tools used were the Oswestry Disability Index which was at 62% at baseline, the STarT low back screen tool (6 points total with 2 point subscale), the Numeric Pain Rating Scale (6/10), and the test-retest exercise audits. 
  • 3 treatments rendered to the patient

What They Found

Her scores were substantially improved. Oswestry improved to 8% , STarT (1 point total), Numeric rating scale 1/10.

Wrap It Up

The author concluded by saying, “The patient responded positively to chiropractic care. After a short course of care, the patient reported reduced pain, alleviated symptoms, and improved physical function.” Now that’s treating spinal pain in a nonpharmacological way.

Now onto the next one. We don’t sit still around here. Bam, bam, bam!

This one is titled “Chiropractic spinal manipulation and the risk for acute lumbar disc herniation: a belief elicitation study” by Cesar Hincapie, et. al. and published in the European Spine Journal(Hincapie C 2017). 

Why They Did it

We know low back pain is the number one reason for disability in the world and that chiropractic is moving into the forefront. The author noted that chiropractic has been reported to increase the risk for lumbar disc herniation without any high quality evidence to support the claim. The author wanted to determine the beliefs on this topic going forward.

I have to say all one needs to do is look toward the American College of Physicians new recommendations and The Lancet low back series recommendations for using chiropractic as a first line treatment for low back pain and that should tell you all you need to know on this but, we will go ahead and explore this simply to expand our learning and knowledge. We are the profession best poised for treating spinal pain!

How They Did It

They used a belief elicitation design

They used 47 clinicians made up of 16 chiropractors, 15 family physicians, and 16 spinal surgeons. 

The clinicians estimated how often a chiropractic adjustment could cause a lumbar disc herniation in a hypothetical group of patients with acute low back pain. 

What They Found

  • As one would expect, chiropractors were the most optimistic that the occurrence was rare. In fact chiropractors held the belief that spinal manipulation actually decreases the chance of disc herniation rather than increases it.
  • Family physicians were mostly neutral
  • Spinal surgeons expressed a slightly more pessimistic belief toward the idea

Wrap It Up

The researchers concluded, “Clinicians’ beliefs about the risk for acute LDH associated with chiropractic SMT varied systematically across professions, in spite of a lack of scientific evidence to inform these beliefs.”

My bias is obvious but, the thought of chiropractors going around herniating discs had to have come from someone that either hates chiropractors like the American Medical Association of the 60;s, 70’s, 80’s, and so on…..or it had to come from ignorance. I believe that paper was published just prior to the new updated recommendations putting chiropractic in the driver’s seat for acute and chronic low back pain but geez…. I do get tired of defending the profession. 

Now let’s wrap up the week here with a paper from our chiropractic brethren for the frozen North otherwise known as Canada. The lead author is Dr. Andre Bussieres and the paper is called “Spinal Manipulative Therapy and Other Conservative Treatments for Low Back Pain: A Guideline From the Canadian Chiropractic Guideline Initiative” and was published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics in May of 2018(Bussieres A 2018). 

Why They Did It

The objective of this study was to develop a clinical practice guideline on the management and treating spinal pain of acute and chronic low back pain (LBP) in adults. The aim was to develop a guideline to provide best practice recommendations on the initial assessment and monitoring of people with low back pain and address the use of spinal manipulation therapy (SMT) compared with other commonly used conservative treatments.

How They Did It

  • The authors assessed systematic reviews and randomized controlled trials using A Measurement Tool to Assess Systematic Reviews and Cochrane Back Review Group criteria. 
  • Evidence profiles were used to summarize judgements of the evidence quality. 
  • The Evidence to Decision Framework was used to help the panel to determine the certainty of evidence and strength of the recommendations. 
  • Consensus was achieved through the modified Delphi technique
  • This guideline was peer reviewed by an 8-member multidisciplinary external committee. 

What They Found

  • Acute back pain (0-3 months)

Offer advice on posture and staying active, reassure the patients, education and self-management strategies, chiropractic care, usual medical treatment if deemed beneficial, or a combination of chiropractic care and usual medical treatment. These are effective means of treating spinal pain. 

  • Chronic back pain (3 months and beyond)

When treating spinal pain, offer advice and education chiropractic care or chiropractic care in conjunction with exercise, myofascial, or usual medical care. 

  • Chronic back-related leg pain

Offer advice and education with chiropractic care and home exercise such as positioning and stabilization exercises. Treating spinal pain for chronic patients can be challenging for both the patient and the doctor.

Wrap It Up

The authors concluded by saying, “A multimodal approach including SMT, other commonly used active interventions, self-management advice, and exercise is an effective treatment strategy for acute and chronic back pain, with or without leg pain.” Treating spinal pain is just what we do.

Help us spread the news folks. Go out and get on your roof and start yelling it to the masses. Retweet, like and share and all of the stuff you can help with on your end of it. You can find us on Twitter @chiro_forward and on Facebook. We’re there. We’re just waiting on you to join us so go do that right now

I realize this week was a little here and a little there but the point is that no matter what you’ve heard or been told in the past, those days are over. I believe they’re over for good at this point. We are the #1, non-pharma, safe, conservative, non-invasive, research-backed, evidence-backed, treatment for spinal pain, hands down. And that’s a heck of a place to be coming from wouldn’t you agree?

I want you to know with absolute certainty that When Chiropractic is at its best, you cannot beat the risk vs reward ratio. Plain and simple. Spinal pain is a mechanical pain and responds better to mechanical treatment rather than chemical treatment such as pain killers, muscle relaxants, and anti-inflammatories.

When you look at the body of literature, it is clear: research and clinical experience shows that, in about 80%-90% of headaches, neck, and back pain, compared to the traditional medical model, patients get good to excellent results with Chiropractic. It’s safe, more cost-effective, decreases chances of surgery, and reduces chances of becoming disabled. We do this conservatively and non-surgically with minimal time requirements and hassle on the part of the patient. And, if the patient develops a “preventative” mindset going forward, we can likely keep it that way while raising the general, overall level of health! And patients have the right to the best treatment that does the least harm. THAT’S Chiropractic folks.

Please feel free to send us an email at dr dot williams at chiropracticforward.com and let us know what you think or what suggestions you may have for us for future episodes. Feedback and constructive criticism is a blessing and we want to hear from you on a range of topics so bring it on folks!

If you love what you hear, be sure to check out www.chiropracticforward.com. We want to ask you to share us with you network and help us build this podcast into the #1 Chiropractic evidence-based podcast in the world. 

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

CF 011: With Dr. Tyce Hergert: It’s Here. New Guides For Low Back Pain That Medical Doctors Are Ignoring

CF 016: Review of The Lancet Article on Low Back Pain (Pt. 1)

CF 013: DEBUNKED: The Odd Myth That Chiropractors Cause Strokes (Part 1 of 3)

 

Social Media Links

iTunes

Bibliography

Bussieres A, e. a. (2018). “Spinal Manipulative Therapy and Other Conservative Treatments for Low Back Pain: A Guideline From the Canadian Chiropractic Guideline Initiative.” Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 41(4): 265-293.

DiMond M (2017). “Rehabilitative Principles in the Management of Thoracolumbar Syndrome: A Case Report.” Journal of Chiropractic Medicine 16(4): 331-339.

Hincapie C (2017). “Chiropractic spinal manipulation and the risk for acute lumbar disc herniation: a belief elicitation study.” European Spine Journal.

 

CF 024: They Laughed When I Said I Could Still Help After Back Surgery

They Laughed When I Said I Could Still Help After Back Surgery

Today, we’re going to talk about people coming into our office after having had back surgery wanting us to perform miracles. Well, why didn’t they come to us BEFORE the surgery would be my big question. We’ll toss all that stuff around today on the Chiropractic Forward Podcast. 

But first, here’s that bumper music!

OK, we are back. Welcome to the podcast today, I’m Dr. Jeff Williams and I’m your host for the Chiropractic Forward podcast.  

Before we get started, I want to ask you to go to chiropracticforward.com and sign up for our newsletter. On another note, do you need an hour or two for your Continuing Education seminar on low back pain guidelines or on Debunking the myth that chiropractors cause strokes? 

Go no further, you have found your man. Just send me an email at dr.williams@chiropracticforward.com and we will get it done.

We are honored to have you listening. Now, here we go with some vital information that we think can build confidence and improve your practice which will improve your life overall. That’s a tall order but that is the goal

You have done the electric slide right into Episode #24 and that’s exciting

Now, as I mentioned previously, how many times do chiropractors have new patients come through the doors but they’ve already had back surgery? They’ve had back surgery they hoped would be a quick fix usually. But it wasn’t. 

Now, they’re sitting in your office, looking at you with a very scared and concerned face, and it’s up to you to lead the way and, hopefully, be able to provide them some sort of relief with your magical abilities. 

I can tell you from 20 plus years of experience that it happens all of the time. At least a time or two per month for a busy practice. That’s what I would guess. 

The truth is, sometimes we can help these back surgery people and sometimes we just can’t. I tell patients that surgery, many times, is permanent and anything we do toward trying to get some relief can be a little bit like pushing a wheelbarrow uphill. Depending on the weight in the wheelbarrow, we may get it to the top and we may not get it to the top but we’re sure as hell going to try while making sure we keep them safe from further damage. 

