Lumbar Herniation

The Failure Of Lumbar Fusion Surgery

CF 160: The Failure Of Lumbar Fusion Surgery

Today we’re going to be talking all about lumbar fusion surgery and my growing disdain for the procedure. 

But first, here’s that sweet sweet bumper music

 

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

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

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

If you haven’t yet I have a few things you should do. 

  • Like our Facebook page, 
  • Join our private Facebook group and interact, and then 
  • go review our podcast on iTunes and other podcast platforms. 
  • We also have an evidence-based brochure and poster store at chiropracticforward.com
  • While you’re there, join our weekly email newsletter. 

You have found yourself smack dab in the middle of Episode #160

Now if you missed last week’s episode, we talked about setting yourself apart in the way you treat migraines. This was an excellent episode that has no choice but to make you better. Make sure you don’t miss that info. Keep up with the class. 

On the personal end of things…..

I watched an ESPN 30 For 30 the other night. It was on Jim Valvano and his North Carolina State Wolfpack that won the national championship in basketball in 1983 I believe. It was such an unlikely story and some of his techniques were a bit wonky. 

For example, he used to make the team practice cutting down the nets from the goals after winning the championship. Far before it was ever even in the realm of possibility. The players said that was more than a little weird at first but that they came to enjoy it and it was just a part of goal-setting and visualizing. 

Visualization is such a big part of a mental process we can, and should, partake in. I myself forget to think to do it. Even though I know how impactful visualization can be. 

I can give you a personal example where visualization came in handy for me. I was a mediocre discus and shot put thrower in high school. OK, probably above average to be honest but I don’t want to pump my own tires too much. 

I ended up my junior year at 150’. That throw might win district but won’t do a lot for a guy at a regional meet. 

When my senior year came around, in the early Spring, I began getting recruited by a lot of colleges. Mostly DII colleges. One of the coaches recruiting me knew about my discus and shot put throwing. He recommended a book. It was called Peak Performance: Mental Training Techniques Of The world’s Greatest Athletes by Charles A. Garfield. 

This book was about relaxation and visualization techniques of the top athletes in the world. It was like nothing I’d ever read. Now, this was back in 1990. They may have improved visualization and relaxation techniques since then but I’m telling you, this book punted me into a different stratosphere on this stuff. I’ll put a link to it on biblio.com in the show notes for this episode. Go check it out. 

https://www.biblio.com/book/peak-performance-mental-training-techniques-worlds/d/1362768092?aid=frg&currency_id=1&gclid=Cj0KCQiAlsv_BRDtARIsAHMGVSZ40_eKAIMbAHTRPRIUrdGXJN5c6n4SG74XgCEYiPpihaJGbuny2QgaAmgHEALw_wcB

Anyway, while I was throwing in the low 160s in the discus and low 50-foot range in the shot put, when I got this book it was toward the middle of the season so it was a bit rushed. But I dove in immediately. 

Within two weeks I was at 168’ and then at the end of the season, I won state in Texas (not an easy feat with a state of 25 million people)  with a personal meet best of 176’ 4 1/2 inches. I beat my best throw of my junior year by 26’. Not only that but I went to state in the shot put. Most definitely my weak event and threw my personal best there. It was my best throw by about a foot which is a huge jump in that event ending up at 55’. Just a couple of inches from our school record. Not an accomplishment that would have ever happened without this book. 

i apologize. I went out on a tangent a bit there but I’m talking about this book and this visualization topic because it’s real and I know it can make a difference in your life and your practice. 

Listeners of this podcast know I’m not a hippy-dippy kind of dude. This isn’t a hippy-dippy thing. It’s real and I’ve experienced it. This book is meant for business as well. I encourage you to check it out yourself. 

That 30 For 30 is my favorite. It’s very inspiring and he has some great quotes in the show. You can Google his quotes as well to save some time. But, in one part, he was quoting Ralph Waldo Emerson and the quote was, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”

For many of us, 2020 and COVID stole our enthusiasm. If you take Emerson at his word here, then that would mean that 2020 and COVID also stole our greatness. 

I want to encourage the listeners of the Chiropractic Forward Podcast to get your enthusiasm back. Get your greatness back. Do it right now. Make it a priority. Make it a foundation of your practice this month and let’s see what happens. 

Pass it down to your staff. Keep them pumped up. Even when or if numbers are down. My numbers are down. I’ve made no secret about that. But around here, we’re going to make enthusiasm a key ingredient of our values. Along with honesty, integrity, ethics, love, fun, and being evidence-based and patient-centered. When we add enthusiasm into that mix, I think we have a winning concoction. 

