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CF 031: No More High Risk & Useless Drugs From Here On – Getting Off Opioids

No More High Risk & Useless Drugs From Here On – Getting Off OpioidsIntegrating Chiropractors

Today we’re going to talk about getting off opioids. Even with the opioid crisis going crazy in our country, every single week, I have patients come in and they’ve been prescribed opioids as knee-jerk reactions right off the bat. We know that ain’t right! It’s time to start getting off opioids. 

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. It makes it easier to let you know when the newest episode goes live and it’s just nice of you. 

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. Big goals. It’s a thing, folks… shoot big, and even if you fail, you’re still getting somewhere you weren’t going previously. It’s a win-win. 

You have sashayed all fancy like into Episode #31

I spent the weekend last week in Longview, TX. Folks, I swear if you just looked out to check the weather, your face would fry right up like a pork rind. And pork rinds are gross so, if you’re down South, keep your face in the house. The sun is downright dumb right now, at this point in time. Certainly in the South. 

Now, let’s turn our attention to drugs. Or getting patients off of them. Getting off opioids. This brings to mind an uncle of mine. He’s having some chronic pain. Granted, he’s very elderly but, he’s always been a healthy guy. Always. No seriously bad habits. Nothing like that.  

The doctor said he was going to try taking him off of some of his 16 medications to see if that helped. Lol. Ya think so doc? Holy smokes and save the gravy. Sixteen medications. Imagine the obstacle courses of side effects with every single one of the sixteen medications he was taking? It boggles the mind. Hell yes, he’s sick. When does this mentality change?

We hope with podcasts like this, like evidence-based chiropractic groups on social media. There are people out there like us screaming and hollering to make it happen. 

I had a young lady in my office just two weeks ago. Probably about 24 or 25 years old. She had fairly acute low back pain and had gone to the Urgent Care for it the day before. Guess what they did? Gabapentin was their first-line choice. First line. 

No sir, no ma’am. That is NOT in keeping with every known current recommendation from the medical field. Here it is lined out for you. 

Chiropractic, exercise/rehab, heat, and massage, maybe acupuncture if it’s a chronic issue. Throw in cognitive behavioral therapy and some other therapies I’m not all that familiar with to round it out. Some guides will say aspirin, ibuprofen, etc..

Second line would mostly be the anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen and aspirin. We covered a study some time back on the blog where ibuprofen was shown more effective than Tylenol but, other than that, do as you will. 

Last line would be injections, more serious medications, and very last would be surgery. This is all about getting off of opioids.

That’s the order. You don’t skip everything and go right to Gabapentin. Not anymore anyway. The word isn’t percolating through the ether right now and getting to the physicians seeing this stuff on the front line. It’s all about getting off opioids, folks.

Here’s why. Let’s start with this one called “Anticonvulsants in the treatment of low back pain and lumbar radicular pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis” by Oliver Enke, et. al. and published in CMAJ(Enke O 2018). CMAJ stands for the Canadian Medical Association Journal so, it’s basically JAMA for Canadians. By making this clear to the listeners here, you know this isn’t chiropractors picking apart medical doctors and medicine. This comes from the authorities in the medical field. 

Why They Did It

There’s scant evidence that an anti-convulsant like gabapentin is effective for low back pain yet the incidence of its use has gained significantly recently. The authors here wanted to find out if there was actually any effectiveness for the medication for low back pain. 

How They Did It

  • 5 databases were used to search for prior info and research on the matter. 
  • The outcomes were self-reported pain, disability, and adverse events
  • Risk of bias was assessed and taken into account
  • Quality of the info was assessed as well
  • The info was gathered and numbers put on the information to make it make sense. 
  • 9 trials compared Topiramate, Gabapentin, or Pregabalin to placebo
  • There were 859 participants

What They Found

  • 14 out of 15 so…..93.3%….found anti-convulsants were not effective to reduce pain or disability in low back pain or lumbar radicular pain
  • There was HIGH-QUALITY evidence of no effect vs. placebo for chronic low back pain in the short term.
  • There was HIGH-QUALITY evidence of no effect for lumbar radicular pain in the immediate term 
  • The lack of effectiveness also comes with HIGH-QUALITY evidence of an increased risk of bad side effects. 

Wrap It Up

The authors wrapped it up by saying, “There is moderate- to high-quality evidence that anticonvulsants are ineffective for treatment of low back pain or lumbar radicular pain. There is high-quality evidence that gabapentinoids have a higher risk for adverse events.”

So, we can close the door on gabapentinoids right? Time shall tell. How are we going to do our part to get the word to the right folks on this? Shoot me your suggestions. Count me in. 

OK, we know now that gabapentinoids are foolish to prescribe for low back pain. What about opioids? If you’ve been listening very long to the Chiropractic Forward Podcast, then you likely already know the answer. But I like to add to the pile so here we do with a new one called “Changes in pain intensity following discontinuation of long-term opioid therapy for chronic non-cancer pain” by McPerson, et. al. and published in the Journal of the International Association for the Study of Pain. This paper was published on June 13 of 2018. (McPherson S 2018)

Why They Did It

The objective of this study was to characterize pain intensity following opioid discontinuation over 12 months.

How They Did it

  • The paper was a retrospective VA administrative data study
  • 551 patients were identified and included.
  • They took data over a 24 month time period which included 12 months before discontinuation and 12 months after discontinuation. 
  • The Numeric Rating Scale for pain was used as an outcome assessment

Wrap It Up

“Pain intensity following discontinuation of LTOT does not, on average, worsen for patients and may slightly improve, particularly for patients with mild-to-moderate pain at the time of discontinuation. Clinicians should consider these findings when discussing risks of opioid therapy and potential benefits of opioid taper with patients.”