At first glance, when you’re looking at an x-ray of a post-surgical patient, many times I find myself thinking, “What in the heck can I possibly do with this trainwreck.” I’m sure I’m not the only one to ever feel like that. It’s a little bit of a helpless feeling sometimes. Especially when you see parts missing like you’ll see in a laminectomy. Or when you see parts added like boney fusions or fusions with hardware. I get a sinking feeling in my stomach for patients like that. Back surgery is no joke.

Especially when we know for a researched-fact that these patients most likely did not have to endure those procedures. For any reason. If you aren’t sure about that statement, please review our podcast episodes we did no The Lancet low back series. Episodes #16, #17, and #18 dealt with this very issue. 

Back surgery is gaining in popularity while the outcomes show no change. They are no longer recommending surgery for acute or chronic low back pain. Period. Sure, cauda equina syndrome, foot drop, and severe symptoms like that may indicate surgical intervention but, otherwise, they say no shots, no surgery, no bed rest, and no medications. 

We will be hammering these things consistently until we start seeing some change. I can guarantee it. 

OK, but…..what if nobody listened to the experts and they just did the surgery with no relief? Can we do anything about it? 

Let’s look at a couple of possiblities:

  1. The spine was fused years ago and now, due to the immobilization and increased workload on the segments above and below, the segments above and/or below begin to show signs of wear and tear. 
  2. The spine was not fused but the complaint never improved. This may be the case in people that have the microdiscectomies or epidural spinal injections. 

Of course there are a lot of different, very specific outcomes that don’t fit in those two categories but I’d say these are the ones I commonly see. 

Let’s take the first one: a fusion that caused issues above and below the fused segment. If you go through nonsurgical spinal decompression certification through the Kennedy Decompression Technique, you’ll be taught that a fusion with hardware is a hard contraindication. At least it was 6 years ago. 

Assuming these people develop disc issues above or below the fusion, that would mean you can’t do any decompression on the site. An orthopedic surgeon that is familiar with non-surgical decompression however, may tell you that the segment is more solid after the fusion than it ever was before and decompression won’t cause any issues with the fusion itself. 

OK, so, we’re stuck between two worlds on that and, honestly, if you’re an expert on this and you’re listening, email me at dr.williams@chiropracticforward.com and tell me your experience and understanding. 

After bouncing the problem off of several highly trusted colleagues, I think a light pull on decompression is tolerated just fine and does in fact provide relief to fusion patients. No, you cannot pull them at 1/3 or 1/2 of their body weight. We’re talking a LIGHT pull. This combined with gentle McKenzie and Core exercises as well as self-management recommendations at home will go toward getting them back on their feet and getting back after it. 

If any of you disagree, I’d love to talk about it. My first question would be, “What would the alternative be?” 

I am by no means the final and ultimate opinion on this. We have to depend on trusted advice and clinical experience, don’t we? That’s just what I do and what I’ve found is that about 80% of patients just get better. There’s about 10% that gets better but not quite what we hoped for. Then there’s that 10% that …”Hey, we tried and it looks like I’m not your homey on this deal.”

Now, what about the second option? Let’s say that they had a discetomy back surgery but it was a failure (surprise surprise) and now it’s up to us to help the patient and attempt to keep them from enduring any more back surgery or shots. What do you do? Maybe I should say, “What do WE do?”

I say adjust them!! After a certain healing time has passed, of course. 

I say we do all the other stuff I mentioned previously for them as well. We may do decmopression. We may do laser. We certainly do McKenzies, Core Building, McGill’s Big Three, no bed rest, and home self-management.

If you have paid much attention to our previous episodes then you know the American College of Physicians and the global panel of experts on low back pain that published the low back pain papers in The Lancet back in March of 2018 say that spinal mobilization is a researched and recommended first-line therapy for acute and chronic low back pain. 

In my opinion, a discetomy doesn’t change these recommendations much. Sometimes, cases are so specific, that they just don’t get researched in depth for that certain instance. 

However, I CAN offer a case study if you’re willing to listen. 

It was titled, “Chiropractic/Rehabilitative Management of Post-Surgical Disc Herniation: A Retrospective Case Report” and was published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine in the Summer edition of 2004(Estadt G 2004).  

Why They Did It

To explore management of lumbar disc herniation following sugery using a regimen of chiropractic manipulation and exercise/rehab. 

How They Did It

  • The patient was a 54 yr old male
  • The patient had a history of acute low back pain with left sciatic pain down the left posterior thigh and lateral calf as well as numbness inthe bottom of the left foot. 
  • The patient previously had steroid anti-inflammatory drugs and lumbar microdiscectomy surgery. 
  • The patient did not recover completely.
  • The patient couldn’t walk without hurting and was unable to return to activities of daily living. 
  • He was antalgic in flexion. 
  • His lumbar range of motion was restricted in flexion as well as in extension. 
  • He had a positive SLR as well as foot drop on the left. 
  • Intervention consisted of patient education on posture, bending, and lifting. 
  • Exercise/Rehab was started in-office progressing to at-home based exercise/rehab. 
  • Active rehab was continued after early improvement (7 visits) in order to return lumbar spinal extensor strength. 
  • The patient was ultimately released to home therapy and supportive chiropractic care and continued to show improvement. 

Wrap It Up

The author concluded, “Management of postsurgical lumbar disc herniation with chiropractic and active rehabilitation is discussed. Spinal deconditioning and weakness of the lumbar spinal extensor muscles appeared to be related to the patient’s symptoms. Patient education on proper posture, proper lifting techniques, core stabilization exercises, active strengthening exercise and chiropractic manipulation appeared effective in this case.”

OK, a case study with one subject. What does that tell us as far as research goes? Very little. What is the impact of the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine? It’s  peer-reviewed and it has an impact factor of 0.74 and has climbed significantly since 0.36 in 2011. 

Although this case study is only one patient’s experience, from my own anecdotal evidence, I would come very close to guaranteeing you and betting the farm that these post back surgery results can be repeated time and time again.

I’ve seen it time and time again. My experience tells me we can help these people. YOU can help these people. Back surgery doesn’t always mean we are helpless to pull out the power of chiropractic. 

I want you to know with absolute certainty that when Chiropractic is at its best, you cannot beat the risk vs reward ratio. Plain and simple. Spinal pain is a mechanical pain and responds better to mechanical treatment rather than chemical treatment such as pain killers, muscle relaxants, and anti-inflammatories.

When you look at the body of literature, it is clear: research and clinical experience shows that, in about 80%-90% of headaches, neck, and back pain, compared to the traditional medical model, patients get good to excellent results with Chiropractic. It’s safe, more cost-effective, decreases chances of surgery, and reduces chances of becoming disabled. We do this conservatively and non-surgically with minimal time requirements and hassle on the part of the patient. And, if the patient develops a “preventative” mindset going forward, we can likely keep it that way while raising the general, overall level of health! And patients have the right to the best treatment that does the least harm. THAT’S Chiropractic folks.

Please feel free to send us an email at dr dot williams at chiropracticforward.com and let us know what you think or what suggestions you may have for us for future episodes. Feedback and constructive criticism is a blessing and we want to hear from you on a range of topics so bring it on folks!

If you love what you hear, be sure to check out www.chiropracticforward.com. We want to ask you to share us with you network and help us build this podcast into the #1 Chiropractic evidence-based podcast in the world. 

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

Social Media Links

iTunes

Bibliography

Estadt G (2004). “Chiropractic/Rehabilitative Management of Post-Surgical Disc Herniation: A Retrospective Case Report.” Journal of Chiropractic Medicine 3(3): 108-115.

CF 020: Chiropractic Evolution or Extinction?

CF 008: With Dr. Craig Benton – Brand New Information Based on Results Chiropractic Proven Effective For Low Back Pain

CF 018: Pt. 3 – Review of The Lancet Article: Low back pain a call to action

Review of The Lancet Article: Low back pain a call to action (Part Three)

On the Chiropractic Forward podcast this week, we are going continue a review of a recent paper published on low back pain that we hope will have a powerful impact in the months and years to follow. This week it will be a review of paper #3 from the Lancet series – low back pain a call to action.

Before we get started, I want to draw your attention our website at chiropracticforward.com. Just below the area where you can listen to the latest episode, you’ll see an area where you can sign up for our newsletter. I’d like to encourage you to sign up. It’s just an email about once a week to let you know when the episode is updated and what it’s about. Also, if something brand new pops up, we’ll be able to tell you about it quickly and easily.

Welcome to the podcast today, you have strolled right into episode 17. I’m Dr. Jeff Williams and I’m your host for the Chiropractic Forward podcast where we talk about issues related to health, chiropractic, evidence, chiropractic advocacy, and research. Thank you for taking time out of your day I know your time is valuable and I want to fill it with value so here we go. And this week it’s low back pain a call to action.

As I mentioned at the top of the show, this week, I want to continue with the series published in The Lancet on March 21, 2018. For a quick re-cap this week…. The Lancet is one of the oldest and most respected medical journals in the world. It has been around since 1823. In addition to the credibility of the journal, this series of papers dealing with Low Back Pain was compiled and authored by the leading experts on the matter globally. On top of that, the experts were a group of interdisciplinary practitioners which meant they ranged from medical doctors and PhD’s, to physical therapists and chiropractors.

