Communicating Chiropractic 

Integrating Chiropractors

Today we’re going to talk about communicating chiropractic and chiropractic utilization. What am I talking about? Stick around

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.  

Now that I have you here, 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 when someone new signs up it makes my heart leap a little, and in the end, it’s just polite and we’re polite in the South.  

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.

You have potato sack jumped yourself right into Episode #39. In case you are new to the Chiropractic forward podcast, there is a different way to get into this podcast. Moonwalk, do the twist, electric slid, grooved, you get the point. 

We are talking about communicating chiropractic and I want to start the research part of our podcast today with a pretty cool paper that just passed through my email. I have my buddy and colleague, Dr. Craig Benton down in Lampasas, TX to thank for this one. It’s called “Characteristics of Chiropractic Patients Being Treated for Chronic Low Back and Neck Pain.” It was authored by PM Herman, et. al. and published in the Journal of Manipulative Physiology and Therapeutics on August 15th of 2018[1]. Brand spanking new, people. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30121129

Why They Did It

Since chronic low back and chronic neck pain dominate our population and since chiropractic is a common approach to the conditions, the authors wanted to explore the characteristics of chiropractic patients suffering the conditions here in the United States. Further knowledge here helps with communicating chiropractic more effectively.

How They Did It

  • They collected information from chiropractic patients with different levels of information that included regions, states, sites, providers and clinics, and patients. 
  • The sites and regions were San Diego, Tampa, Minneapolis, Seneca Falls, and Upstate New York, Portland, and Dallas. 
  • Data was collected through an iPad prescreening questionnaire in the clinic and through emailed links to full screening and baseline online questionnaires

What They Found

  • 518 patients with chronic low back pain only
  • 347 with chronic neck pain only
  • 1159 with both chronic low back pain and chronic neck pain. 
  • In general, most participants were highly educated white females that had been using chiropractic care for years. 
  • Over 90% of the participants reported high satisfaction with their care, few used narcotics, and avoiding surgery was the most important reason they chose chiropractic care.

Wrap It Up

The authors concluded, “Given the prevalence of CLBP and CNP, the need to find effective nonpharmacologic alternatives for chronic pain, and the satisfaction these patients found with their care, further study of these patients is worthwhile.”

As a side note, at the first ChiroTexpo event for the Texas Chiropractic Association state convention, these researchers were there recruiting offices for this paper which is kind of cool. 

How much of the population do chiropractors see on average? At least in American? For years, the number has been from 7% to 11% but there is research out there that suggests the number is actually bigger. We can answer that question a little more accurately thanks to some research from Palmer that was published back in 2015. 

This next paper goes more toward helping us in communicating chiropractic than any other paper in recent memory.

It’s called “Americans’ Perceptions of Chiropractic,” it was performed in conjunction with Palmer and Gallup and was submitted by James O’Connor of Palmer and Joe Daly of Gallup[2]. I have linked it in the show notes for you. 

https://www.palmer.edu/uploadedFiles/Pages/Alumni/gallup-report-palmer-college.pdf

The report states from the get-go that half of the adults in the US have been to a chiropractor as a patient. 

  • 14% of adults say they saw a chiropractic within the last 12 months. 
  • 12% say they saw a chiropractor in the last five years
  • 25% say they saw a chiropractor more than 5 years ago
  • Women are more likely to love and visit their chiropractor regularly
  • Adults under 50 are more likely to say that the chiropractor is their first stop for neck or back pain. 
  • Over 50% of adults strongly agree or agree somewhat that chiropractors are effective at treating neck and back pain. 

All of this is great news, y’all. Great news. In the conclusion of this report from Gallup and Palmer College, they say yes…over half of Americans view chiropractors as effective for neck and back pain but uncertainty about costs and misinformation about potential dangers of chiropractic are potential obstacles to them utilizing our services. 

I addressed the whole stroke issue the medical field has tried to saddle us with in a blog, in a YouTube video, and in a series of three podcasts and highly encourage you to re-visit the information in episodes 13, 14, and 15. I will link them for you in the notes. 

The blog, YouTube video, and podcast series is called “DEBUNKED: The Odd Myth That Chiropractors Cause Strokes.”  You must have this information. If you do anything this week, do that. I laid it all out and I did it in blog form, video form, and podcast form so you could pick your preference and get the information. So do it. This information will go a long way in helping you with communicating chiropractic.