Well then, getting off of opioids should be easy. All of the info tells they do no good anyways right? 

I had a new patient come in today. She’s 23. Last year, she had discectomies at three different levels. Can you imagine? Now, to be fair to the surgeon, she tried two months of physical therapy and was still unable to work or function in her daily life. She would intermittently go numb from the waist down. That’s big stuff but, should she have had surgery that quickly?

Does that mean she had cauda equina syndrome? Well….maybe. Numb from the waist down sort of sounds like it but did that include loss of bowel or bladder control? I’m not sure yet. I’m going to find out more about it as we treat. The surgeon may have been correct if it was indeed cauda equina and I’m not one to second-guess the guy right now going off of what I know right now. 

The main point here is that she said she was on all kinds of meds the whole time and afterward and is still on gabapentin and trying to wean herself off of it. I went over the Canadian Medical Journal article we just went over at the start of this podcast and showed her how it’s doing nothing for her. She said she knows that. It doesn’t help her one bit but she has withdrawal issues if she takes less than a certain amount per day. These folks need our help and I hope I’m able to do my part for her. 

We can avoid this stuff. I hate that I’m getting to her afterward though. I have to tell you. What if, on top of physical therapy (which I don’t see doing a ton of good for discs in my experience), what if on top of PT she would have been told to do massage, spinal manipulation, and I would argue spinal decompression and cold laser as well? Did she try an inversion table at all? What about Tai Chi, yoga, cognitive behavior therapy? 

What I’m saying here is that PT is just part of the cocktail. The power is when PT is mixed with the rest. We are getting off opioids, folks.

I have shown you all paper after paper showing evidence-based proof of the effectiveness of chiropractic care but how about some cultural proof? Let’s do it!

What name is more respected by consumers in American than Consumer Reports? Honestly, I remember the name from when I was a kid. Consumer Reports is ingrained in the membrane, isn’t it? I say that it is so it must be so. 

Here is an article from Consumer Reports from May 4, 2017(Carr T 2017). Just over a year ago. 

The article talks about Thomas Sells, a veteran receiving alternative therapies through the VA. Along with chiropractic care, the article mentions alternatives for low back pain treatment like tai chi, yoga, massage, and physical therapy. 

The article says, “Growing research shows that a combination of hands-on therapies and other nondrug measures can be just as effective as more traditional forms of back care, including drugs and surgery. And they’re much safer.”

That feels pretty nice, doesn’t it? Just a little “Awwww yeah…..”

They refer to the updated recommendations from the American College of Physicians that we have mentioned a million times here on the Chiropractic Forward Podcast. Even with only having had 31 episodes, we’ve probably mentioned it that many times. 

They also mention a prior Consumer Report survey of 3,562 back pain sufferers where over 80% of them had tried yoga, tai chi, massage, or chiropractic and said it helped. 

A big kudos to Consumer Report for also saying this, “But here’s the problem: People also told us that their insurers were far more likely to cover visits to doctors than those for non-drug treatments—and that they would have gone for more of that kind of treatment if it had been covered by their health insurance.” 

Remember in the previous episodes where we have talked about the White House report that said clearly that CMS and health insurance policies in general “create barriers” to a patient seeking out effective, but an alternative, means of treatment? The link is in the show notes for your perusal.(2017) 

https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/whitehouse.gov/files/images/Final_Report_Draft_11-3-2017.pdf

Well, there you have it. Right there in Consumer Reports. 

They also include a great quote from a woman in St. Charles, Illinois, “Spinal manipulation did me a world of good. My chiropractor had me do a lot of exercises on my own, which I continue to do. I’m so happy to get my active life back.”

We, chiropractors, see and hear this stuff all of the time but, the average Joe reading Consumer Reports or some other popular publication doesn’t usually. 

This week, I want you to go forward with the knowledge that this profession is moving ahead. Not at a snail’s pace either. It’s moving fast right now. Paper after paper is coming out and 99% are in our favor. 

Not only are we moving ahead, we’re moving ahead with help. Help from the big boys. Help from the White House to a certain extent, help from Congress to a certain extent (VA Bills), help from the medical profession to a certain extent, and help from your evidence-based colleagues like this podcast, the Forward Thinking Chiropractor podcast, the Evidence-based chiropractors facebook group, and other groups similar to them. 

This stuff is happening. You can hold onto your ideas whatever they may be but I’m telling you, the door is cracked open and, if we are to bust that sucker down and shatter it into splinters, we will only do it through research and through an integration or merging of our profession with the thoughts and actions of other professions. 

Key Takeaways

  • We can get these folks off useless and harmful drugs and we can help keep more from becoming addicted. The process of getting off opioids has begun.
  • You are educated at a level that you should never be intimidated or nervous to tell a GP that gabapentin is no longer a first-line treatment. Do it for yourself, do it for your patients, and do it for future patients. If not you, then who?

Integrating Chiropractors

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 a mechanical pain and responds better to mechanical treatment instead of chemical treatments.

When you look at the body of literature, it is clear: research and clinical experience show that, in about 80%-90% of headaches, neck, and back pain, patients get good to excellent results with Chiropractic when compared to usual medical care. It’s safe, less expensive, decreases chances of surgery and disability. Chiropractors do it conservatively and non-surgically with little time requirement or hassle for the patient. And, if the patient has a “preventative” mindset going forward, chiropractors can likely keep it that way while raising the general, overall level of health! At the end of the day, patients have the right to the best treatment that does the least harm and 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 your network and help us build this podcast into the #1 Chiropractic podcast in the world. 