This discussion portion was meant to only deal with enthusiasm but I got to talking about Jimmy V and his visualization efforts and like an ADD guy, I saw a squirrel and just went that direction. Thank you for indulging me. I hope you found something helpful in it all. 

 em today. I first want to say that I am not against surgery for the right person and the right issue. If it’s needed and the last resort, well why the hell not? But a stat I came across a year or so ago said that out of the 56 million back pain sufferers in our country, only about 5% of them actually, truly, clinically need surgery. 

Then, as you’ll see, when you have something as invasive and impactful on life as lumbar fusion being performed so often with no improved overall outcomes on the back end of it all….well, don’t you have to be responsible and step back and take another look at that and ask yourself, what are we as surgeons doing this for, and should we continue?

Item #1

This first one today is called “Is Lumbar Fusion Necessary for Chronic Low Back Pain Associated with Degenerative Disk Disease? A Meta-Analysis” by Xu et. al. (Xu W 2020) and published in World Neurosurgery on November 27, 2020. 

Hot potato, hot potato, get ‘em while they’re good and hot!

Why They Did It

The authors wanted to evaluate the efficacy and safety of lumbar fusion versus nonoperative care for the treatment of chronic low back pain associated with degenerative disk disease.

Remember this is a meta-analysis. It’s right up there at the top of the research pyramid with systematic reviews. Meaning….it’s good stuff.

How They Did It

  • They did a comprehensive duplicate electronic database search that included PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Library, and China National Knowledge Infrastructure. 
  • They took studies published up to June 30, 2020
  • The main outcomes including clinical results, complications, and all-cause additional surgeries were presented in the form of short and long-term follow-up results. 
  • Six prospective studies involving 159 patients for short-term follow-up and 675 for long-term follow-up were included.

What They Found

  • The 2 interventions exhibited little difference in regard to short- and long-term Oswestry Disability Index and visual analog scale scores for back and leg pain, 
  • Lumbar fusion might bring about lower additional surgery rate 
  • Lumbar fusion might bring about a higher complication rate in the long term.

Wrap It Up

“The present meta-analysis determined that fusion surgery was no better than nonoperative treatment in terms of the pain and disability outcomes at either short- or long-term follow-up. It is necessary for clinicians to weigh the risk of complications associated with fusion surgery against additional surgeries after nonoperative treatment. Considering lax patient inclusion criteria in the existing randomized clinical trials, the result needs to be further confirmed by high-quality research with stricter selection criteria in the future.”

So, since we know systematic reviews and meta-analyses are like computers, then we know that they are only as good as the data you put into it. What you put into it determines what you get out of it. If they haven’t done a lot of quality research on low back fusions, well then they won’t have a lot of good quality information to assemble a meta-analysis. Right? 

When we look at 6 studies with 159 patients for the short-term part and we have 675 patients for the long-term…..I’m not a researcher but, to me, that sure doesn’t seem like a huge sample size. Certainly not when you consider the number of lumbar fusions happening around the world every single day. For such an expensive and invasive surgery, you’d sure think there’d be more to go on out there for a project like this. Is it just me?

CHIROUP ADVERTISEMENT

Item #1 was a new paper. Now I want to re-visit a couple of papers we have covered on the podcast before. One in episode 144 and one all the way back in Episode 54. 

Item #2

Item #2 is titled “Lumbar Spine Fusion: What Is The Evidence?” by Harris et. al(Harris I 2018). and published in the Journal of Internal Medicine in 2018. 

Basically, in this paper, they say that lumbar spinal fusion is common and associated with the high cost and a risk of serious adverse events. They state that they aim to summarize systematic reviews on the effectiveness of lumbar spine fusion for most diagnoses. 

Of important note is where they say that they found NO high-quality systematic reviews and the risk of bias of the randomized controlled trials they found was generally high. For something as serious as lumbar fusion surgery. Where they cut into the body, take two vertebrae that usually aren’t unstable on each other, and then drive screws into them and affix hardware to fuse them together forever and ever amen. 

No high-quality systematic reviews for lumbar fusion surgery and the RCTs out there generally carry a high risk of bias. 

Doesn’t that just give you a warm fuzzy feeling inside when a surgery like lumbar fusion doesn’t have a lot backing it?

They go on to say that the available evidence doesn’t support a clinical benefit from lumbar fusion surgery compared to non-operative treatment or stabilization without fusion for thoracolumbar burst fractures. 

They say that surgical intervention for metastatic carcinoma of the spine associated with spinal cord compromise improves mobility and neurological outcome. That was based on a single trial. 

Item #3

This one we covered in episode 144 is called, “Surgery for chronic musculoskeletal pain: the question of evidence” authored by Harris et. al(Harris IA 2020). and published in Pain Journal in September of 2020.

Why They Did It 

They say that globally, the most common reasons surgery is performed relate to the musculoskeletal system, and outside of injury, the most common reasons pertain to arthritis and back or neck pain. AKA – chronic pain. Chronic pain has become a special interest of mine after going through the orthopedic diplomat last year. It’s fascinating. 

