CF 144: Common Surgeries Aren’t Well-Researched & Chiropractic Wins Again
Today we’re going to talk about how some of the most common musculoskeletal surgeries aren’t very well-researched and we’ll talk about how chiropractic performs when lined up with multidisciplinary treatment.
But first, here’s that sweet sweet bumper music
OK, we are back and you have found the Chiropractic Forward Podcast where we are making evidence-based chiropractic fun, profitable, and accessible while we make you and your patients better all the way around.
We’re the fun kind of research. Not the stuffy, high-brow kind of research. We’re research talk over a couple of beers. I’m Dr. Jeff Williams and I’m your host for the Chiropractic Forward podcast.
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You have found yourself smack dab in the middle of Episode #144 Now if you missed last week’s episode, we talked about a new paper that came out in JAMA that said spinal manipulative therapy doesn’t work and what our research experts have to say about that and what my big mouth has to say about it. Make sure you don’t miss that info. Keep up with the class. There may come a time you need to take a stance on that.
While we’re on the topic of being smart, did you know that you can use our website as a resource? Quick and easy, you can go to chiropracticforward.com
, click on Episodes, and use the search function to find whatever you want quickly and easily. With over 100 episodes in the tank and an average of 2-3 papers covered per episode, we have somewhere between 250 and 300 papers that can be quickly referenced along with their talking points.
Just so you know, all of the research we talk about in each episode is cited in the show notes for each episode if you’re looking to dive in a little deeper. On the personal end of things…..
I’m trudging through the designated doctor program here in Texas to assess the extent of the injury, return to work, and all of that fun fun stuff. I’m not even sure why I’m doing it. Just to have back up plans. I like multiple streams and I like options. If I get as busy as I was in 2019, I’ll never have the need for it. If it stays where I’m at – 75% of where I was, well it may be something I entertain.
Either way, will it make me a better doctor for personal injuries, work comp, and all patients in general? Hell yeah, it will. Even if I never use it for a DD exam, I’ll be a better doc after going through it. Guaranteed. Even if I don’t pass the damn test!! Which I hear is stupid and has nothing to do with the curriculum. Even if I fail the test, I’ll be better.
It is slowly cooling off here in the Texas Panhandle. While I realize we just went through the longest Spring and Summer known to mankind, I’m going to miss it. Despite all that went into making it the longest Spring and SUmmer ever….I’m going to miss the aspect of time slowing down, sitting on the back patio with my wife, dinner outside in the outdoor kitchen, swimming in the pool, and just being warm in general.
Oh, how I despise the cold weather. Lol. Here’s where you Northerners call me a pansy but….it’s like needles when the cold wind blows. I grew up a couple of hours north of where I live now and there was a difference in weather. At times, it would get bone-chilling cold growing up. I would take a shower in the morning before school, drive there and park, and walk into the school. My wet hair from showering would freeze before I got into the building. Now that’s cold, folks.
I grew up with that, yes, even in Texas. My hometown is called Perryton, TX and it’s only 7 miles from the tiny little strip of Oklahoma and it’s about 45 miles from Kansas. So, it’s not deep in the heart of Texas. It’s way up North.
My point is, I went to school down in Natchitoches, Louisiana, and then lived in Dallas for about 6 years before relocating back to the Texas Panhandle and Amarillo, TX.
Having not been in the cold cold for 8-10 years got me spoiled to the point that I can’t even tolerate cold weather anymore. At all. For any reason. It borderline pisses me off.
Everything dies, it’s cold, it’s windy, people are all yay about pumpkin spice crap, my bones ache a bit, and I’m bitchy 2/3 of the time.
I’m just warning you all, this is what you get to look forward to dealing with for the next 3-4 months. My whiny butt being all cold-weather fussy. But here’s the saving grace and the best thing since sliced bread; the remote start vehicle.
Yes, as any good Texan, I have a pickup and that dude has remote start with defrost and heated seats. You damn right. This is the ONE thing that has made Winter somewhat tolerable for me and, being a good Christian, I thank God and the car companies on the frigid mornings for blessing us all with such wonderous inventions like the remote start.
Now, I don’t want you North Dakota or Canadian friends of mine rolling your eyes too hard at me here. I’m sure you’d melt down here in TX in the Summers so…..we agree to play to our strengths and roll on down the road. Trust me, go through two-a-days in college in Louisiana and tell me how tough you are. Lol. Something you don’t see on TV when you watch football is the humidity. It’s REAL.
I went from three-a-days at one college playing football here in the Texas Panhandle to two-a-days in Louisiana. Not a problem by anyone in the Panhandle but in Lousiana, it looked like a battlefield with players dropping left and right with cramps and having to get IVs there on the practice field….it was insane. So, I’m cold intolerant but I can handle the other end of it. Don’t be too hard on me. Lol.