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

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CF 019: Non-Opioid More Effective While Chiropractic Maintenance May Be The Most Effective

CF 026: Chiropractic Better Than Physical Therapy and Usual Medical Care For Musculoskeletal Issues

 

 

Bibliography

(2017). The President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and The Opioid Crisis.

Carr T. (2017). “The Better Way to Get Back Pain Relief: Growing research suggests that drugs and surgery may not be the answer for your bad back.” Consumer Report  Retrieved May 4, 2017, from https://www.consumerreports.org/back-pain/the-better-way-to-get-back-pain-relief/.

Enke O (2018). “Anticonvulsants in the treatment of low back pain and lumbar radicular pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” CMAJ(190): E786-793.

McPherson S (2018). “Changes in Pain Intensity Following Discontinuation of Long-Term Opioid Therapy for Chronic Non-Cancer Pain.” PAIN.

Getting off opioids

Getting off opioids

Getting off opioids

Getting off opioids

Getting off opioids

CF 025: Vets With Low Back Pain. Usual Care + Chiropractic vs. Usual Care Alone

Vets With Low Back Pain: Usual Care + Chiropractic vs. Usual Care Alone

Today we’re going to talk about our vets with low back pain. We have already shown how chiropractic is backed completely by research for low back pain. For us, that’s not even in question. But, this week, there’s brand new research out in JAMA, yes, THAT JAMA, talking about vets with low back pain and chiropractic.

But first, make way for 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.  

I want to  humbly, with my hat in my hand and puppy dog eyes ask you to go to chiropracticforward.com and sign up for our newsletter. Make it easy on us to update you when a new episode come out. It’s just the nice thing to do folks. 

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? Do you need a guest for YOUR podcast?

Look no further, you have found your man. Just send me an email at dr.williams@chiropracticforward.com and we will get it done. Heck, we’re trying to get the word out about what we’re doing here don’t ya know?

We are honored to have you listening today. 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 grooved nice and easy……. 70’s style right into Episode #25

As you may have heard me say several times before, I’m in practice. Day to day, week to week, month to month. In fact, I’ve been in active daily practice for over 20 years. I’ve answered the phones, booked the appointments, been an associate that basically answered to a receptionist. I’ve also been a busy chiropractor having a hard time keeping up with my own head. 

I tell you this because I think it’s important to know that the information you get from me is not only from research journals but is also from daily experience. Twenty years of it at this point! 

When we start discussing active military and veterans, if you’ve been in practice very long at all, you know these men and women are hurting and, many times, are not getting the help they desperately need. I see them every week. I’m actually in the process of signing up for the Choice Program as we speak so I can see more and more of them. Vets with low back painare a priority.

As a side note, you’d think that veterans are among the most honorable of all American citizens wouldn’t you? And wouldn’t you expect that the most honorable of all Americans would be worthy of healthcare that adequately addresses their needs based on current research and knowledge? 

One would think but, as we see over and over, that just isn’t the case, unfortunately. 

Here’s one example, a friend of mine….her father is in the VA hospital right now with several issues. She went to visit and was looking for his room. When she asked a staffer for directions, they directed her through this plywood board attached to a door that kind of opened up all together and allowed passage into the hallway that led to his room. Can you imagine our veterans being in a place that has plywood boarded up on the doors? One door…..any damn door?

Another would be the father of a friend of mine. He died waiting on a referral to a pulmonologist through the Choice Program. He couldn’t just go and make his own appointment. Not if he wanted it covered anyway. The VA system failed this decorated Vietnam Vet whereas medical professionals made it clear to him that his pulmonary hypertension could be treated after seeing a specialist to determine his specific level of PH. Well, the referral didn’t come and time ran out. Doesn’t seem right does it?

Let’s get to the musculoskeletal part of things. Military services leads to a high rate of chronic pain. That is just the facts. Knowing this fact, it is not surprising that veterans succumb to opioid overdose at twice the rate of the general population. That is just astonishing. It’s understandable but astonishing just the same. Not only were they twice as likely to succumb to opioid overdose, but they were twice as likely to be prescribed opioids in the first place!

One would think with the new recommendations from international low back experts published in The Lancet, new recommendations from the American College of Physicians, and the mountains of randomized controlled trials showing the efficacy of Chiropractic Care of low back pain, you’d expect to have an automatic referral from the VA primary care physicians. But, again, common sense doesn’t alway seem to reign in the medical kingdom. Money, politics, group-think, and false dogmatic believes of yesteryear tend to control the thought process. In my opinion, of course. 

If you are unaware of the body of research, I’m sure this just sounds like belly-aching. I’m telling you as straightforward and as honestly as I can, chiropractic’s effectiveness has been proven through research so many times I can’t begin to count. We have been shown to be as effective or more effect than medication including NSAIDS. On top of that, we recently talked about research showing opioids having less effectiveness than NSAIDS. Veterans need a source of treatment for their musculoskeletal pain that is non-pharmacological, cost-effective, and has a high degree of overall effectiveness. 

Everything and everyone already mentioned in this podcast (The Lancet, ACP, etc…) agrees one of those options is Chiropractic specifically. Especially when it comes to vets with low back pain.