Essentially, EVERYONE had a seat at the table so, it is the general consensus at this point that this series of papers is as current, as credible, and as accurate as can be had at this point in time and in our understanding of Low Back Pain.

The three papers were broken down as follows:

  1. What low back pain is and why we need to pay attention.
  2. Prevention and treatment of low back pain: evidence, challenges, and promising directions.
  3. Low back pain a call to action.

Last week, we reviewed the first of the three papers which was titled, “What low back pain is and why we need to pay attention.” We went through it note by note and section by section trying to strip away the embellishments to simply boil it down to a leisure read and, hopefully, an enjoyable learning process.

We will do the same this week with the third paper of the series titled, “Low back pain a call to action.”

I want to start this week in the same way we started last week: by discussing how the papers were accomplished.

How They Did It

For this paper, again titled “What low back pain is and why we need to pay attention,” the researchers identified scientific studies through searches of databases:

•MEDLINE (PubMed)

•Scopus

•Google Scholar

•African Index Medicus Database

In order to ensure a high-quality standard, systematic reviews were shown preference for inclusion.

This week, we’re going to review the last of the three papers from a recent series published in The Lancet on March 21, 2018. If you don’t know the impact or why this series is so important, please review the last two episodes of the Chiropractic Forward Podcast at www.chiropracticforward.com or the last two articles of my blog over at amarillochiropractor.com/blog. That will get you up to speed. In short, the series on low back pain was compiled and authored by an international panel of experts on the matter. Essentially, the best of the best.

This last of the three papers is titled “Low Back Pain A Call To Action.”

Summary

We have already covered several times that low back pain is now the leading cause of disability globally and is only growing in significance because the global population is living longer. The issue may be more profound in low to middle-income countries. In addition, most low back pain doesn’t even appear to be directly related to any specific trigger or origin.

In many cases, patients are being restricted from attempting resolution of the back pain via conservative approaches such as self-management support, specialized interventions like spinal manipulations (I added that part) and multidisciplinary rehab.

The panel suggests the following:

  1. Address the political aspect. They recommend calling on the World Health Organization to make low back pain one of its priorities by putting it on the target list in an effort to increase attention and decrease treatment that is not recommended initially. They recommend calling on political, medical, and social leaders to make sure public health initiatives are properly funded and geared toward the prevention of low back pain and treatment.
  2. Public health challenge.
    • Change priorities – Make low back pain a priority. Create and implement ways to prevent it and combine these strategies with other strategies that are chronic and somewhat related. Strategies such as weighing the right amount, being active physically, and maintaining good mental health as well. These tactics treat more than simply low back pain. The panel also recommends strategies that can modify the factors putting the population at risk of developing low back pain.
    • Change systems and change practice – Provide early recommendations for maintaining work load as much as possible and/or return to work as quickly as possible. Attempt to ensure early ID of people that are at risk of developing long-term, chronic disability as a result of low back pain. Address co-morbidities raising a person’s risk of developing low back pain and promote a healthier lifestyle in addition to altering disability benefits and get people back to work as soon as possible. And lastly, address low back pain through multidisciplinary rehabilitation in an effort to return the patient to work quickly.
  3. Healthcare challenge –
  • Change culture – The panel appears to me to be promoting the use of a Public Relations campaign to focus and promote living well with low back pain, self-management, staying healthy, and to change the public perception of low back pain.
  • Change clinician behavior – After developing the best evidence-based systems, there will be a need to get everyone on the same team in regards to the way clinicians refer and treat, the patients, as well as the professional journals.
  • Change systems – There is a need to develop and implement systems allowing a patient to receive the right care at the right time. Clinical pathways will need a re-boot and will need to become consistent across interdisciplinary lines and differing clinical settings.
  • Tackle Vested Interests – The panel discusses the fact that governments and insurance companies need to regulate in a manner consistent with evidence-based treatment for low back pain and eliminate conflicts of interest. Regulation through contracts, and payment schedules for treatments with little to no evidence for effectiveness.

The idea that a healthy weight and regular physical activity will help reduce low back pain must enter the global subconscious through public programs, especially in low to middle-income countries.

An assertion I fully agree with the authors on is that, thus far, healthcare dollars have been wasted on treatments that are ineffective and, many times, downright dangerous. The risk vs. reward ration just doesn’t make sense more times than not currently. No too mention the issue of opioid addiction which we all should know the stats on by now.

Boiling it down, the panel aims to get rid of practices that harm and create waste while, at the same time, opening the door to effective and affordable means of treating low back pain to patients in need. The authors are quoted here as saying,”Protection of the public from unproven or harmful approaches to managing low back pain requires that governments and health-care leaders tackle entrenched and counterproductive reimbursement strategies, vested interests, and financial and professional incentives that maintain the status quo.”

The authors promote the idea of implementing a positive health concept as the umbrella idea aiming for prevention of long-term disability. This includes alternative to treatments and cures and promotes more meaningful lives. This truly is a low back pain a call to action recommendation.

Another great quote from this third paper is as follows, “Improved training and support of primary care doctors and other professionals engaged in activity and lifestyle facilitation, such as physiotherapists, chiropractors, nurses, and community workers, could minimize the use of unnecessary medical care.”

The panel also calls for an active monitoring system in order to assess and keep an eye on the recommendations implementation as well as the outcomes of the changes.

To read more for yourself, follow this link to the third paper:

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(18)30488-4/fulltext

If access is unavailable, just simply register at The Lancet. It is completely free of charge.

If you are research minded, if you are a low back pain patient, or if you are a practitioner regularly coming in contact with low back pain patients, it is my opinion that taking the time to read these three papers yourself is of utmost importance.

Please find the links to the papers in the “References” section and get it done. Together, we can make a big, big difference in the lives of our low back pain patients. Without a doubt.

For this week’s next step, go register with The Lancet and get this paper for free! You just have to register. That’s it.

We hope you enjoyed this week’s paper called “Low back pain a call to action.” We’ll go through it bit by bit and hit the highlights for those of you that aren’t into reading research papers and things of that sort. Don’t miss it!

If you love what you hear, be sure to check out www.chiropracticforward.com. As this podcast builds, so will the website with more content, products, and chances to learn.

We cannot wait to connect again with you next week. From Creek Stone, my office here in Amarillo, TX, home of the Chiropractic Forward Podcast flight deck, this is Dr. Jeff Williams saying upward, onward, and forward.

 

Other episodes you may enjoy:

CF 003: Great News: Chiropractic Outpaces Muscle Relaxants

CF 008: With Dr. Craig Benton – Brand New Information Based on Results Chiropractic Proven Effective For Low Back Pain

CF 011: With Dr. Tyce Hergert: It’s Here. New Guides For Low Back Pain That Medical Doctors Are Ignoring

CF 016: Review of The Lancet Article on Low Back Pain (Pt. 1)

CF 017: Pt. 2 – Review of The Lancet Article on Treatment of Low Back Pain

 

 

References:

Paper 1 – “What low back pain is and why we need to pay attention: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(18)30480-X/fulltext

Paper 2 “Prevention and treatment of low back pain: evidence, challenges, and promising directions.”: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(18)30489-6/fulltext

Paper 3 – “Low back pain: a call for action”: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(18)30488-4/fulltext

 

CF 017: Pt. 2 – Review of The Lancet Article on Treatment of Low Back Pain

Review of The Lancet Article: Prevention and treatment of low back pain: evidence, challenges, and promising directions (Part Two)

On the Chiropractic Forward podcast this week, we are going continue a review of a recent paper published on low back pain that we hope will have a powerful impact in the months and years to follow. This week it will be a review of paper #2 from the Lancet series called Prevention and treatment of low back pain: evidence, challenges, and promising directions. 

Before we get started, I want to draw your attention our website at http://www.chiropracticforward.com. Just below the area where you can listen to the latest episode, you’ll see an area where you can sign up for our newsletter. I’d like to encourage you to sign up. It’s just an email about once a week to let you know when the episode is updated and what it’s about. Also, if something brand  new pops up, we’ll be able to tell you about it quickly and easily.

Welcome to the podcast today, you have strolled right into episode 17. I’m Dr. Jeff Williams and I’m your host for the Chiropractic Forward podcast where we talk about issues related to health, chiropractic, evidence, chiropractic advocacy, and research. Thank you for taking time out of your day I know your time is valuable and I want to fill it with value so here we go.

As I mentioned at the top of the show, this week, I want to continue with the series published in The Lancet on March 21, 2018. For a quick re-cap this week…. The Lancet is one of the oldest and most respected medical journals in the world. It has been around since 1823. In addition to the credibility of the journal, this series of papers dealing with Low Back Pain, prevention of low back pain, and treatment of low back pain was compiled and authored by the leading experts on the matter globally. On top of that, the experts were a group of interdisciplinary practitioners which meant they ranged from medical doctors and PhD’s, to physical therapists and chiropractors. 

The three papers were broken down as follows:

  1. What low back pain is and why we need to pay attention.
  2. Prevention and treatment of low back pain: evidence, challenges, and promising directions.
  3. Low back pain: a call for action.