What does all of this have to do with chiropractic and research? Not a damn thing. Just a little bit of fun rambling and brain dump.
Let’s get on with the real reason we’re here. Item #1
This first one came to me from Dr. Craig Benton, one of my buddies, down in Lampasas, TX where it’s always a bit balmy almost year-round. It’s called “Integrating a multidisciplinary pain team and chiropractic care in a community health center: an observational study of managing chronic spinal pain”
by Prater et. al(Prater C 2020). and published in Journal of Primary Care & Community Health on September 10th of 2020. Holy smokin scorchin’ blaze of newness! Look, y’all should know how I feel about chronic pain by now. This is right down my alley. Not a dark alley. No, one that’s lit up like an airport runway. Bright alley. Why They Did It
They say that chronic pain is one of the most common diseases in the US with the underserved population being most affected for obvious reasons. They say the underserved are at more risk of opioid misuse or overuse since they lack therapeutic access otherwise. For this reason, they are looking for other avenues to provide treatment to chronic pain sufferers. How They Did It
Wrap It Up
- This was a prospective observational pilot study
- Held at a community health center
- Measured the effectiveness of two interventions among the underserved population
- The two interventions were
- Multidisciplinary team
- Chiropractic care
- The outcomes measured were pain and functional disability measured via the Pain Disability Questionnaire and reduction of opioid dosage at 6 and 12 months.
- 35 folks complete baseline and follow-up outcome measures from August 2018 to May 2020
A key finding was quote, “Participants in the chiropractic team and those completing the study before COVID-19 were found to have significantly greater improvement at follow-up.” Well isn’t that sexy? Indeed.
“This observational study within a community health center resulted in improvement in spinal pain and disability with chiropractic care versus a multidisciplinary pain team. Offering similar services in primary care may help to address pain and disability, and hopefully limit external referrals, advanced imaging, and opioid prescriptions.” This was a pilot study with small sample size. Nothing to do backflips about but it’s a start down this path or thinking and learning so hopefully, we’ll see some very cool and very positive things for the chiropractic profession down the line if papers like this continue to come out. Before we get to the next paper, I want to tell you a little about this new tool on the market called Drop Release. I love new toys! If you’re into soft tissue work, then it’s your new best friend. Heck if you’re just into getting more range of motion in your patients, then it’s your new best friend. Drop Release uses fast stretch to stimulate the Golgi Tendon Organ reflex. Which causes instant and dramatic muscle relaxation and can restore full ROM to restricted joints like shoulders and hips in seconds.
Picture a T bar with a built-in drop piece. This greatly reduces the time needed for soft tissue treatment, leaving more time for other treatments per visit, or more patients per day. Drop Release is like nothing else out there, and you almost gotta see it to understand, so check out the videos on the website. It’s inventor, Dr. Chris Howson, from the great state of North Dakota, is a listener and friend. He offered our listeners a great discount on his product. When you order, if you put in the code ‘HOTSTUFF’ all one word….as in hot stuff….coming up!! If you enter HOTSTUFF in the coupon code area, Dr. Howson will give you $50 off of your purchase. Go check Drop Release at droprelease.com
and tell Dr. Howson I sent you. Item #2
I think I got this one from Dr. Craig Benton as well. Dr. Benton is a former guest of this podcast. Sounds like we need to have him back on. He’s my Allstar this week. Thank you, Dr. Benton. For keeping me in business and helping me keep everyone, including myself, educated.
This one is called, “Surgery for chronic musculoskeletal pain: the question of evidence”
authored by Harris et. al(Harris IA 2020). and published in Pain Journal in September of 2020. Blisters!!! I got blisters on my fingers!!! You Beatles fans…..you’ll get it. Why They Did It
They say that globally, the most common reasons surgery is performed relate to the musculoskeletal system, and outside of injury, the most common reasons pertain to arthritis and back or neck pain. AKA – chronic pain. Yes, I love me some chronic pain people! Not suffering from it. Learning about it and treating it.
They say, “Although the surgical treatment of chronic pain generally relies on attributing pain to objective, often visible changes on imaging studies, the causes of chronic pain are more complex and are strongly influenced by psychosocial factors.” Things like Yellow Flags. Go look up yellow flags and Annie O’Connor’s book called World Of Pain please and thank you.
They say that surgeries like debridement of degenerative joints and things of that nature ignore the complexity of chronic pain. They look at surgery as purely mechanistic in nature with little to no involvement otherwise and the procedures often rely on observational evidence only, rather than rigorous, comparative trials.
In addition, they say that when the trials have actually been performed for these surgeries have been mostly subjective and measurements are usually not blinded to reduce the bias of the outcomes.