They say, “Although the surgical treatment of chronic pain generally relies on attributing pain to objective, often visible changes on imaging studies, the causes of chronic pain are more complex and are strongly influenced by psychosocial factors.” 

Things like Yellow Flags. Go look up yellow flags and Annie O’Connor’s book called World Of Pain please and thank you.  Annie will be speaking at the Texas Chiropractic Association’s Winter Conference on March 5-6. I encourage you to be watching out on www.chirotexas.org for more info because you’ll be able to take this seminar from anywhere in the world. And I recommend you do because my hero, Dr. Anthony Nicholson from Australia will be one of the presenters. Dr. Carlo Amendolia, I will be a speaker at this thing, Dr. Brandon Steele, and Dr. Jay Greenstein as well. This is quite the conference getting put together, folks. So make your plans. 

They say that surgeries like debridement of degenerative joints and things of that nature ignore the complexity of chronic pain. They look at surgery as purely mechanistic in nature with little to no involvement otherwise and the procedures often rely on observational evidence only, rather than rigorous, comparative trials.  

In addition, they say that when the trials have actually been performed for these surgeries have been mostly subjective and measurements are usually not blinded to reduce the bias of the outcomes.  

Who really wants to go under the knife for anything other than having a mole cut off when the procedures have not been thoroughly investigated, researched, and tested? 

Uh hell no. No thank you. 

This paper was written to demonstrate that observational evidence is not adequate when you consider the costs and risks of surgical intervention. They advocate that surgical procedures should undergo randomized controlled trials with blinding and showing statistical and clinically important symptomatic improvement when compared to no surgery at all.  

Well no duh. Who on Earth would put something into widespread use….surgically that is…..without doing their due diligence through research? Well…..evidently everyone in the medical profession from this.  

Ultimately in this paper, the goal here was to quantify what kind of support exists in the literature for some common procedures.  

How They Did It

  • The first thing to do was to identify the common procedures performed for chronic pain
  • Secondly, they had to identify the number of published RCTs comparing each procedure to a control group treated without that procedure
  • They did a search of the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials
  • Each paper was reviewed by two independent authors

What They Found

  • A very low proportion of the RCTs on the selected procedures compared the procedure to not performing the procedure. 64 from the more than 6,735 studies. Less than 1% if you’re keeping track. Is that not stunning? And infuriating?
  • Of those 64, only 9 were favorable to surgery. 
  • When considering individual surgical procedures, the majority of comparative trials did not favor surgery 
  • None of the studies using patient blinding for any procedure found it to be significantly better than not having the surgery at all. 

Wrap It Up We conclude that many common surgical procedures performed for musculoskeletal conditions causing chronic pain have not been subjected to randomized trials comparing them to not performing the procedure. 

Based on the observation that when such studies have been performed, only 14% (on average) showed a statistically significant and clinically important benefit to surgery; there is a need to produce such high-quality evidence to determine the effectiveness of many common surgical procedures.  

Furthermore, the production of high-quality evidence should be a requirement before widespread implementation, funding or professional acceptance of such procedures, rather than the current practice of either performing trials after procedures have become commonplace, or not performing comparative trials at all.” 

Wouldn’t you like to know that your mom’s spinal surgery procedure was fully vetted? It was researched against not doing it at all? They haven’t done that? 

Make memes and/or infographics from the sound bites I’ve given you here. You can use all of this stuff if you have a little imagination. 

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

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

Store

Remember the evidence-informed brochures and posters at chiropracticforward.com. 

Subscribe Button

The Message

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

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

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

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

Key Point:

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

That’s Chiropractic!

Contact

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

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

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

Connect

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

Website

Home

Social Media Links

https://www.facebook.com/chiropracticforward/

Chiropractic Forward Podcast Facebook GROUP

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1938461399501889/

Twitter

YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtc-IrhlK19hWlhaOGld76Q

iTunes

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/chiropractic-forward-podcast-chiropractors-practicing/id1331554445?mt=2

Player FM Link

https://player.fm/series/2291021

Stitcher:

https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/the-chiropractic-forward-podcast-chiropractors-practicing-through

TuneIn

https://tunein.com/podcasts/Health–Wellness-Podcasts/The-Chiropractic-Forward-Podcast-Chiropractors-Pr-p1089415/

About the Author & Host

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

 

 

Bibliography

  • Harris I, T. A., Stanford R, (2018). “Lumbar spine fusion: what is the evidence?” Internal Med J.
  • Harris IA, S. V., Mittal R, Adie S, (2020). “Surgery for chronic musculoskeletal pain: the questions of evidence.” Pain 161(9): S95-S103.
  • Xu W, R. B., Luo W, Li Z, Gu R, (2020). “Is Lumbar Fusion Necessary for Chronic Low Back Pain Associated with Degenerative Disk Disease? A Meta-Analysis.” World Neurosurg 146: 298-306.