Last week, we reviewed the first of the three papers which was titled, “What low back pain is and why we need to pay attention.” We went through it note by note and section by section trying to strip away the embellishments to simply boil it down to a leisure read and, hopefully, an enjoyable learning process. 

We will do the same this week with the second paper of the series titled, “Prevention and treatment of low back pain: evidence, challenges, and promising directions.”

I want to start this week in the same way we started last week: by discussing how the papers were accomplished. 

How They Did It

For this paper, again titled “Prevention and treatment of low back pain,” the researchers identified scientific studies through searches of databases:

•MEDLINE (PubMed)

•Scopus

•Google Scholar

•African Index Medicus Database

In order to ensure a high-quality standard, systematic reviews were shown preference for inclusion.

Paper 2 Summary:

Recommendations commonly offered for those with low back pain include:

  • Pharmacologic implementation is not typically a first line choice
  • Education supporting self-management
  • Resumption of regular daily activities
  • Resumption of exercise
  • Psychological programs for those with low back pain that tends to linger
  • Limited or non-use of medication
  • Limited or non-use of imaging
  • Limited or non-use of surgery

The authors state that these recommendations for prevention and treatment of low back pain are derived from high-income countries and that they are concentrated on treatment rather than preventative recommendations. 

The authors state there is an inappropriate high usage of the following treatments for low back pain:

  • Spinal injections
  • Imaging
  • Opioids
  • Surgery
  • Rest

In the rest of the paper, the authors identify some promising directions and solutions for treatment of low back pain including the redesign of clinical pathways, an integrated health partnership, and occupational interventions to get workers back when possible.

Prevention

  • A 2016 systematic review with 30,850 adults showed that there was moderate quality evidence that exercise alone, or in combination with education, is effective for prevention of low back pain. 
  • However, the review was mainly for secondary prevention and the exercise program required an intense schedule of twenty 1-hour supervised sessions.
  • A 2014 systematic review with 2700 children that found moderate quality evidence that education is not effective. They also found that ergonomic furniture was likely no more help in preventing low back pain than regular furniture. 

Treatment

The authors cite three studies. The studies come from Denmark, the UK, and the USA. 

  • All three of the studies (Danish, UK and USA) recommend spinal manipulation as an effective treatment of low back pain. The UK study specifically recommends spinal manipulation in conjunction with an exercise protocol. 
  • As my own side note, in America, chiropractors perform 90% of all spinal manipulations. When we are discussing spinal manipulation and it’s role in treating low back pain, it is important to keep in mind which profession is the one being recommended. Although the authors do not come out and recommend chiropractic specifically, when spinal manipulations are recommended, it is a well-known fact that chiropractors are the doctors that are best-equipped to perform the treatment. 
  • Also in the US guidelines, there is a recommendations for the marked reduction of pharmacologic care. 
  • Some key advice coming from these updated recommendations (besides the use of spinal manipulation) is to assure patients they are not suffering from serious disease, that they will indeed improve in time, that they should continue as much movement and exercise as can be tolerated, they should avoid bed rest, and they should get back to work as soon as possible. 
  • The authors recommend physical treatments. Certainly for chronic low back pain which refers to pain lasting longer than 12 weeks. Physical treatments included exercise programs targeting the patients’ abilities, preferences, etc. 
  • The authors stated that passive therapies such as electric stim, interferential, traction, diathermy, and back supports seem to be ineffective. As a side note, it’s strictly anecdotal but this panel of experts are going to have a hard time convincing me traction, when done correctly, is not effective. I’ve seen patients avoid surgery from traction therapy alone.
  • They say new recommendations encourage doctors consider psychological therapies such as cognitive behavior therapies, progressive relaxation therapy, and mindfulness-based stress reduction alone or in combination with other physical and psychological treatment for chronic low back pain with or without radiculopathy having not responded to other treatments. 
  • If the condition persists and the patient is functionally disabled, the authors then recommend multidisciplinary rehab with supervised exercise, cognitive behavior, and medication. 
  • Of course, routine use of opioids is not advised.
  • Recommend no spinal epidural injections or facet joint injections for low back pain
  • Do recommend epidural injections of local anesthetic & steroid for radicular pain, however, as we have discussed before, epidural steroid injections show short-term effectiveness only if they are effective at all and have no influence at all on long-term disability or future need for surgery. In my own research, epidural steroid injections have shown to increase risk of spinal fracture up to 21% after each subsequent injection. 
  • Surgery – the benefits for spinal fusion when the back pain was thought to be due to degenerated discs were about equal to the results gained with intensive multidisciplinary rehab and only a modest improvement over non-surgical treatment. In addition, surgery has obvious downsides like expense, recovery, medication, and the risk of adverse events. However, surgery may be indicated when the patient is suffering severe or progressive neurological symptoms and surgery may be indicated when patients suffer radicular pain, have failed first line treatment, and the symptoms can be traced to via imaging to a disc or stenosis origin. 
  • Ultimately, the authors say, low back pain patients have a tendency to resolve with out without surgical intervention so waiting and trying to avoid surgery is certainly appropriate. 
  • Research dealing with low back pain in children or in low and middle income countries is limited so a lot is unknown for those categories, however, the two studies that actually have been done in low and middle income countries (Brazil and Philippines) have similar results as those in high income countries. 

The global gap between evidence and practice

This section masterfully demonstrates the difference between evidence-based medicine and what is really happening in the real world.

  • They start by stating that low back pain should be managed by primary care practitioners and then go on to list studies showing how it is being managed, in many cases, by emergency rooms, hospitals, and surgeons. 
  • Their next directive is to provide low back pain patients with education and advice on self management and then show how, in the real world, roughly only 20%-23% of practitioners seem to actually do so. 
  • The next directive is for low back pain patients to stay active and get to work or stay at work if possible. They go on to cite research showing how, in the real world, medical professionals are recommending rest and time off work. In India, for example, 46% of physiotherapists recommended rest to low back pain patients and in Brazil, rheumatologist recommended rest. 
  • The next comparison was for the guideline that imaging should only be ordered if the practitioner suspects a specific cause that would guide treatment and case management differing from normal care recommendations. In the USA, for example, from 2010-2013 the rate of imaging the low back with no red flags stayed consistent at 53.7%.  If we thought that was excessive, the authors go on to cite information from India showing 100% of chronic low back pain patients in an orthopedic clinic underwent imaging for non-specific low back pain. Similar results were found through the other studies cited for low and middle income countries. 
  • The next comparison was for the guideline that the first line treatments should be non-pharmacologic. They found that this guideline is not commonly followed citing research for high income countries demonstrating that 64.5% of low back pain patients in Australia from 2000-2010 were prescribed meds on the first visit and, on a personal note, I had a patient here in the USA just this morning with acute low back pain that was prescribed pain meds on the first day. To be fair, his pain is severe but, they are not following guidelines and the meds have had no impact on his level of pain still he continues to take them as ordered. Medication for no effect essentially. In the lower and middle-income countries, the authors cite research showing that in South Africa, 90% of the low back pain patients going to a primary care physician received medication. 
  • The next guideline was that many times, there was advice to avoid electrical physical modalities such as diathermy, etc. In the high-income setting, Swedish physiotherapists recommend transcutaneous stim for low back pain to the tune of 38%, 75% of American PTs use lumbar traction, and a Spanish National Health Service study suggested 38.6% of physical therapy costs were for treatments known to have no effectiveness.
  • The next guide comparison was that the use of opioids is discouraged. The authors go on to cite prescription rates from 2004-2009 and, to be honest, I think the opioid epidemic has likely caused the numbers cited to actually drop. Although opioid addiction is on the rise, it’s my opinion that it is now at the forefront of the national story. With the sort of attention it has demanded, I cannot imagine the numbers staying the same. That is my opinion, of course. 
  • Next guide was that surgery and interventional treatment should be very limited or possibly eliminated for low back pain. In the real world, this is not occurring. In the USA in 2011, spinal fusion was the reason for the most costs of any surgical procedure in the nation. US Medicare covered 2,023,481 epidural injections (a substantial increase from 2000-2011), 990,449 lumbar or sacral facet injections as well as 406,378 lumbar or sacral facet neurotomy treatments, Medicare funded 252,654 sacroiliac joint injections. Two-thirds of Dutch spinal surgeons perform spinal fusion surgeries. 
  • The next guide comparison was that exercise is now recommended for the treatment of chronic low back pain. A 2009 paper the authors cited showed that 54% of Americans with chronic low back pain were not prescribed any exercise as treatment. 
  • The final guide comparison was done for the recommendation that a biopsychosocial framework guide the management for low back pain patients. In the USA, only 12% of chronic low back pain patients had been treated for their diagnosed depression in the year prior and only 8.4% were recommended cognitive behavioral treatment. 

Promising Directions

Implementation of the best available evidence

The authors state here that some of the biggest issues toward implementation of new low back guidelines may be short consultation times, the practitioners having a decreased amount of knowledge on the guides, fear of being sued if missing serious pathology, and an effort to appease patients’ desires and, in my opinion, be the “good guy” in the patients’ eyes. However, the authors explain that there are some examples of successful implementation and that widespread use may be achieved through dispelling existing established practice patterns, repetition of the guides, and finding out what is the most effective and cost-effective treatments. 

