Will Chiropractic First Finally Take Its Place?

Chiropractic First is on the table today.

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

But first, here’s that bumper music

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why They Did It

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

How They Did It

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

What They Found

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

Wrap Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A quick visit to their website tells us the following:

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Why They Did It

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

How They Did It

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

What They Found

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

Wrap It Up

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

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

Chiropractic led to:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key Takeaways:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Social Media Links



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

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

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

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

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


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