Current Knowledge On A Robust Low Back Pain Diagnosis

CF 125: Current Knowledge On A Robust Low Back Pain Diagnosis Today we’re going to talk about picking apart a Lumbar pain diagnosis. What’s the latest information according to research? But first, here’s that sweet sweet bumper music    
Chiropractic evidence-based products

Integrating Chiropractors

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Screen-Shot-2018-07-12-at-10.23.22-AM-150x55.jpg

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Screen-Shot-2018-07-12-at-10.23.33-AM-150x55.jpg

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Screen-Shot-2018-07-12-at-10.23.09-AM-150x55.jpg
OK, we are back and you have found the Chiropractic Forward Podcast where we are making evidence-based chiropractic fun, profitable, and accessible while we make you and your patients better all the way around.  We’re the fun kind of research. Not the stuffy, high-brow kind of research. We’re research talk over a couple of beers. I’m Dr. Jeff Williams and I’m your host for the Chiropractic Forward podcast.   Today, I want to use a current paper from November on low back pain and diagnosing it correctly. I’m going to use the paper as the main source of info here but I’m going to be peppering in my own learning as a Fellow of the International Academy of Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine. I’m a nerd when it comes to the low back for whatever reason. Maybe because its the best researched of the conditions we treat. I don’t know. But I nerd out of this stuff and, if you follow along, by the end of today’s episode, you should be able to raise your low back diagnosis game considerably.    Item #1 This one is called “Current evidence for the diagnosis of common conditions causing low back pain; systematic review and standardized terminology recommendations” by Robert Vining, et. al(Vining R 2019). and published in Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics in November of 2019……hot enough, here we go.  Why They Did It The purpose of this systematic review was to evaluate and summarize current evidence for the diagnosis of common conditions causing low back pain and to propose standardized terminology use. How They Did It
  • A systematic review of the scientific literature was conducted from inception through December 2018
  • Electronic databases searched included PubMed, MEDLINE, CINAHL, Cochrane, and Index to Chiropractic Literature
  • Of the 3995 articles screened, 36 (8 systematic reviews and 28 individual studies) met final eligibility criteria
  • Diagnostic criteria for identifying likely discogenic, sacroiliac joint, and zygapophyseal (facet) joint pain are supported by clinical studies using injection-confirmed tissue provocation or anesthetic procedures
  • Diagnostic criteria for myofascial pain, sensitization (central and peripheral), and radicular pain are supported by expert consensus–level evidence
  • Criteria for radiculopathy and neurogenic claudication are supported by studies using combined expert-level consensus and imaging findings.
What They Found
  • The absence of high-quality, objective, gold-standard diagnostic methods limits the accuracy of current evidence-based criteria and results in few high-quality studies with a low risk of bias
  • These limitations suggest practitioners should use evidence-based criteria to inform working diagnoses rather than definitive diagnoses for low back pain
Let’s dive in a bit, shall we? Discogenic pain, they say provocation discography is the diagnostic reference standard test used to confirm discogenic pain but it costs a lot, it’s not well standardized and there are some pretty significant risks of adverse effects. So the authors are recommending the centralization phenomenon as an office-based test to try to confirm discogenic pain. I’d add a few other signs of the pain being disc in nature. Here are a few off the top of my head:
  • The patient locates their pain axially and at L5 or above, not laterally
  • You cannot typically provoke the pain when pressing P to A on the segment
  • Walking helps
  • The Slump Test is highly useful here
  • Pain on coughing or sneezing or going from seated to standing
  • Pain that is worse sitting and better when lying down
  • Pain that can be centralized or peripheralized
  • Diminished motor, sensory, or reflexes
  • About 40% of low back pain patients under the age of 50 are discs
  • And pain that radiates beyond the knee
Myofascial Pain – They recommend myofascial pain be defined as nociceptive signaling from within muscle or fascial tissues that may or may not include referred pain or the presence of trigger points. Diagnostic criteria consistent with this definition include tenderness within a muscle with or without referred pain and reproduction of familiar pain with palpation or use. SI Joint Pain – Despite the existence of numerous provocation tests designed to identify SI joint pain, current scientific evidence does not support the diagnostic utility of individual tests. I can agree with that. Therefore, they say that SI anesthetic injections or blocks are the current diagnostic standard but of course, we don’t do that do we? No, we test the SI joints in several different ways and try to have a consensus. 
  • SI joint pain prevalence is about 22.5% of your low back patients
  • Fortin’s finger test raises your suspicion considerably
  • Walking hurts
  • Seated to standing usually hurts
  • For a robust diagnosis of SI, you should have 3 of the following 5 positive tests. 
  • Sacroiliac compression test
  • Distraction / gapping test
  • FABER test
  • Gaenslen’s test
  • Thigh thrust
Facet Joint Pain – They point out a study by Laslett et. al. saying a reporting of 3 out of 5 findings is sufficient to make a facet dx. They are:
  • Patient over 50
  • Paraspinal pain
  • Relieved with walking
  • Relieved with sitting
  • Positive extension/rotation
I will add to that list that facet joints constitute roughly 30% of your low back patients. The extension/rotation test is important. If it’s positive, it can still be something other than facets. But, if it’s negative, it’s almost certainly NOT a facet. Get that again, if extension/rotation is NOT positive, it’s almost certainly NOT facet.  In addition, you can push paraspinal on the patient and provoke the pain whereas, as mentioned, with a disc, you cannot provoke it by palpation.  Typically, long-lever activities are bothersome. Things like vacuuming, doing the dishes, or folding laundry. Anything that involves being slightly bent forward for a period of time.  Stenosis – They say “Neurogenic claudication occurs when spinal stenosis is severe enough to cause symptoms from intermittent neural compression or ischemia, most commonly from degenerative changes within the spine.” They say they “recommend diagnostic criteria reported by Nadeau et al. Which are symptoms triggered with standing, relieved by sitting, symptoms above the knees, and positive shopping cart sign.” For me here in my clinic, I use the protocol Carmen Amendolia created and validated through research. It’s been highly effective for us and our patients.  Piriformis Syndrome Current diagnostic criteria are available only through a systematic review of clinical features reported in the scientific literature: 
  1. ipsilateral leg radiation, 
  2. (2) greater sciatic notch tenderness, 
  3. (3) buttock pain, 
  4. (4) positive SLR, and 
  5. (5) pain with sitting
I would add that resisted external rotation could give you a hint. Put your hands on the lateral sides of the patient’s knees bilaterally. Then tell the patient to try to spread their legs while you resist. It’s painful, you have another very simple hint that you may be dealing with a piriformis issue.  So there you have it with my own learning from the neuromusculoskeletal diplomate program salted and peppered in for a good robust discussion. Yes, there are other considerations like lumbar sprain strain and things like that but these are the biggies.  If you weren’t before, you should be well-equipped after this episode to kill it on a low back diagnosis.  Alright, that’s it. Y’all be safe. Continue taking care of yourselves and taking care of your neighbors. Tough times are upon us but, the sun will shine again. Trust it, believe it, count on it. Let’s get to the message. Same as it is every week.  Key Takeaways Store Remember the evidence-informed brochures and posters at chiropracticforward.com.   
Chiropractic evidence-based products