The authors suggest integrated education of health-care professionals surmising that such a thing could not only educate & innovate but also break through professional barriers that exist. Professional barriers such as exist between many in the medical field and the chiropractic field. 

Clinical systems and pathways

The authors say that one solution in the treatment of low back pain could be a radical departure from current procedure and move toward a stratified primary care model known as STarT Back. This model is a two-part model with the first part consisting of a questionnaire to help the practitioner identify the patient’s risk of persistent disabling pain. The second part consists of treatments tailored to the patients level of risk according to the first part questionnaire. 

Another option along these lines would be to redesign the entire case management paths from first contact all the way through to the specialized care practitioner. They argue that a current barrier to doing this is the fact that healthcare reimbursements are currently geared toward quantity rather than quality. Two programs the authors cited for examples of promising pathways are Canada’s Saskatchewan Spine Pathway as well as NHS England’s program. 

Integrate health and occupational interventions

The authors argue in this section that healthcare and occupational health interventions need to be considered simultaneously when it comes to patients with low back pain and work disability issues. Return to work commonly happens before the absence of pain. Even hurting, people can still return to work. The authors tend to have a very strong recommendation on never leaving work or returning as quickly as possible. 

Due to very specific examples, I have admittedly glossed over this section to avoid inaccuracies and unintended generalizations. I highly encourage your reading the paper on your own time for accuracy. 

Public health interventions

In this section, the authors are discussing public relations: how to get the word out. How to change public perception of back pain and the treatment of low back pain. They cite a successful campaign in Australia that used television ads with prominent public figures serving as the spokespeople. They felt it was well-funded and was successful in part due to the proper messaging but also due to laws and public policies that supported the campaign. 

Conclusions

The authors admit that even the solutions put forth in this paper are based on relatively limited evidence. The following are quotes from the conclusion:

  • “Focusing on key principles, such as the need to reduce unnecessary health care for low back pain, support people to be active and stay at work, and reform unhelpful patient clinical pathways and reimbursement models, could guide next steps.”
  • “No single solution will be effective, and a collective, global effort will take time, determination, and organization. Without the collaborative efforts of people with low back pain, policy makers, clinicians, and researchers necessary to develop and implement effective solutions, disability rates, and expenditure for low back pain will continue to rise.”

Key Takeaways:

A paper of this size and of this magnitude, and with the level of education of contributors honestly cannot be done complete justice by a review such as this. I admittedly hit the high spots on the treatment of low back pain. I am more focused in some areas than in others. More specific for some topics and more general in others. That is the nature of a summarization and I hope I am allowed that latitude. 

If you are research minded, if you are a low back pain patient, or if you are a practitioner regularly coming in contact with low back pain patients and interested in treatment of low back pain, it is my opinion that taking the time to read these three papers yourself is of utmost importance. 

Please find the links to the papers in the “References” section and get it done. Together, we can make a big, big difference in the lives of our low back pain patients. Without a doubt. 

For this week’s next step, go register with The Lancet and get this paper for free! You just have to register. That’s it. 

Next week we will review the third and final paper of this three paper series. Next week’s paper is called “Low back pain: a call to action.” It will continue with ideas toward treatment of low back pain. We’ll go through it bit by bit and hit the highlights for those of you that aren’t into reading research papers and things of that sort. Don’t miss it!

If you love what you hear, be sure to check out https://www.chiropracticforward.com

As this podcast builds, so will the website with more content, products, and chances to learn.

 

We cannot wait to connect again with you next week. From Creek Stone, my office here in Amarillo, TX, home of the Chiropractic Forward Podcast flight deck, this is Dr. Jeff Williams saying upward, onward, and forward. 

 

Here is the link for Part One of The Lancet Review from last week:

CF 016: Review of The Lancet Article on Low Back Pain (Pt. 1)

CF 014: DEBUNKED: The Odd Myth That Chiropractors Cause Strokes (Part 2 of 3)

 

 

References:

Paper 1 – “What low back pain is and why we need to pay attention: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(18)30480-X/fulltext

Paper 2 “Prevention and treatment of low back pain: evidence, challenges, and promising directions.”: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(18)30489-6/fulltext

Paper 3 – “Low back pain: a call for action”: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(18)30488-4/fulltext

 

CF 016: Review of The Lancet Article on Low Back Pain (Pt. 1)

Low Back Pain: A Major Global Challenge

On the Chiropractic Forward podcast this week, we are going to do a review of The Lancet article on Low Back Pain. It is a recent paper published in march 2018 that we hope will have a powerful impact in the months and years to follow. 

Before we get started with this review of The Lancet article on Low Back Pain, I want to draw your attention our website at https://www.chiropracticforward.com. Just below the area where you can listen to the latest episode, you’ll see an area where you can sign up for our newsletter. I’d like to encourage you to sign up. It’s just an email about once a week to let you know when the episode is updated and what it’s about. Also, if something brand new pops up, we’ll be able to tell you about it quickly and easily.

Welcome to the podcast today, I’m Dr. Jeff Williams and I’m your host for the Chiropractic Forward podcast where we talk about issues related to health, chiropractic, evidence, chiropractic advocacy, and research. Thank you for taking time out of your day I know your time is valuable and I want to fill it with value so here we go with some vital information that we think can build confidence and improve your practice which will improve your life overall. 

You have illegally u-turned into Episode #16 and criminals are welcome so make yourself at home. Again, we are doing a review of The Lancet article on Low Back Pain.

I’ve been battling a head cold and depending on the day, the head cold is winning. I hope you’ll excuse my graveled voice and my nasal presentation. I’ll do my best on this review of The Lancet article on Low Back Pain. 

Those of us that are hungry for new research and the recommendations that arise from the body of literature being constantly created were excited last week about the release of significant reports coming out in a highly respected research journal called The Lancet. 

Founded in 1823, The Lancet is published weekly is is one of the oldest, most respected, and most well-known medical journals in the world so when it was announced a series of papers were to be published in The Lancet having to do with low back pain, as you may imagine, those of us interested in the research world and musculoskeletal complaints were all ears. 

Not only was the article noteworthy due to its being published in The Lancet, but it was also exciting for those of us in the so-called alternative healthcare world because there were several Doctors of Chiropractic sitting on the steering committee for the series of reports. For some reason, chiropractors are still considered by many to be alternative while this group of papers suggest chiropractic may be a lot more than simply “alternative.”

There are a couple of things in my mind that stand out as reasons for such a series of papers. The first being that low back pain has become a major problem globally and show no sign of stopping the growth of it impact. The second reason would be the ineffectiveness of the treatments commonly used or recommended. This includes surgery, epidural steroid injections, and, the most notable of failed treatments, opioids.

The series of Low Back Pain papers were compiled by a team of leading experts on back pain. The team was made up of an international spectrum  of varied backgrounds. They met for a workshop in Buxton, UK, in June, 2016, to start the journey and the process of setting the outline and some sort of structure for each paper. 

It was quite an undertaking from quite the group of experts. This is not a group of papers to be ignored since these authors and researchers are among the best of the best globally. 

The papers were broken down as follows:

      1. What low back pain is and why we need to pay attention.
      2. Prevention and treatment of low back pain: evidence, challenges, and promising directions. 
      3. Low back pain: a call for action

In this article, I will cover the first of the three papers with plans to highlight the next two papers in the coming weeks so be sure to return for those important discussions. 

How They Did It

For this paper, again titled “What low back pain is and why we need to pay attention,” the researchers identified scientific studies through searches of databases:

  • MEDLINE (PubMed)
  • Scopus. 
  • Google Scholar
  • African Index Medicus Database

In this review of The Lancet article on Low Back Pain I think it’s important to re-iterate the authors assertion that, in order to ensure a high-quality standard, systematic reviews were shown preference for inclusion.

Summary of the introduction of the first paper. 

  • Low back pain is now the leading cause of disability worldwide.
  • Only a small percentage have a well-understood, definite cause for their low back pain. Examples of well-known and udnerstood causes are things like a vertebral fracture, malignancy, or infection.
  • Things that seem to raise the risk of having low back pain complaints would be populations that smoke regulary, people that have physically demanding jobs or routine jobs or jobs that keep them mostly sedentary throughout the day and throughout the work week, people with physical and mental issues that add to a low back complaint or contribute to a low back complaint, and overweight/obese people. These populations are all at risk for developing low back pain.
  • 540 million people were affected at any one time globally.
  • A systematic review (3097 participants) found several MRI findings had a reasonably strong association with low back pain, including Modic type 1 change, disc bulge, disc extrusion, and spondylolysis. To further define Modic 1 changes, in regular vertebral endplate bone, the trabeculae shoud be like a type of scaffolding. Within the trabeculae there is red bone marrow producing blood cells. In a Modic type 1, the trabeculae are fractured intermittently and the patterns are more erratic and the marrow is absent. In the marrow’s place now is serum which is the same substance one can find in a blister. 