With all of that in mind, let’s get into the paper that recently came out in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). It’s titled “Effect of Usual Medical Care Plus Chiropractic Care vs. Usual Medical Care Alone on Pain and Disability Among US Service Members With Low Back Pain,” and authored by Dr. Christine Goetz, DC, PhD. 

It was published in May of 2018(Goertz C 2018). 

Why They Did It

The authors recognized the need for non-pharmacological low back pain treatments and hoped to determine if chiropractic care being added to traditional medical care resulted in a better outcome than if the chiropractic care was left out completely for vets with low back pain. 

How They Did It

  • For you research nerds, the paper was a 3-site pragmatic comparative effectiveness clinical trial using adaptive allocation
  • It was conducted from September 28, 2012 to February 13, 2016
  • The sites studied included 2 large military medical centers and 1 smaller hospital at a military training site. 
  • Active duty aged 18-50 with low back pain originating in the musculoskeletal system were accepted for the study
  • Outcomes used were low back pain intensity measured through the Numerical Rating Scale (NRS) and disability using the Roland Morris Disability Questionnaire. 
  • Secondary outcomes measured were perceived improvement, satisfaction, and medication use. 

What They Found

  • 250 patients at each site were accepted. 
  • 750 total
  • The mean participant age was 30.9
  • 23% were female
  • 32.4% were non-white
  • Adjusted mean differences in scores at the 6-week mark were statistically significant favoring usual medical care PLUS Chiropractic Care. 
  • There were no serious related adverse effects. 

Wrap It Up

The authors concluded, “Chiropractic care, when added to usual medical care, resulted in moderate short-term improvements in low back pain intensity and disability in active-duty military personnel. This trial provides additional support for the inclusion of chiropractic care as a component of multidisciplinary health care for low back pain, as currently recommended in existing guidelines. However, study limitations illustrate that further research is needed to understand longer-term outcomes as well as how patient heterogeneity and intervention variations affect patient responses to chiropractic care.”

I realize this is a brand new paper. I also realize that Dr. Goertz is among the leaders of the body of research when it comes to chiropractic. This is exactly why I question the need for further research to understand longer-term outcomes. We have had longer-term outcomes research. Plenty of them as a matter of fact. 

If you go to this paper’s website and click on the link you’ll find in the show notes, ( https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2680417 ) you’ll notice that you can click on a “Comments” icon just under the “Download PDF” icon. 

If you navigate to that Comment section and click on it, you’ll notice the following quote from May 21, 2018 from Dr. Frederick Rivara, MD, MPH at the University of Washington in Seattle, “As a sufferer myself of chronic low back pain, I was very interested to see the results of this comparative effectiveness trial. To me, it points out the importance of integrated care for the treatment of chronic conditions. What are the likely barriers to implementing this in medical practices in general? Do we really need more research on the right treatments for low back pain?” Here is Dr. Rivara’s stated conflict of interest at the end of the quote: he’s the Editor in Chief of JAMA Network Open. The Editor in Chief made that statement folks. He gets it. Now it’s time for the rest of the medical kingdom to get it.

Key Takeaways

  1. We don’t need any more research into whether low back pain is effectively treated with chiropractic care. It’s been done a hundred times over. What we need is acceptance and a shift in the groupthink of the medical field. When it comes to treating vets with low back pain, there is no better starting point than chiropractic care. 
  2. We also need to chiropractors to step up and take the golden scepter the medical field had dangled out there. It’s ours for the taking. 
  3. We also need more research into the effectiveness of chiropractic care for headaches and neck pain. The research is there supporting our effectiveness. No doubt about it. But, it needs to be there by the hundreds just like you see in low back pain. There needs to be so much of it that the deniers start to look like flat-Earthers in the healthcare world. 

This week, I want you to go forward with doing some of your own research on vets and opioids, on Chiropractic and low back pain, and on the Choice Program through the VA. We can help our active military and our vets. We can help them better than anyone else for their low back pain and that includes physical therapists. There is research showing that exercise/rehab + chiropractic is more effective than exercise/rehab alone(Korthals-de Bos IB 2003, Coulter I 2018). 

Either way you boil it down, we win. We can help these people so help me figure out how we get that message out there and how we’re supposed to reach out and grab it for our profession. 

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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

Coulter I (2018). “Manipulation and mobilization for treating chronic low back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” Spine 0(0).

Goertz C (2018). “Effect of Usual Medical Care Plus Chiropractic Care vs Usual Medical Care Alone on Pain and Disability Among US Service Members With Low Back Pain A Comparative Effectiveness Clinical Trial.” JAMA 1(1): E180105.

Korthals-de Bos IB (2003). “Cost effectiveness of physiotherapy, manual therapy, and general practitioner care for neck pain: economic evaluation alongside a randomised controlled trial.” British Medical Journal 326(7395): 911.

 

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 021: Crazy Update On Run-Away Healthcare Spending in America

Crazy Update On Run-Away Healthcare Spending in America

In today’s podcast, we are going to talk about the crazy, run-away healthcare spending in America and we’re going to use an article straight from the leading authority, the Journal of the American Medical Association, to help us out.

Before we get started, I want to share with you how much have enjoyed getting this podcast up and running. I strongly doubt it’s as popular as the other great chiropractic podcasts that have been up and going for a couple of years now. Heck, Chiropractic Forward has just been going since December so, at this point, one would expect for us to still be trying to gain attention and trying to gain some ears. And…..we are. No doubt.

But I can say that is has been pure joy to look up the downloads for each episode and seeing that, no…..its not just me that finds this stuff fascinating. Lol. You guys and gals are starting to listen and starting to pay attention.