Integrating Chiropractors

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Screen-Shot-2018-07-12-at-10.23.22-AM-150x55.jpg

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Screen-Shot-2018-07-12-at-10.23.33-AM-150x55.jpg

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Screen-Shot-2018-07-12-at-10.23.09-AM-150x55.jpg
  The Message I want you to know with absolute certainty that when Chiropractic is at its best, you can’t beat the risk vs reward ratio because spinal pain is primarily a movement-related pain and typically responds better to movement-related treatment rather than chemical treatments like pills and shots. When compared to the traditional medical model, research and clinical experience show us patients can get good to excellent results for headaches, neck pain, back pain, and joint pain to name just a few. It’s safe and cost-effective can decrease surgeries & disability and we do it through conservative, non-surgical means with minimal hassle to the patient. And, if the patient treats preventatively after initial recovery, we can usually keep it that way while raising the overall level of health! Key Point: At the end of the day, patients should have the guarantee of having the best treatment that offers the least harm. When it comes to non-complicated musculoskeletal complaints…. That’s Chiropractic! Contact Send us an email at dr dot williams at chiropracticforward.com and let us know what you think of our show and tell us your suggestions for future episodes.  Feedback and constructive criticism is a blessing and so are subscribes and excellent reviews on podcast platforms.  We know how this works by now. If you value something, you have to share it, interact with it, review it, talk about it from time to time, and actively hit a few buttons to support it here and there when asked. It really does make a big difference.  Connect We can’t wait to connect with you again next week. From the Chiropractic Forward Podcast flight deck, this is Dr. Jeff Williams saying upward, onward, and forward. Website
Home
Social Media Links https://www.facebook.com/chiropracticforward/ Chiropractic Forward Podcast Facebook GROUP https://www.facebook.com/groups/1938461399501889/ Twitter YouTube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtc-IrhlK19hWlhaOGld76Q iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/chiropractic-forward-podcast-chiropractors-practicing/id1331554445?mt=2 Player FM Link https://player.fm/series/2291021 Stitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/the-chiropractic-forward-podcast-chiropractors-practicing-through TuneIn https://tunein.com/podcasts/Health–Wellness-Podcasts/The-Chiropractic-Forward-Podcast-Chiropractors-Pr-p1089415/ About the Author & Host Dr. Jeff Williams – Chiropractor in Amarillo, TX, Chiropractic Advocate, Author, Entrepreneur, Educator, Businessman, Marketer, and Healthcare Blogger & VloggerBibliography Vining R, S. Z., Minkalis A, (2019). “Current evidence for diagnosis of common conditions causing low back pain; systematic review and standardized terminology recommendations.” J Man Manip Ther 42(9): P651-654.