Symptoms associated with low back pain

Radicular Pain and Radiculopathy

  • Radiculopathy is usually called sciatica and mostly occurs when there is involvement where the nerve root exits the spine.
  • The authors noted that the term sciatica is used inconsistently by doctors and the public in general and should probably be avoided all together. 
  • The diagnosis of radicular pain relies on clinical findings, such as history of dermatomal leg pain, leg pain that is actually worse than the back pain, aggravation of the symptom when bearing down such as in coughing, sneezing, lying on your back and raising heels off of the table or in going from seated to standing, and straight leg raise test. General rule of thumb for an SLR is that pain in the first 30 degrees of leg elevation hints at a disc origin since that is the movement that first starts to tension the nerve at the root.
  • Patients presenting with low back pain in addition to radicular pain or radiculopathy tend to have worse outcomes than those presenting with low back pain alone.

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

  • I tell my patients that the simplest way to explain stenosis is to say that a hole that nerves run through has become smaller and, as a result, the nerves sometimes have pressure on them that can cause them to be somewhat dysfunctional. 
  • Lumbar spinal stenosis is clinically characterized by pain or discomfort with walking or standing that radiates into one or both legs and can be eased resting and almost always by lumbar flexion (neurogenic claudication). They call this the shopping cart sign. Meaning, if a person gets relief from leaning on a shopping cart, it sure may be stenosis. If it is aggravated by leaning back or by inducing a “swayback” type of movement, that sure may be stenosis. As a sidenote and from my own studies, if lumbar extension (or swayback) does not hurt, but then rotation in either direction at the endpoint of lumbar extenstion actually does increase the pain, then the patient is likely suffering from a lumbar facet complaint. 
  • Lumbar stenosis is commonly caused by narrowing of the spinal canal or intervertebral foramina as a result of a combination of degeneration such as facet osteoarthritis, ligamentum flavum hypertrophy, and bulging discs. Two or three of these factors can combine to reduce the size and space available for the neural structures to pass through. Obviously that can create issues.
  • Experts tend to agree that the diagnosis of stenosis requires both the presence of the symptoms in addition to imaging findings demonstrating stenosis.

Other causes of Low Back Pain

  • Vertebral fracture, inflammatory disorders, malignancy, infections, intra-abdominal causes.
  • The US guideline for imaging advises deferral of imaging pending a trial of therapy when there are weak risk factors for cancer or axial spondyloarthritis. What does that mean exactly? That means a trial of conservative care. The authors will delve further into this in the second paper from the Lancet series but I will butt my head in here with the opinion of the American College of Physicians. Their updated recommendations from February of 2017 reflect that doctors should be recommending Chiropractic, massage, and/or ice for acute low back pain and should recommend Chirorpactic, acupuncture, and/or exercise/rehab for chronic low back pain. These recommendations are to precede taking even ibuprofen. 

Prevalence

  • Approximately 40% of 9-18-year olds in high-income, medium-income, and low-income countries report having had low back pain.
  • Low back pain prevalence increased 54% since 1990.
  • It is the number one cause of disability globally

Work Disability

Social Identity & Inequality

  • MacNeela and colleagues reviewed 38 separate qualitative studies in high-income countries. They showed found common traits, including: worry and fear about the social consequences of chronic low back pain, hopelessness, family strain, social withdrawal, loss of job and lack of money, disappointment with health-care encounters (in particular with general practitioners), coming to terms with the pain, and learning self-management strategies.
  • Froud and colleagues reviewed 42 qualitative studies from high-income countries, and found that many people living with low back pain struggled to meet their social expectations and obligations and that achieving them might then threaten the credibility of their suffering, with disability claims being endangered. Sometimes we have to almost force low back patients back into the workforce and, did you know that studies show in general that the sooner people are returned to work, the better they tend to recover from the low back pain complaint?
  • Schofield and colleagues found that individuals who exit the workforce early as a result of their low back pain have substantially less wealth by age 65 years, even after adjustment for education. This is just an obvious statement. It makes sense that people that quit working earlier than 65 end up making less money by the time they reach 65. You can also throw the expense of dealing with a back pain complaint in on top of the loss of wages. 
  • Globally, low back pain contributes to inequality. At first, when I read this, it struck me as being silly. Everything’s about inequality these days isn’t it? Certainlly in America it seems. But, this is a little different when you read through the explanation. The authors go on to say that in low-income and middle-income countries, poverty and inequality might increase as participation in work is affected. In addition, regulations on how to properly re-introduce a person into the workforce are absent, and workers are likely to be placed right back into the job they were originally injured without proper re-introduction. The authors felt this might place more strain on family and community livelihoods.

Cost of Low Back Pain

  • Costs associated with low back pain are commonly tallied as direct medical costs, meaning the cost of the doctor’s bill. They are also tallied in terms of indirect costs; meaning the cost of being out of work and the loss of productivity at the work place.
  • Most studies underestimate the total costs of low back pain
  • Although we do not think of low back pain in these terms yet, the truth is that low back pain, in terms of a real problem as far at the cost to treat and the overall indirect costs, are right up there with the biggest issues the global pupulation faces. Issues such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, mental health, and autoimmune diseases. That’s huge. 
  • In the USA, 44% of the population used at least one complementary or alternative health-care therapy in 1997; and the most common reason was low back pain. with 70,000 plus chiropractors in the United States, I can tell you with some confidence the profession most associated with alternative treatment for low back pain or spinal pain of any sort is chiropractic care. 
  • The USA has the highest costs, attributable to a more medically intensive approach as well as higher rates of surgery compared with other high-income countries. We see patients every week that have gone through needless surgeries. Surgeries for which there is plenty of high-level research proving its ineffectiveness yet you see the popularity for these surgeries continuing to rise. 

Natural History

  • A systematic review (33 cohorts; 11 166 participants) provides strong evidence that most episodes of low back pain improve substantially within 6 weeks, and by 12 months average pain levels are low. However, two-thirds of patients still report some pain at 3 months and 12 months
  • The best evidence suggests around 33% of people will have a recurrence within 1 year of recovering from a previous episode.

Risk Factors and Triggers for Low Back Pain Episodes

      • A systematic review (5165 participants) found consistent evidence that people who have had previous episodes of low back pain are at increased risk of a new episode. Likewise, people with other chronic conditions, including asthma, headache, and diabetes, are more likely to report low back pain than people in good health
      • a UK cohort study found psychological distress at age 23 years predicted incident low back pain 10 years later. The Canadian National Population Health Survey with 9909 participants found that pain-free individuals with depression were more likely to develop low back pain within 2 years than were people without depression
      • systematic reviews of cohort studies indicate that lifestyle factors such as smoking, obesity, and low levels of physical activity that relate to poorer general health are also associated with occurrence of low back pain episodes. We know that obesity and lack of exercise has become an American trait that needs to be reversed. 
      • A systematic review found the genetic influence on the liability to develop low back pain ranged from 21% to 67%, with the genetic component being higher for more chronic and disabling low back pain than for inconsequential low back pain.Don’t we all have patients that present to us claimng that their bad back just runs in the family? Mom and Grandma had a bad back so that must be why they have a bad back is the common sentiment. It seems there may be a bit of validity there. 
      • An Australian case-crossover study (999 participants) showed that awkward postures, heavy manual tasks, feeling tired, or being distracted during an activity were all associated with increased risk of a new episode of low back pain. Similarly, work exposures of lifting, bending, awkward postures, and tasks considered physically demanding were also associated with an increased risk of developing low back pain in low-income and middle-income countries

Psychological Factors

For this review of The Lancet article on Low Back Pain, the presence of psychological factors in people who present with low back pain is associated with increased risk of developing disability even though the mechanisms are not fully understood

Social and Societal Factors

      • Cross-sectional data from the USA (National Health Interview Survey 2009–10, 5103 people) found that those with persistent low back pain were more likely to have had less than high-school education and had an annual household income of less than US$20,000. 
      • Suggested mechanisms for the effect of low education on back pain include environmental and lifestyle exposures in lower socioeconomic groups, lower health literacy, and health care not being available or adequately targeted to people with low education.
      • To go along with lower wages, the lower socioeconomic groups are commonly in routine and manual occupations and ahve increased physical workloads is associated with disabling low back pain

Conclusion

In this review of The Lancet article on Low Back Pain, the authors concluded, “Low back pain is now the number one cause of disability globally. The burden from low back pain is increasing, particularly in low-income and middle-income countries, which is straining health-care and social systems that are already overburdened. Low back pain is most prevalent and burdensome in working populations, and in older people low back pain is associated with increased activity limitation. Most cases of low back pain are short-lasting and a specific nociceptive source cannot be identified. Recurrences are, however, common and a few people end up with persistent disabling pain affected by a range of biophysical, psychological, and social factors. Costs associated with health care and work disability attributed to low back pain are enormous but vary substantially between countries, and are related to social norms, health-care approaches, and legislation. Although there are several global initiatives to address the global burden of low back pain as a public health problem, there is a need to identify cost-effective and context-specific strategies for managing low back pain to mitigate the consequences of the current and projected future burden.”

Key Takeaway:

Obviously, if you followed us all the way through on this review of The Lancet article on Low Back Pain, low back pain is an issue that must be addressed in a more effective way globally and irregardless of national ranking in terms of the economy. Just because it’s musculoskeletal doesn’t mean it can be ignored and kicked to the curb while the big stuff like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer are treated. The research for the big stuff is adequately funded but, honestly, in general, most general practitioners don’t have the first clue of what to do for low back pain. I personally suggest they turn to their own American College of Physicians for updated recommendations on chronic and acute low back conditions if I were them. 