We’re still struggling for those like and retweets on Twitter.

That’s the frustrating part if I’m being honest. To KNOW that you have put together an effective article on how chiropractors do not cause strokes and then to have such a hard time getting the word out. It’s frustrating to be sure but it’s also part of building something new and exciting.

So, I will simply continue to remind you that we need your help if we are to make a difference and I will keep reminding you to like our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter, sign up for our weekly reminder newsletter through the form on our homepage, and share us with your network.

We would certainly appreciate that help. Some of you may have actually gotten to see me arguing the stroke issue on our Facebook page. My gosh, some people, you could hit them with a research book full of papers in your favor and some would still argue just to try to prevent being wrong.

Not only do I get to argue about stroke or whatever the topic may be, it always strays into generalized ignorant statements like, “Chiropractic is bunk.”

I can use research to absolutely wipe the floor with people like that. And, the irritating thing is that the people, or trolls spouting off like that are usually computer majors, musicians, or something else completely removed from healthcare.

It is enough to make a man insane if you allow it. So I don’t.

Anyway, check us on Twitter and Facebook. Every now and then, you may find an enthusiastic discussion. lol. To say the least.

Since I haven’t yet, I’ll introduce myself, I’m Dr. Jeff Williams and I’m your host for the Chiropractic Forward podcast. 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 shaked, shimmied, and rolled into Episode #21

I’d like to start by saying that it is good to see the medical world beginning to examine itself with a clear lens. We have seen them turn blind eyes to many things we notice and research notices. As we have mentioned, there has been little attention given to the updated recommendations in favor of chiropractic, massage, and acupuncture in February of 2017. It is yet to be known what, or if anything, will change following the series of low back pain papers recently published in The Lancet (March21, 2018).

I have been mentioning how I feel that the opioid crisis has opened many many doors recently in regards to the medical field, clinical pathways, and in they way they are starting to look at the costs. Kudos to those in the medical field for beginning to call out their own protocols and questions them for effectiveness vs. risk. Some procedures may be effective here and there but, in general, if the squeeze is not worth the push, then there is little to zero return on investment and it should be abandoned. Obviously, one’s health is different than a business stat sheet but the metaphor is a valid one I believe.

Obamacare was supposed to heal all of our healthcare woes, right? From what I can tell, all it did was squeeze out the middle class. The folks that make too much to be subsidized but do not make enough to not really care about the new jacked health insurance rates.

For example, the premiums here in Texas have doubled or tripled in many cases while the insurance companies cover less and less. The co-payments have gone from $15-$20 all the way up to $50 and even $100. The deductibles have gone from $250 or $1,000 all the way up to $5000 or $10,000. In addition, the insurance companies are now reimbursing healthcare providers less. in many cases, 3/4 less.

Did you know that here in Texas, where a medical radiologist was once reimbursed up to $28+ or so for reading a neck series, they now get paid in the ballpark of $7 for the same series? I promise the doctors are not living less of a life than they were prior to Obamacare. Not at all. But, what is likely happening unconsciously is they are probably reading more x-rays more quickly to attempt to make up for the reduction in their pay.

Would you agree that this may put patients at more risk? I’m not saying doctors make a conscious decision to put patients at risk but, if a professional in ANY industry has a house in town, a house and boat on the lake, 3 cars, time share on a private plane, and things of that nature, when their income is cut by 3/4 in some cases, they will tend to find ways to make that up in ways that make sense to them. Regardless of profession or industry.

Maybe Obamacare just makes them more efficient rather than raising the patient risk. I do not have the answer on this but I do know that radiologists are responsible for everything on a film and their license is at risk on each and every film. When the government cut their pay that dramatically, the government began putting people at more risk. In my opinion of course.

I am firmly on the side of the medical field on this issue. The same type of thing is currently happening with the chiropractic industry as well. We are being reimbursed at smaller and smaller rates. We are seeing our covered patients being turned into cash patients whether we like it or not. The co-pays and deductibles are so high, the could just as easily be cash patients for our purposes. For this very reason, you are seeing more and more chiropractors in America begin to look at changing over to a cash-based practice model and drop insurance contracts all together.

I’m not certain every bit of this discussion is completely on topic but let me tie it up and bring it home through the use of this research paper. This paper appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on March 23, 2018. It was titled “Health Care Spending in the United States and Other High-Income Countries” and was authored by Irene Papanicolas, PhD (Papanicolas I 2018).

Why They Did It
Healthcare spending in America is a long-time hot topic and issue that has never been adequately addressed. Part of the problem is that we Americans spend more than other high-income countries with little information that shows that any efforts to control expenses has done anything to help the problem.

These authors attempted to compare the big ticket items in healthcare in America with the same items in ten other high-income countries in an attempt to learn where improvement might be made here at home.

How They Did It
Information was mostly gained from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) from 2013-16. The OECD is an international organization comparing underlying differences in structural features, types of health care and social spending, and performance for several high-income countries.