Insurance Warming To Chiropractic in 2020 & Chiropractic For Lumbar Herniation and Sciatica

CF 107: Insurance Warming To Chiropractic in 2020 & Chiropractic For Lumbar Herniation and Sciatica

Today we’re going to talk about what to expect with Insurance coverage in 2020 and we’ll talk about some thoughts on chiropractic, lumbar herniation, and sciatica according to what the research tells us. 

But first, here’s that sweet sweet bumper music

Chiropractic evidence-based products
Integrating Chiropractors
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Screen-Shot-2018-07-12-at-10.23.22-AM-150x55.jpg
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Screen-Shot-2018-07-12-at-10.23.33-AM-150x55.jpg
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Screen-Shot-2018-07-12-at-10.23.09-AM-150x55.jpg

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

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

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

If you haven’t yet I have a few things you should do. 

  • Like our facebook page, 
  • Join our private facebook group and interact, and then 
  • go review our podcast on iTunes and other podcast platforms. 
  • We also have an evidence-based brochure and poster store at chiropracticforward.com
  • While you’re there, join our weekly email newsletter. No spam, just a reminder when the newest episodes go live. Nothing special so don’t worry about signing up. Just one a week friends. 

Do it do it do it. 

You have collapsed into Episode #107

Now if you missed last week’s episode on joint replacement life spans, spinal infections, and vitamin D w/ calcium supplementation, then make sure you don’t miss that info. 

I think there were some good solid knowledge nuggets found there within so make sure you’re up to date and not falling behind the rest. Keep up with the class won’t you?

On the personal end of things I have to say that this has been one of the more challenging of Christmases if I’m being honest.  Beyond the disruption of normal schedules and normal business that goes on with the holidays…..we expect those things. The disruption stinks and it can make us lose money. That is frustrating. 

However this one was a bit different for me. If you’re a regular listener then you know that my Dad had a stroke on November 9th so that’s still a daily deal. Going out to the rehab hospital, working with his hand and wrist, elbow, and shoulder to see if I can spark any kind of sensation or movement. 

Then on Christmas Eve, my stepdad needs to go to the ER so I drive over to their house and drive my mom and Fred to the VA ER at about 10pm. 

Well, we end up sitting there until about 5am. Turns out he has appendicitis but no surgeons until the morning. We had a little time to go home and get a few hours of sleep before having to be back up at the hospital for surgery at about noon on Christmas Day. 

So, I got a few hours of sleep in, went by the rehab hospital to check on Dad, went back to pick my mom and family up, then off to the hospital. It only took them about 45 minutes and here’s the amazing thing. 

Fred had his appendix out at about 12:45 in the afternoon and was out of the hospital and at his house by 6:30pm. 

Outstanding!! And he’s done great. Hell, he said the worst part is where they shaved him and the hairs growing back in are wanting to catch on his clothing. Lol. 

So, as you can guess, it was a bit of a miserable Christmas. Back in my rascally days, 5am was nothing to me. In fact, I saw 5:00am pretty regularly after having been up all night hooting and hollering and acting a fool. But at 47, 5:00am is some mystical thing that I only hear about sometimes from my health freak friends that get up to work out in the mornings. 

I hope you holidays were more amazing than mine. I hope you got to spend some quality time with your loved ones and I hope the best for all of us in this new year. Upward onward and forward. 

Before we dive into the reason we’re here, it’s good to support the people that support you don’t you think? I’m about to throw you a deal and if you don’t take advantage of this deal, I just think you might be crazy.

If you’re a regular listener of our podcast, you know I’ve used ChiroUp since about June of 2018. Let me tell you about it because I’m about to give you a way to do a FREE TRIAL and, if you sign up, only pay $99/month for the first six months which is pennies compared to what it’s worth. So listen up!

ChiroUp is changing the way we practice by simplifying patient education and here’s what I mean: 

In a matter of seconds, you can send condition-specific reports to your patients with recommendations for treatment, for their activities of daily living, & for their exercises. 

You can see how this saves you time – no more explaining & re-explaining your patient’s care, because they have access to it at their fingertips. 

You can be confident that your patients are getting the best possible care, because the reports are populated based on what the literature recommends and isn’t that re-assuring? All of that work has been done FOR you. 