Authors

Steering Committee

Rachelle Buchbinder – Australia

Jan Hartvigsen – Denmark

Dan Cherkin – United States

Nadine Foster – UK

Chris Maher – Australia

Martin Underwood – UK

Maruits van Tulder – Netherlands

For this week’s Next Steps in this review of The Lancet article on Low Back Pain, be sure to send us an email at dr.williams@chiropracticforward.com and let us know what you thought or contribute to the show for next week. We love hearing from you all. Also, go and follow Jan Hartvigsen https://twitter.com/JanHartvigsen, and Chris Maher https://twitter.com/CGMMaher on Twitter. 

Next week we will review the second paper of this three paper series. Next week’s paper is called “Prevention and treatment of low back pain: evidence, challenges, and promising directions.” We’ll go through it bit by bit and hit the highlights for those of you that aren’t into reading research papers and things of that sort. Don’t miss it!

If you love what you hear, be sure to check out www.chiropracticforward.com. As this podcast builds, so will the website with more content, products, and chances to learn. This review of The Lancet article on Low Back Pain is just an example of what you can look forward to.

We cannot wait to connect again with you next week for review of The Lancet article on Low Back Pain Part Two. From Creek Stone, my office here in Amarillo, TX, home of the Chiropractic Forward Podcast flight deck, this is Dr. Jeff Williams saying upward, onward, and forward. 

Be sure to check out part of our Chiropracrtors Cause Strokes Myth. This is a link to Part Two:

CF 014: DEBUNKED: The Odd Myth That Chiropractors Cause Strokes (Part 2 of 3)

References:

CF 008: With Dr. Craig Benton – Brand New Information Based on Results Chiropractic Proven Effective For Low Back Pain

Today’s episode is all about chronic low back pain and some great, brand new research. By now, as I’ve said in the past, even traditional Chiropractor-hating, torch-wielding, quasi-scholastic chiropractic detractors are admitting that, yes, Chiropractic is indeed helpful for low back pain.

If you love what you hear, be sure to check out www.chiropracticforward.com. As the podcast builds, so too will the website content, educational products, webinars, seminars, and speaking dates as they get added.

For now though, it’s time for bumper music!

We will dive into the research in a few minutes but first, I have to introduce my guest this week. His name is Dr. Craig Benton. Dr. Benton is the owner/operator of Benton Chiropractic down in Lampassas, Texas but that’s not where the intro stops. Dr. Benton is the chair of Scientific Affairs for the Texas Chiropractic Association. He is where I have found a healthy percentage of the material that I have covered over the years for my blog, my YouTube videos, and now for the Chiropractic Forward podcast. Dr. Benton has been unknowingly instrumental in keeping me in business and making my life easier.

Welcome to the show Dr. Benton, how is life in Lampassas this week? My first question today is, have you been playing any guitar lately?

Dr. Benton and I are both in active practice. In fact, there’s a chance we may both have a patient show up at any time. That’s how actively we are practicing. I think that’s incredibly important to note because, so many times, you hear podcasts and attend seminars where the guys and gals speaking don’t really know a thing about actively practicing for 20 plus years. I’ve always felt that experience matters. Even when I was young and green. I was well-aware that I didn’t know it all and I’m even more aware of that today than ever.

So Dr. Benton, I’m looking forward to hearing your opinions and insight today.

Since the podcast today is about chronic pain, I think we should begin with a definition of what Chronic really is. When we define “chronic” in the context of neuromusculoskeletal complaints, we define it as being a complaint that is greater than 12 weeks in duration. Right at 3 months. Some patients will come into the office having had a condition for 15-20 years. I tell them that they are more than a little stubborn to have put up with something for so long.

It is common sense that a condition that is chronic will be more difficult to treat. Also, most chronic conditions can be traced back to a biomechanical, neuromusculoskeletal origin. One of my favorite quotes is from Dr. Lee Green, Professor of Family Medicine at the University of Michigan. He said, “Neck pain is a mechanical problem, and it makes sense that mechanical treatment works better than a chemical one.” Although Dr. Green is referring to neck pain in this instance, “low back pain” can easily be substituted. What he says could not make more sense. It’s an easy and very concise way to understand why Chiropractic, manipulation, mobilization is so incredibly effective above and beyond anything else for this sort or issue, including medication.

Do you have a quote or quotes that you love sharing that make sense to you and that help you boil down what it is we chiropractors are doing to help our patients?

I have overhead medical doctors (more than once) talking about having back pain and just injecting themselves with something to try to get over it. If they asked me, I’d tell them that they’re just covering up an underlying trigger or cause and ignoring it is to their detriment.

A good metaphor I came across for using medication for neuromusculoskeletal complaints is that it’s like unplugging a smoke alarm because you don’t like the noise. But, the fire is still slowly growing. What have they done to treat anything in a responsible and effective way? Nothing at all. We tend to live in a society that wants a pill for this and a potion for that so they can get over it and get on with life. But it doesn’t work that way.

Dr. Benton, has this been your experience as well?

Dr. Benton, don’t you treat soldiers through the VA program? Can you tell us all a little bit about that?

Let’s go over some low back pain statistics just we can try to stress the importance of what we’re talking about here. Dr. Benton, please feel free to jump in with anything you’d like to add:

  • Low back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide.
  • 8 out of every ten people will experience back pain. I will admit that I have never met anyone in 45 years of life on this Earth that fit’s into the 20% that apparently never suffers from any low back pain. Dr. Benton….have you ever met anyone that has never had back pain? Is it just me?
  • Back pain is the second most common reason for visits to the doctor’s office right behind upper-respiratory infections.
  • With such gains and leaps in the medical industry as far as treatment goes, low back pain is stubbornly on the rise.
  • More than half of Americans who experience low back pain spend the majority of the work day sitting. 54% to be exact. It’s good to be a chiropractor I guess. Our patients keep us up and moving most of the day.
  • Dr. Benton, did you know that….now…an equal number of patients seek help with a chiropractor first as seek help with a medical practitioner first for back pain? That’s new information to me that I found interesting.
  • Back pain in general costs $100 billion dollars every year when you factor in lost wages, productivity as well as legal and insurance overheads.

Now that we all know more about low back pain, let’s go through some things that may put you at greater risk of suffering from the condition. Dr. Benton, with your experience on the research, stop me if you have anything to add to any of these:

  • Age: as the spine and supporting structures begin to age and decline, the rate of low back pain will understandably increase.
  • Fitness Level: physically active people do not suffer low back pain to at the rate inactive people suffer. A healthy exercise and core building protocol can help reduce symptoms or instances of low back pain.
  • Weight Gain: Being overweight or obese and gaining weight quickly places increased strain on the low back.
  • Pregnancy: This one goes without saying. Pelvic changes and weight gain both contribute.
  • Genetics: Some forms of arthritis or other systemic conditions are genetic in nature
  • Work: Jobs that include heavy labor and or twisting or expose people to vibration consistently can be problematic. Jobs that require long periods of sitting in a chair can be equally problematic.
  • Mental health factors: Many people are able to deal with chronic pain but anxiety and depression are conditions that can cause a person to focus on the pain which tends to raise the perceived severity and significance for the person suffering from the condition. Dr. Benton, have you come across any patients that fit this description in your practice?
  • Improper backpack use: Kids suffer back pain needlessly since they are not traditionally in an age range we would consider to be a risk factor. However, backpacks used improperly are a common culprit. A backpack should never be more than 15%-20% of a child’s weight and should be carried on both shoulders with the bottom being at or about waste level.

What does the research say?

As I’m sure Dr. Benton will agree…..the research says a lot, to be honest. In fact, I’d say that there’s more research for the effectiveness of manipulation/mobilization in low back pain than for any other conditions chiropractors commonly treat. Am I out of bounds here Dr. Benton?

The research shows Chiropractic beating general practitioners in effectiveness as well as cost. The research shows Chiropractic beating common medications prescribed for low back pain. The research shows Chiropractic beating physical therapy and exercise alone. The research shows Chiropractic beating epidural spinal injections for low back pain. And the two of us can point you to randomized controlled trials proving it. Basically, the research is clear.

In January of 2018, a brand new research paper dealing with manipulation and mobilization was published in Spine Journal by Ian Coulter, PhD et. al. titled “Manipulation and mobilization for treating chronic low back pain: a systematic review” and funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

Now, to be clear, Spine Journal sounds a little bit like it may be a Chiropractic publication for those of you that don’t commonly read research abstracts…… but it is not.

Dr. Benton, can you describe Spine Journal for us?

Here’s why the authors took this project on.

The authors of the paper stated that there remained questions about manipulation and mobilization efficacy, the proper dosing of the techniques, how safe they are, as well as how they compare to other treatment protocols commonly used for chronic low back pain.

I have to say that I had no remaining questions regarding really ANY of those topics but it seems that these authors did.

Dr. Benton, again, please feel free to jump in anywhere you’d like as we go through the hows, why’s and the what’s here.