What They Found
In 2016, America spent 17.8% of its gross domestic product on healthcare while the other 10 nations spent from 9.6%-12.4%.
Surprise, surprise….pharmaceutical costs spending per capita in America was $1443 vs. from $466-$939 in the other 10 countries. American doctors and patients love those pills. That is healthcare spending in America at its best.
90% of Americans are insured while 99%-100% were insured in the other 10 countries.
The U.S. has the highest proportion of private insurance when compared to the other 10 countries, which is 55.3%.
When it comes to smoking, Americans actually have the second lowest rate sitting at 11.4%
When we talk about obesity, the US has the highest proportion at 70.1%. Others range from 23.8%-63.4% for comparison purposes.
The US life expectancy was the lowest at 78.8 years.
US infant mortality was the highest rate of the 11 countries.
There was no real difference in the American physician workforce, nurse workforce, etc., when compared to the other 10 countries.
America has comparable numbers of hospital beds
Americans use MRIs and CTs when compared to the other 10 countries.
The US had similar rates of utilization for acute myocardial infarction, pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hip replacements, knee replacements, and coronary artery bypass graft surgery.
Administrative costs of care in American stood at 8% while the same measure in the other 10 countries ranged from 1%-3%.
Salaries of physicians and nurses were higher in the US; for example, generalist physicians salaries were $218 173 in the US compared with a range of $86 607 to $154 126 in the other countries.

Wrap It Up
The authors of the paper concluded that, “The United States spent approximately twice as much as other high-income countries on medical care, yet utilization rates in the United States were largely similar to those in other nations.

Prices of labor and goods, including pharmaceuticals, and administrative costs appeared to be the major drivers of the difference in overall cost between the United States and other high-income countries”

My own wrap up would be that America spends twice as much money on healthcare while we have the highest rate of obesity, double the amount of pharmaceuticals, lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, and higher administrative costs when we are compared to 10 other countries of similar income. Healthcare spending in America is out of hand.

That’s not good, folks. Not good at all. When do the pharmaceutical companies stop controlling the medical profession and the medical profession turn it around to control the pharmaceutical companies? When does that happen exactly?

Did you know that, from 1948 until 1996, there was a TV ban on running liquor ads? You may see beer or wine ads but you would never see Jim Beam running a commercial between Alf and Different Strokes. But, how often do we see pharmaceutical ads on TV these days? It’s a shame to be honest. Shouldn’t the doctor be the one that is informed on medications rather than a 320 million people that are almost completely uneducated on pharmaceuticals? Should patients be going into doctors’ offices ready to pressure them into a certain medication because they saw it on TV?

It is absolutely insane and should have been stopped at the first mention of it. To make it fair or legal or whatever may be the case, they state a long laundry list of all of the things that may happen to you if you take it. But, the information is delivered and people are influenced.

If a patient goes in for something like erectile dysfunction, the doctor tells them what they need. They don’t tell the doctor!! Do you see the problem here? If the patient goes in for potential blood clots, the doctor should be telling them they need a certain type of thinner. That is not the patient’s place in any country on the entire planet.

Not only do the pharma companies control patient mentality in this way but they attempt control of the physicians. Pharma reps are skilled at what they do. They are highly trained and very well-paid to effect influence in their market’s physicians. They take them on dinners, bring the office lunches, pay for trips, etc. You can spot them at any doctor’s office you go to. Just look for the well-dressed person in the waiting room with a clip board and a bag of goodies. That’s them!

I had a general practitioner that I had to finally fire. I had been living a bit unhealthy for several months when I went for a yearly checkup. My blood pressure was high. He immediately tried to put me on life-long meds. I was overweight and drank a 12-pack of Bud Light here and there while traveling in a band playing music. You might say that I used to be a little bit ornery. Again, I was admittedly behaving badly. His diagnosis was that I was depressed and needed an anti-depressant. Really?

Instead of trying some behavior modification, according to him, I needed life-long blood pressure meds and life-long antidepressant meds. Where does this mentality come from? What if we treat the CAUSE rather than the SYMPTOM?

First, I lost weight and started to behave. Guess what? My blood pressure returned to normal. As a result of ceasing traveling in a band, I basically quit drinking beer outside of social events. Boom! I was no longer depressed according to his definition.

This may seem like an extreme example to some but, it is my estimation that this sort of “doctoring” and “pill pushing” is far more common than one may even dream.

I am in no way against the medical field or against surgery or against medicine. I am against simple pill fixes. I’m against long-term meds when not needed. There are some conditions like diabetes or genetic high blood pressure that require long-term meds but, in many cases, they should be avoided. I’m against the medical field performing shots and surgeries and using opioids for musculoskeletal pains when the research is clear when it recommends chiropractic, massage, etc.. for those pains.

Basically, the medical field needs to stop thinking the pills are the be all – end all of healthcare and start looking more to the cause rather than just treating the symptoms. The physicians need to take the reins of their profession away from the pharmaceutical companies and wield the power over pharma that they attempt to wield over chiropractic and other alternative means of healthcare.

Enough about them for this episode. 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 016: Review of The Lancet Article on Low Back Pain (Pt. 1)

Bibliography
Papanicolas I (2018). “Health Care Spending in the United States and Other High-Income Countries.” JAMA 319(10): 1024-1039.

CF 019: Non-Opioid More Effective While Chiropractic Maintenance May Be The Most Effective

Non-Opioid More Effective While Chiropractic Maintenance May Be The Most Effective

This Chiropractic Forward podcast this week is a bit of a mishmash of a couple studies that will ultimately intertwine into a valid discussion including chiropractic maintenance and a discussion about non-opioid vs. opioids.

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.

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.

You have moonwalked into episode #19. I hope you have enjoyed the previous episodes. Particularly the last six which were a part of a series all debunking the “Chiropractors Cause Strokes” myth and then another series of podcasts reviewing the lancet articles on low back pain. The Chiropractic profession NEEDS you to share those 6 episodes in particular

Now, since we have covered the impact of the opioid crisis exhaustively, I will cover it only briefly for reference purposes.