There are more than 1000 providers worldwide using ChiroUp to empower their treatments, patients, & practice – Including myself! **Short testimony**

If you don’t know what it’s all about or you’d like to check it out, do yourself a favor and go to Chiroup.com today to get started with your FREE TRIAL – Use code Williams99 to pay only $99/month for your first 6 months

That’s ChiroUp.com and super double secret code Williams99.

Item #1

Our first item of interest today is called “More Payers Backing Chiropractic Care in 2020” by Sherry McAllister(McCallister S 2019). It was published in the Managed Healthcare Executive on December 23, 2019. 

Hot potato, coming through….

Just taking this article point by interesting point:

She says research has shown private and government health plans may inadvertently be steering their members toward opioids by not covering, restricting benefits, or charging higher co-pays for chiropractic care. 

Indeed and we’ve covered that here as well. This was laid out particularly well in a White House report from 2017 or so I believe. They were actually very clear in pointing out that current Medicare and healthcare policies actually create barriers to conservative management rather than pharmaceutical modalities. 

Think about it; when a prescription of opioids cost $10-$20 but a visit to a PT or chiropractor can bust the bank…..well, what you going to pick if you’re not very educated on all of the options available?

She points out a recent study from Boston University showing that patients with a deductible greater than $1500 were less likely to choose a doctor of chiropractic as their entry-point provider. 

However, as she points out, United Healthcare has announced a certain employer-sponsored medical plan that will have zero out-of-pocket spending, which will include their deductible….if they opt to go to a chiropractor for treatment of low back pain first. Hell yeah. Hell yeah is what I have to say about that. 

We’ve been sitting here at the end of the tunnel waiting on this train that has been delayed for decades. I’m getting old waiting on this stupid POS but it looks like we might be seeing the light coming down the way and hearing the rumbling on the line. 

Medical doctors will never lead the charge when it comes to sending these patients to chiropractors. It must come from the payers and maybe we’re starting to see the push. Hell, we know we save the system money so why on Earth would they NOT lead the charge?

UHC estimates that by 2021 this design can reduce imaging by 22%…..good luck getting some chiros to scale back on x-rays UHC….good luck. They estimate it can reduce spinal surgeries by 21%….I’d guess more than that, reduce opioid use by 19%…..more than that I’d guess, and reduce total cost for members and employers. Agreed and agreed. 

McAllister goes on to discuss how other healthcare plans are coming on board by expanding or emphasizing coverage in 2020 for chiropractic including Tricare which handles the military folks here in America. Instead of just active duty troops, Tricare is expected to approve extending chiropractic coverage to family members, retirees, and family members!! 

Kowapow, people. Sha-freaking-zam to the bamalam. 

She points out this is most likely in response to a 10-year study of military members through 3 different clinical trials showing chiropractic was instrumental in increasing strength, endurance, and response time among service members with lower back pain. Again, we have covered these here on The Chiropractic Forward podcast if you’ve been following along. 

Chiropractic’s own Dr. Christine Goertz has been instrumental in some of those clinical trials. 

Mrs. McAllister points out that even non-military seniors in some part of America could be getting upgraded access to chiropractic through benefit expansions of Medicare Advantage plans. 

We know that insurance plans do not like wellness care because they’re stupid and short-sighted but Anthem Blue Cross in California expanded wellness benefits for its Medicare Advantage plans to include up to 24 visits per year with a chiropractor, massage therapist, and/or acupuncturist at no extra cost. Same goes for folks in Philadelphia. Good stuff here people. 

When you hear veteran chiropractors such as myself say there’s not been a better time to be a chiropractor in the last 30 years, since the Mercedes 80’s,  now you are seeing why. It’s happening before your eyes I believe. 

This is all excellent news for chiropractors, massage therapists, and acupuncturists. Now, when can we expect things to really change and translate into more patients in your doors and more money in the bank? Well, who the hell knows? But, I can tell you that the American College of Physicians started recommending spinal manipulation for back pain in 2016, the Journal of the American Medical Association supported that recommendation in a 2017 article, The Lancet’s series on Low Back Pain supported the recommendations in 2017, The White House Report we mentioned backed it all up, Consumer Reports, The Joint Commission, CDC, NIH, and the FDA all came in line with this new thinking. 

So, you see the more of these organizations and voices of authority that come on board, the more we’re going to see in our offices. But it is a snowball and the ball has just started rolling at the top of the hill. 

The trick is going to be to take advantage of it all by following research and evidence. By expanding and bringing chiropractic closer to the medical community rather than leaving it in some archaic form from 100+ years ago. 

Stick with it. It’s moving the right direction and it’s going to be OK. 

Item #2

The second paper is an older one. It’s from way back in 2006. Old man river…. that old man river…

It’s called “Chiropractic manipulation in the treatment of acute back pain and sciatica with disc protrusion: a randomized double-blind clinical trial of active and simulated spinal manipulations.” It was authored by V Santilli et. al. and published in Spine Journal(Santilli V 2006). If it’s in Spine, it’s prolly muy bueno amigo. 