Here’s How They Did It

  • This paper was a systematic review and meta-analysis.
  • They searched databases for relevant studies from January 2000-March 2017
  • They chose randomized controlled trials that compared manipulation or mobilization to sham treatment, no treatment, other therapies, and multimodal therapeutic approaches.
  • They assessed the risk of bias using the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network.
  • Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE) was applied to determine the confidence in effect estimates.
  • 51 trials were included

What They Found

  • Within 7 of those trials on manipulation and/or mobilization there was reduction of disability when compared to other forms of therapy.
  • Further analyses showed that manipulation specifically was responsible for significant reduction in pain and disability when put up against therapies such as exercise and physical therapy.
  • Mobilization was also was significantly more effective when compared to exercise regimens for pain reduction but not for disability.

Wrap It Up

In the conclusion of the paper abstract, the authors say, “There is moderate-quality evidence that manipulation and mobilization are likely to reduce pain and improve function for patients with chronic low back pain; manipulation appears to produce a larger effect than mobilization. Both therapies appear safe.”

As I’ve said many times, “a lot of research in your favor becomes fact.” Chiropractic has A LOT of research in its favor.

Dr. Benton, would you like to add any final thoughts?

I’d like to thank Dr. Benton for taking the time to be with us today. He really is one of the guys out here in the real world trying his best to help change things for Chiropractors in Texas and in the world.

I want to finish off by saying that when Chiropractic is at its best, you cannot beat the risk vs reward ratio. Plain and simple.

Just another reason to call a chiropractor TODAY!

Research and clinical experience shows that, in about 80%-90% of headaches, neck, and back pain, compared to the traditional medical model, patients get good or excellent results with Chiropractic. It’s safe, more cost-effective, decreases chances of surgery, and reduces chances of becoming disabled. We do this conservatively and non-surgically and do it with minimal time requirements and hassle on the part of the patient. And, if the patient develops a “preventative” mindset going forward, we can likely keep it that way while raising the general, overall level of health!

Please feel free to send us an email at dr dot williams at chiropracticforward.com and let us know what you think or what suggestions you may have for us for future episodes. Please remember, we need your help to spread the word and grow this podcast. If you would help us out by sharing our podcast information, our website, and social media entities, we would greatly appreciate your help.

We cannot wait to connect again with you next week. From Creek Stone here in Amarillo, TX, home of the Chiropractic Forward Podcast flight deck, this is Dr. Jeff Williams saying upward, onward, and forward.

Research Citation:

Coulter I, et. al. “Manipulation and mobilization for treating chronic low back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis” The Spine Journal, Volume 0 , Issue 0 ,

https://www.thespinejournalonline.com/article/S1529-9430(18)30016-0/fulltext

 

CF 003: Great News: Chiropractic Outpaces Muscle Relaxants

Great News: Chiropractic Outpaces Muscle Relaxants

Hey hey, Dr. Jeff Williams with the Chiropractic Forward podcast coming to you directly from the flight deck at Creek Stone Care in icey Amarillo, TX and you have stumbled head first into Episode numero 3.

Welcome welcome, this week we’re going to be talking about people that I believe may be related to unicorns because I can’t hardly believe they exist, we’ll talk about something I pondered while in the shower, and we’ll talk about what research has to say about low back pain, muscle relaxants, and chiropractic care.

I like to be an honest person so I’m just going to speak directly here and say that….I have yet to get the hang of the whole podcast thing but, I’m at least screwing it up regularly and consistency is half the battle I’m told. We’re going to have more fun than chopping wood and I firmly believe it. If you believe it, it must be true. What’s the saying? Perception is reality? I sometimes enjoy living in my own reality to tell the truth. Who doesn’t?

Speaking of unbelievable, Did yo u know that you are 75% to 85% likely to experience low back pain in your lifetime? Those are some pretty good odds. Or, bad, odds depending on how you look at it. That’s where the unicorn reference comes in here. I have a hard time believing these people exist.

By the way, I’d like to meet the 15%-25% that don’t have back pain. Wouldn’t you? Maybe these folks have been marked by God for greatness that just can’t be achieved if they’re suffering from back pain. They’re the ones looking at everyone else like, “What the heck is wrong with you people?”

How do you make it through a lifetime without back pain? That just doesn’t seem right to me. Someday, I plan on having a talk with God about this deal. I’m kind of mad about it.

Believe it or not, I remember life without back pain. I specifically remember being a kid, taking a hot shower, and thinking about adults that always gripe about back pain. I had recently heard an adult talking about how standing in a hot shower made their back feel better so that’s what made me think about it.

I thought, “That must really stink to always be hurting like that.” Well then I was smart enough to play college football and go to chiropractic school where chiropractors get to use each other as guinea pigs to learn how to help others. Yes, you could say I donated my body to science in a way. Regardless of the reasons, I am well-acquainted with the occasional back  pain. It has been intense a few times. To the point of crawling to the bathroom because I couldn’t walk to get there. It’s been years since that was the case but I certainly have empathy for my patients that come through the doors like that. It can be pure misery and it’s no wonder at all why people would look to medication for a quick fix for such intense, non-stop pain. If I’m being honest, when I remember that pain, I would be be looking for anything and everything to make it stop too.

Here’s the problem though: there arebut a few things that can help immediately. The good news here is that Chiropractic is one of the very BEST answers for this issue. The even better news is that the American Medical Association and the American College of Physicians now agree with me on this as of 2017.

That leads us into this article’s source material which is a research paper by KT Hoiriis called “A randomized clinical trial comparing chiropractic adjustments to muscle relaxants for subacute low back pain.” It was published in the Journal of Manipulative Physiological Therapeutics in July-August issue in 2004 and can be found on pages 388-398.

Why They Did It

Considering the fact that we are almost all going to suffer from low back pain at some point in our lives and considering the fact that acute pain will generally resolve and chronic pain is tough to treat, the authors of this paper were interested in trying to assess the reponsiveness of SUBacute low back pain to different treatments available. The treatment the authors chose to compare were Chiropractic treatments vs. muscle relaxants and placebo.

How They Did It

  • The platform chosen by the researchers was a randomized, double-blind clinical trial. It is high-quality information when done with this sort of design.
  • They chose 192 patients that had suffered low back pain for a time period of between 2 and 6 weeks in duration.
  • The patients were randomly split into three different groups for the purpose of the project.
  • They each underwent 2 weeks of treatment. One group with Chiropractic, one with muscle relaxants, and one with placebo.
  • The Outcome Assessments were performed through the use of the Visual Analog Scale (VAS), the Oswestry Disability Questionnaire, and the Modified Zung Depression Scale.
  • These assessments were performed at the beginning of treatment (baseline), at two weeks, and at the conclusion of the treatment which was at the four week mark.
  • In addition to the Assessments previously mentioned, Schobers’s flexibility test, acetaminophen usage, and the Global Impression of Severity Scale (GIS) were assessed at the 2 week mark and at the 4 week mark.

What They Found

  • The baselines were essentially the same in all of the Outcome Assessments except for in the Global Impression of Severity Scale.
  • The subjects that actually finished the trial, 146 in all, had their data combined revealing pain, disability, depression, and the Global Impression of Severity Scale had ALL decreased significantly while flexibility for the low back was not altered.
  • Statistical differences through the groups showed that the chiropractic patients improved more than the control group and in terms of the Global Impression of Severity Scale, the chiropractic patients also improved more than the placebo group AS WELL AS the muscle relaxants group.

Wrap It Up

Chiropractic was more beneficial than placebo in reducing pain and more beneficial than either placebo or muscle relaxants in reducing GIS.

While this is good news from 2004, there are studies subsequent to this one showing how Chiropractic outpaces medication in the treatment of low back pain. These are part of the reason that they American Medical Association and the American College of Physicians recently published articles and papers recommending Chiropractic as first-line treatment for acute and chronic low back pain before even taking acetaminophen or aspirin. That’s huge folks.

Source Material

Hoiriis KT, et. al., “A randomized clinical trial comparing chiropractic adjustments to muscle relaxants for subacute low back pain.” J Manip Physiol Ther. 2004 Jul-Aug;27(6):388-98.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15319761

Just another reason to call a chiropractor TODAY!

https://www.amarillochiropractor.com/evidence-backed-reason-add-chiropractic/

 

I want you to be sure you know all about our blog and our YouTube channel. Currently, we have these entities set up under Creek Stone Integrated Care. Now, with the building of the Chiropractic Forward podcast site, how’s that going to change and how’s that going to look? I haven’t figured that part out just yet but know this, you can get your fix on all things chiropractically researched by going to amarillochiropractor.com and clicking on the blog button. Or, you can visit our youtube channel by searching Creek Stone Integrated Care in the YouTube search

Be looking for our upcoming website at chiropracticforward.com. It is not ready but it will be soon enough.

Thank you for listening. You know, sharing is caring and that’s how we get to more and more ears. If you like what you hear and you know other chiropractors or medical field professionals…..or even potential chiropractic patients….make sure  you share our podcast with them. Together we can make a difference and help people get off of medication, get out of pain, and get healthier overall.

I’m Dr. Jeff Williams from the Chiropractic Forward Flight deck saying upward, onward, and forward  .