YouTube: https://youtu.be/tRXpG_Ie0Rs

Blog: https://www.chiropracticforward.com/blog-post/debunked-the-odd-myth-that-chiropractors-cause-strokes-revisited/

Podcast Episode #13: https://www.chiropracticforward.com/debunked-the-odd-myth-that-chiropractors-cause-strokes/

Podcast Episode #14: https://www.chiropracticforward.com/cf-episode-14-debunked-the-odd-myth-that-chiropractors-cause-strokes-part-2-of-3/

Podcast Episode #15: https://www.chiropracticforward.com/cf-015-debunked-the-odd-myth-that-chiropractors-cause-strokes-part-3-of-3/

The report suggests we try to be transparent when it comes to the costs of chiropractic which also means providing details on insurance coverage, visits required, etc. Here’s the deal though…..if someone comes up to me on the street and asks me how much it costs to come see me, what the hell am I supposed to say?

Quite literally, I don’t have a single damn clue what it’s going to cost them. I don’t know what kind of insurance they have. How do I know if their issue is acute, chronic, or a combination of issues spanning the acute as well as the chronic? I have no way of knowing if their deductible is met. I can’t know what their co-pay is. How can you tell people any of that crap and I’m sure as hell not going to be having a long enough conversation with them when I’m out and about with friends or family to figure it out either. 

Palmer is crazy on that part of this. I’m all about communicating chiropractic but people are grown-ups. They have a Google machine in their pockets. Figure out what your deductible is and how much you’ve met. Figure out what your co-pay is. Google up the offices in your area and try to get an idea of how they practice. If they’re talking about fixing ear infections, boosting your immunes system, and not getting your kids vaccinated, well….chances are they’re going to want to see you 1.23 million times through your lifetime. 

If they’re talking about exercise/rehab, evidence, research, and things of that nature, then they’re going to address your issue quickly and relatively inexpensively. 

Then get on your Facebook machine and ask your friends which evidence-based chiro in your area you need to be seeing and go do that. It’s easier today than ever before. Palmer doesn’t really need to put that directive on chiropractors in my opinion. 

They go on to say that about 37% of Americans are unsure whether or not chiropractic is dangerous. Palmer suggests we chiropractors try communicating chiropractic more clearly in regards to the level of education we have gone through. I think that’s a great suggestion. I do hate the fact that MDs and DOs aren’t going around having to tell everyone about the classes they took and we DCs obviously do need to do that but, it is what it is. You want that in Espanol? Here it is: “Es lo que es.”

Just trying to spice it up, folks. Go with it alright?

The report had some cool news. What news is that you might say? To that, I’d say this: current users of chiropractic typically see their doc an average of 11 times per year which they say shows a strong commitment to chiropractic care.

If the description is a strong commitment to chiropractic care, then count me in. I’m on board. I’m on that team. 

The last sentence of the report says this, “The chiropractic community would do well to increase awareness among the public about the benefits of chiropractic care and the costs associated with it, including offering flexible methods of payment and assistance with navigating insurance, to ensure potential users have what they need to make an informed decision regarding care.”

OK….where to start here?

Dammit. We all know all too well that chiropractors increasing awareness among the public about the benefits of chiropractic care is a slippery slope. Do I want to encourage a chiropractor that doesn’t believe in vaccinations to be out there talking about the amazing benefits of Chiropractic? Ummmm….nope. Nope, I sure don’t. 

Now, if you have a doc talking about how awesome chiropractic is and how spinal manipulation combined with exercise rehab is a powerful combination and is now recommended by the American College of Physicians, JAMA, The Lancet, the FDA, the CDC, The Joint Commission, the current occupant of The White House, and even Consumer Reports…..well hell….I think you have a winner on your hands. That’s what I’m talking about when I say communicating chiropractic. 

Luckily, the only docs listening to me right now are the ones that are going to be talking about the latter rather than the former. 

So listen up evidence-based men and women…..unfortunately, you have to start telling people more about your education and you have to start telling people more about the research and evidence and support behind what it is we do from day to day. 

I’d like to say that it is super duper big-time double fortunate that you have resources like, oh say, maybe a podcast called the Chiropractic Forward Podcast that does all of the work for you by gathering and talking about research every week that can help you on this. 

Now, onto our last topic this week.

This one is an article from June 19, 2018, that was posted on the ACA Blog and linked in the notes on our website for this episode. 

https://www.acatoday.org/News-Publications/ACA-Blogs/ArtMID/6925/ArticleID/374/Communicating-Chiropractic-An-Algorithm-to-Answer-Difficult-Questions

The title of the article is “Communicating Chiropractic: An Algorithm to Answer Difficult Questions[3].” It was written by Dr. Stephanie Halloran who did an excellent job on this article in my opinion. Dr. Halloran is the chiropractic resident with the VA Connecticut Healthcare System.