Why They Did It

The stated goal here was to assess the short and long-term effects of spinal manipulation on acute back pain and sciatica WITH disc protrusion. 

How They Did It

  • It was a randomized double-blind trial comparing active and simulated manipulations in rehabilitation medical centers in Rome and its suburbs
  • They had 102 ambulatory patients with at least moderate pain on a visual analog scale for local pain and/or radiating pain. 
  • They implemented appropriate outcome measurements
  • Manipulations or simulated manipulations were performed five days per week by chiropractors with a number of sessions which depended on pain relief or up to a max of 20 
  • They used a rapid thrust technique which I’m assuming is high-velocity low amplitude such as diversified 

What They Found

  • Manipulations appeared more effective on the basis of the percentage of 
  • pain-free cases
  • number of days with pain
  • number of days with moderate or severe pain
  • Patient receiving manipulations had a lower mean VAS score
  • There were no adverse events

Wrap It Up

“Active manipulations have more effect than simulated manipulations on pain relief for acute back pain and sciatica with disc protrusion.”

Pawya!!

Item #3

Our last one today is called “Manipulation or microdiskectomy for sciatica? A prospective randomized clinical study” authored by McMorland et al and published in the Journal of Manipulative Physiological Therapeutics in October of 2010. Old man river….not quite that old though. 10 years isn’t fresh in the research world but that’s OK, it’s still a good one we should all know about. 

Why They Did It

They wanted to compare the clinical efficacy of spinal manipulation against microdiskectomy in patients with sciatica secondary to lumbar herniation

How They Did It

  • It was a randomized clinical study
  • 120 patients were included all of which were referred by a primary to neurosurgeons for lumbar herniation
  • All had unilateral lumbar radiculopathy secondary to lumbar disc her4niation 
  • The herniations were present at L3/4, L4/5, or L5/S1

What They Found

Significant improvement in both treatment groups compared to baseline scores over time was observed in all outcome measure

Wrap Up

“Sixty percent of patients with sciatica who had failed other medical management benefited from spinal manipulation to the same degree as if they underwent surgical intervention. 

Of 40% left unsatisfied, subsequent surgical intervention confers excellent outcomes. 

Patients with symptomatic lumbar herniation failing medical management should consider spinal manipulation followed by surgery if warranted.

Three syllables….one word, folks. Bamalam. Bam-a-lam, people….

It’s happening. It’s coming. Stay the course, make smart decisions. Be the expert. Use research and the Chiropractic Forward Podcast to do it. 

Chiropractic evidence-based products
Integrating Chiropractors
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Screen-Shot-2018-07-12-at-10.23.22-AM-150x55.jpg
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Screen-Shot-2018-07-12-at-10.23.33-AM-150x55.jpg
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Screen-Shot-2018-07-12-at-10.23.09-AM-150x55.jpg

The Message

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

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

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

And, if the patient develops a “preventative” mindset going forward from initial recovery, we can likely keep it that way while raising the general, overall level of health of the patient!

Key Point:

Patients should have the guarantee of having the best treatment offering the least harm. When it comes to non-complicated musculoskeletal complaints….

That’s Chiropractic!

Contact

Send us an email at dr dot williams at chiropracticforward.com and let us know what you think of our show or tell us your suggestions for future episodes. Feedback and constructive criticism is a blessing and so are subscribes and excellent reviews on iTunes and other podcast services. Y’all know how this works by now so help if you don’t mind taking a few seconds to do so.

Help us get to the top of podcasts in our industry. That’s how we get the message out. 

Connect

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

Website

Social Media Links

https://www.facebook.com/chiropracticforward/

Chiropractic Forward Podcast Facebook GROUP

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1938461399501889/

Twitter

YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtc-IrhlK19hWlhaOGld76Q

iTunes

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/chiropractic-forward-podcast-chiropractors-practicing/id1331554445?mt=2

Player FM Link

https://player.fm/series/2291021

Stitcher:

https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/the-chiropractic-forward-podcast-chiropractors-practicing-through

TuneIn

https://tunein.com/podcasts/Health–Wellness-Podcasts/The-Chiropractic-Forward-Podcast-Chiropractors-Pr-p1089415/

About the Author & Host

Dr. Jeff Williams – Chiropractor in Amarillo, TX, Chiropractic Advocate, Author, Entrepreneur, Educator, Businessman, Marketer, and Healthcare Blogger & Vlogger

Bibliography

McCallister S (2019) “More Payers Backing Chiropractic Care in 2020.” Managed Healthcare Executing.

Santilli V, B. E., Finucci S, (2006). “Chiropractic manipulation in the treatment of acute back pain and sciatica with disc protrusion: a randomized double-blind clinical trial of active and simulated spinal manipulations.” Spine J 6(2): 131-137.