  • 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 fits into the 20% that apparently never suffers from any low back pain.
  • 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. Did you know that an equal number of patients first seek help with a chiropractor as seek help with a medical practitioner for back pain?
  • Back pain in general costs $100 billion dollars every year when you factor in lost wages and productivity, as well as legal and insurance overheads.

Should there be any doubting the necessity of non-pharmacologic treatments for low back pain at this point, then a person is simply beyond help. We can only refer you to a report from the Executive Office of the President of the United States’ report titled “The Underestimated Cost of the Opioid Crisis” put forth by the Council of Economic Advisers in November of 2017[1].

That reminds me, that paper citation as well as any others we talk about here will be in the show notes so always check out www.chiropracticforward.comfor those show notes.

The report paints a fairly complete picture of this national crisis. The medical field helped create the national crisis. Now, will they help put the fire out? It seems the answer to that question is, “Yes!”

Now that the nation and the medical field understand the danger of opioids, we are certainly starting to see an increase in research having to do with opioids. A brand new paper of particular note was published March 6, 2018 in JAMA, performed by Dr. Erin Krebs, MD, et. al. and is titled “Effect of Opioid vs. Nonopioid Medications on Pain-Related Function in Patients With Chronic Back Pain or Hip or Knee Osteoarthritis Pain. The SPACE Randomized Clinical Trial [2].”

Why They Did It

How They Did It

  • 240 subjects
  • 12-month trial
  • Randomized with masked outcome assessments
  • Test subjects experienced moderate to severe chronic back, hip, or knee osteoarthritis pain despite analgesic use.
  • Interventions tested were opioids and nonopioids
  • The first step of the opioid group included immediate-release morphine, oxycodone, or hydrocodone/acetaminophen
  • The nonopioid group’s first step was acetaminophen or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug.
  • Medication was changed and/or adjusted within each group according to patient response.
  • The main outcome assessment used was Brief Pain Inventory (BPI) scale.

What They Found

  • 240 subjects completed the trial
  • There was little difference between the two groups in terms of function over the course of the 12 months of testing.
  • Pain intensity was actually much more improved (statistically significant) in the NONopioid group.
  • Adverse harms (bad side-effects) were significantly greater in the opioid group.

Wrap It Up

Results do not support initiation of opioid therapy for moderate to severe chronic back pain or hip or knee osteoarthritis pain.”

Again, I don’t wish to belabor a point we have covered several times but, for the purpose of this discussion, we must mention them. The medical field is stepping up to the challenge slowly but, I would argue significantly. The American College of Physiciansupdated their treatment recommendations for chronic and acute low back pain just last year. In the report[3]they recommended spinal manipulation prior to taking ibuprofen or other over-the-counter NSAIDs for low back pain. One month later, in JAMA (the journal for the American Medical Association) there was a paper demonstrating the effectiveness of spinal manipulative therapy[4]. IN JAMA!! The significance of this cannot be overstated.

Next, let us talk a little bit about chiropractic treatment for low back pain, what it looks like, and whether chiropractic maintenance care really makes any sense. that recommend preventative (AKA Wellness Care) to their patient bases.

Let me start by stating my opinion and the opinion of most evidence-based chiropractors I would assume: active, complaint-focused treatment should have a start and it should have an end. Plain and simple, cut and dry. How does chiropractic maintenance fit in there?

If a patient is coming in for a complaint such as neck pain, the practitioner should decide whether the pain is acute, subacute, or chronic and, based on history and exam findings, be able to give some good, responsible recommendations for the treatment of the complaint. Typically, the acute schedule will be shorter in terms of treatments and time vs. a chronic condition. A chronic condition is more difficult to treat and one would reasonably expect the schedule for a chronic condition to be longer and more intense. The CCGPP guides[5]can be useful for this sort of decision-making.

For example, Medicare has broken down how they value diagnosis codes into groups A-D. In their system, the secondary diagnosis codes can be the difference between seeing a patient only 12 times or as much as 30 visits for a specific complaint. A simple low back pain diagnosis or muscle spasm diagnosis garners 12 visits from Medicare while degeneration of lumbar intervertebral disk or lumbar spinal stenosis will indicate up to 30 visits for treatment.

In the personal injury world, according to the Quebec Taskforce on Whiplash Associated Disorders, if a patient is assessed with a Grade III whiplash, assuming complications, they can be treated up to 76 visits over 56 weeks. That’s a lot of treatment but the length of treatment reflects the severity of injury as a Grade III whiplash is associated with ligament tearing and/or neurological findings.

For more information on general guides for practice protocol, please reference a previous blog of ours on the topic at https://www.amarillochiropractor.com/valuable-reliable-expert-advice-clinical-guides-practice/or listen to our podcast at https://www.chiropracticforward.com. The guides can be found in Episode #5 which can be found at this link: https://www.chiropracticforward.com/2018/01/18/cf-episode-5-valuable-reliable-expert-advice-on-clinical-guides-for-your-practice/

What does all of that have to do with chiropractic maintenance care? The point being made is that there are a lot of different chiropractors. Seventy thousand plus in America alone and, although there are guidelines out there, chiropractors do not typically seem to have a general overall desire to implement them. One chiropractor may tell you that they will need to see a chronic neck pain patient 50 visits a year to clear it up while another may see the same condition for 18-20 visits. This is not only frustrating for chiropractors, it’s highly frustrating for patients as well.