Dr. Halloran started the article by covering some common questions that can be asked of chiropractors within an interdisciplinary setting. The questions she mentions are:

  • What are the typical conditions treated by chiropractors and specific treatments utilized?
  • We to know the contraindications for treatment?
  • It’s important to be able to describe the mechanisms of manipulation and/or acupuncture?
  • What adverse events from chiropractic treatment, including post-treatment soreness and cervical manipulation and stroke?

All sound like reasonable questions but think about them for a minute. What would your responses be to them and would your answers really stand up to scrutiny in the medical kingdom?

Dr. Halloran cites her site director, VA Chiropractic Program Director Dr. Anthon Lisi as being key in helping her formulate an approach we can use to guide us to develop our own answers to these questions. She lines out 4 steps we should be looking at. 

  1. Have a great depth of knowledge – She says, “First and foremost, you must have an extensive understanding of what you are being asked. Whether the inquiry is as vague as “What is chiropractic?” or more specific, such as “What is the physiologic mechanism of manipulation?” or more sensitive, such as “Does cervical manipulation cause stroke?” it is imperative to know what the evidence does and doesn’t support. “ My goodness…where on Earth could you ever be educated on research and what the evidence says? Hmm….I’ll just wait here until….yes. You’ve found it right here!
  2. Selectively Present that knowledge – Answer with only the most pertinent information. Sometimes less is more and sometimes more is too much information but, be sure you can expound on the neurophysiological effects if specifics are asked.
  3. Be mindful of an appropriate stopping point – She says, “It is reasonable to assume that an encounter will occur at some point with a specialty physician possessing unwavering negative views of chiropractic treatment, and the reality is some will not be swayed despite the evidence presented. The goal of the interaction is to present the evidence, to meet them where they are, and to leave the door open for further conversation at a later date.” And then you punch them in the face and push them down on the playground while saying nanny boo boo. 
  4. Remain altruistic throughout – She says we need to stay focused on the overall goal of health care which is, according to her “to increase functional outcomes, improve quality of life, and provide the best care for patients.” I can get on board with that description myself. 

All of this goes toward helping you in communicating chiropractic. She wraps it up by saying, “In respect to success in integration, my biggest takeaway from being exposed to interprofessional collaboration on a day-to-day basis in the VA is the need for chiropractors to prepare answers to questions regarding what chiropractic care is, common conditions seen, neurophysiological effects of treatment, and the incidence of adverse events. These answers should be instantaneous and provide evidentiary support. One must also be prepared to hit the brakes when met with substantial resistance and to admit lack of familiarity with a topic, when appropriate.”

Can’t we all agree with this article? It makes perfect sense. If you can’t communicate and relay what it is you do, then what are you doing?

This week, I want you to go forward with the idea that we are not a dying profession. We are, in fact, growing and our utilization is growing. We maintain that growth through communicating chiropractic and better patient education as to our level of education and our cost-effectiveness. In addition, in regards to integration, let’s make sure we are prepared to answer questions and do it in a way that is 100% backed by solid and respected research and evidence. You can’t lose when it’s done that way. 

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 are communicating chiropractic, the literature is clear: research and experience show that, in 80%-90% of headaches, neck, and back pain, patients get good to excellent results when compared to usual medical care and it’s safe, less expensive, and decreases chances of surgery and disability. It’s done conservatively and non-surgically with little time requirement or hassle for the patient. If done preventatively going forward, we can likely keep it that way while raising overall 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.

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

Being the #1 Chiropractic podcast in the world would be pretty darn cool. 

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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Bibliography

1. Herman PM, Characteristics of Chiropractic Patients Being Treated for Chronic Low Back and Neck Pain. J Manipulative Physiol Ther, 2018.

2. O’Connor J, Gallup-Palmer College of Chiropractic Inaugural Report: Americans’ Perceptions of Chiropractic. Palmer College of Chiropractic, 2015.

3. Halloran S, Communicating Chiropractic: An Algorithm to Answer Difficult Questions, in ACA Blog, ACA, Editor. 2018: ACA Blog.

This podcast episode was about communicating chiropractic. Communicating chiropractic effectively is a big part of moving the chiropractic profession forward. Bobby Massie Authentic Jersey

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