Of course, this is not true but, don’t chiropractors commonly recommend preventative or chiropractic maintenance care that may resemble “rest of your life” care? It’s my opinion that once a complaint resolves, patients should see their chiropractor once a month. Minimally, they should be seen once every two months. That is chiropractic maintenance and that is my opinion. I will find more than a handful of chiropractors that will disagree with me on both ends of the spectrum but the key to the idea is “chiropractic maintenance” care in some sort of ongoing fashion.

There is research for chiropractic maintenance care. Take this paper from 2011 for example. It is by MK Senna, it’s titled “Does maintained spinal manipulation therapy for chronic nonspecific low back pain result in better long-term outcome?” and was published in the prestigious Spine journal[6]. For the purpose of this study, keep in mind that SMT stands for spinal manipulation therapy. Also of special note is that chiropractors perform over 90% of SMTs in America so I commonly interchange SMT or spinal manipulation therapy with the term “Chiropractic Adjustment.”

Why They Did It

The authors of this paper wanted to check how effective spinal manipulation, also known as chiropractic adjustments, would be for chronic nonspecific low back pain and if chiropractic maintenance adjustments were effective over the long-term in regards to pain levels and disability levels after the initial phase of treatment ended.

How They Did It

  • 60 patients having chronic low back pain of at least six months duration
  • Randomized into three different groups:
  • 12 treatments of fake treatment for one month
  • 12 treatments of chiropractic adjustments for a month only
  • 12 treatments for a month with maintenance adjustments added every 2 weeks for the following 9 months.
  • Outcome assessments measured for pain and disability, generic health status, and back-specific patient satisfaction at the beginning of treatment,

What They Found

  • Patients in groups 2 and 3 had significant reduction in pain and disability scores.
  • ONLY group 3, the group that had chiropractic maintenance adjustments added, had more reduction in pain and disability scores at the ten-month time interval.
  • The groups not having maintenance adjustments, pain and disability scores returned close to the levels experienced prior to treatment.

Wrap It Up

The authors conclusion is quoted as saying, “SMT is effective for the treatment of chronic nonspecific LBP. To obtain long-term benefit, this study suggests maintenance SM after the initial intensive manipulative therapy.”

For my own wrap up this week I would say simply this:

  • Low back pain is a significant issue for Americans
  • It is one of the biggest reasons people get hooked on opioids
  • As shown above, opioids are no more effective than non-opioids so why would anyone use them?
  • Chiropractic has been shown superior to nonopioids (specifically Diclofenac[7])
  • The big boys of the medical field (ACP and AMA) and the White House itself are recommending chiropractic for the treatment of low back pain before using even NSAIDs

So, why is this even in the discussion phase rather than the implementation phase? Why are we not inundated with low back pain patients at this very minute?

We have to go back to a different White House report that came out recently discussing the fact on page 57 of the report that although chiropractic has been proven effective, barriers to chiropractic treatment have been put in place by CMS and health insurance providers[8].

The specific wording is as follows: “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.” “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.”

It’s all there. It’s simple. All we can do is continue to tell everyone and beg for your help in telling everyone as well.

It is up to us to spread the good news and all it takes is hitting the Share button on social media. Retweet, help get the word out.

I challenge you to tell your people. It’s so easy but it takes a little initiative on your part. You actually have to do something now. Your profession is poised on the edge of stepping into a role it is uniquely able to fulfill and excel in but NOT unless we reach out and take that role and hold onto it.

Our effectiveness is proven. It’s time. Help us help you. I’m not asking for donations. I don’t want your money. I want your influence. So do us a favor if you will and share this information and, if it didn’t get the response you hoped for, share it again. Print out the parts of this article you find particularly effective and send it to medical practices in your area.

Make a difference.

Did you know that research and clinical experience shows that, in about 80%-90% of headaches, neck, and back pain, in comparison to the traditional medical model, patients get good or excellent results with Chiropractic? Chiropractic care is safe, more cost-effective, it decreases your chances of having surgery, and it reduces your chances of becoming disabled. We do this conservatively and non-surgically. In addition, we can do it with minimal time requirements and minimal hassle on the part of the patient. And, if the patient develops a “chiropractic maintenance” mindset going forward from initial recovery, 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.

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.

Source Material

  1. The Council of Economic Advisers, The Underestimated Cost of the Opioid Crisis. 2017: The Executive Office of the President of the United States of America.
  2. Krebs E, Effect of Opioid vs Nonopioid Medications on Pain-Related Function in Patients With Chronic Back Pain or Hip or Knee Osteoarthritis Pain – The SPACE Randomized Clinical Trial.JAMA, 2018. 319(9): p. 872-882.
  1. Qaseem A, Noninvasive Treatments for Acute, Subacute, and Chronic Low Back Pain: A Clinical Practice Guideline From the American College of Physicians.Ann Intern Med, 2017. 4(166): p. 514-530.
  2. Page N, Association of Spinal Manipulative Therapy With Clinical Benefit and Harm for Acute Low Back Pain.Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA), 2107. 317(14): p. 1451-1460.
  3. Baker G, Algorithms for the Chiropractic Management of Acute and Chronic Spine-Related Pain.Topics in Integrative Health Care, 2012. 3(4).
  4. Senna MK, Does maintained spinal manipulation therapy for chronic nonspecific low back pain result in better long-term outcome?Spine (Phila Pa 1976), 2011. Aug 15; 36(18): p. 1427-37.
  5. Wolfgang J, e.a., Spinal HVLA-Manipulation in Acute Nonspecific LBP: A Double Blinded Randomized Controlled Trial in Comparison With Diclofenac and Placebo.Spine, 2012. 38(7).
  6. The President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and The Opioid Crisis. 2017.