Do you want yourself or loved ones cut into when the procedure has not been thoroughly investigated, researched, and tested? Uh hell no. No thank you.
This paper was written to demonstrate that observational evidence is not adequate when you consider the costs and risks of surgical intervention. They advocate surgical procedures that should undergo randomized controlled trials with blinding and showing statistical and clinically important symptomatic improvement when compared to no surgery at all.
Wouldn’t you expect that they already do this???? Evidently not. At all, really.
Ultimately in this paper the goal here was to quantify what kind of support exists in the literature for some common procedures. How They Did It
What They Found
- The first thing to do was identify the common procedures performed for chronic pain
- Secondly, they had to identify the number of published RCTs comparing each procedure to a control group treated without that procedure
- They did a search of the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials
- Each paper was reviewed by two independent authors
Wrap It Up
- A very low proportion of the RCTs on the selected procedures compared the procedure to not performing the procedure. 64 from the more than 6,735 studies. Less than 1% if you’re keeping track. Is that not stunning? And infuriating?
- Of those 64, only 9 were favorable to surgery.
- When considering individual surgical procedures, the majority of comparative trials did not favor surgery
- None of the studies using patient blinding for any procedure found it to be significantly better than not having the surgery at all.
We conclude that many common surgical procedures performed for musculoskeletal conditions causing chronic pain have not been subjected to randomized trials comparing them to not performing the procedure. Based on the observation that when such studies have been performed, only 14% (on average) showed a statistically significant and clinically important benefit to surgery; there is a need to produce such high-quality evidence to determine the effectiveness of many common surgical procedures.
Furthermore, the production of high-quality evidence should be a requirement before widespread implementation, funding or professional acceptance of such procedures, rather than the current practice of either performing trials after procedures have become commonplace, or not performing comparative trials at all.” Wouldn’t you like it in the year 2020, when we hear bragging about the amazing advances of medical wonders and technology, and sometimes rightfully so…..would you like it if these things that should go unsaid are actually done? Wouldn’t you like to know that your mom’s spinal surgery procedure was fully vetted? It was researched against not doing it at all? They haven’t done that? Seriously? Look, ever heard of phantom limb pain? Just in case, it’s where a limb is amputated. Cut off completely. Yet, it still hurts. Why the hell does something that is gone and no longer exists still hurt? It’s because chronic pain lives as much or more in the brain as it lives in a peripheral source.
So, if you go in and do surgery on arthritis for a chronic pain sufferer, what are the real chances that you got rid of that pain? How many people have arthritis that commonly doesn’t bother them much at all beyond the first 15 or so minutes after they wake up? The answer isn’t precise but it’s probably a hell of a lot if I’m placing bets.
Did you know that if a person has surgery and they’re in chronic pain syndrome that even if the surgery goes perfectly, they will still have a 60% chance of developing pain at the new site of surgery? That’s what happens when you have a sensitized or upregulated central nervous system. It’s on high alert and using pain to make your future decisions and to protect you. You have to turn the volume down on the central nervous system if you’re ever going to control the pain in the brain. It’s actually the MOST IMPORTANT aspect of treating chronic pain.
How many people get surgery when they don’t need it because the arthritis isn’t really the issue. When the issue actually lies withing the limbic system in the brain? To be fair, how many people get adjusted by the chiropractor a million times because they’re trying to pop out the pain? Hell, doing that a million times only deepens the issue.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s SMT benefit in regard to proprioceptive input, sensorimotor function, movement dysfunction, blood flow, and pain modulation but…..beyond a certain point, it will create instability and that will deepen the issue.
I tell new chronic patients that we treat this issue through a combined approach. They must be approaching the issue from a cognitive aspect simultaneously with my physical treatment as well as the exercise/rehab. If we have that comprehensive, three-pronged approach to their condition, we are going to stand a much better chance at getting this sucker under control.
If you’re adjusting and sending them out the door, that’s low-level and borderline ineffective at best. At the worst, with too many appointments, you compound the issue by adding spinal instability to the mix. Too many chiropractors and subluxation slayers just do not understand this concept. They think they’re being specific. The research is pretty clear. You’re adjusting segments at a time. Not one. You’re not that good.
Alright, that’s it. Y’all be safe. Keep changing the world and our profession from your little corner of the world. Continue taking care of yourselves and taking care of your neighbors. Tough times are upon us but, the sun will shine again. Trust it, believe it, count on it. Let’s get to the message. Same as it is every week. Store
Remember the evidence-informed brochures and posters at chiropracticforward.com
. The Message
I want you to know with absolute certainty that when Chiropractic is at its best, you can’t beat the risk vs reward ratio because spinal pain is primarily a movement-related pain and typically responds better to movement-related treatment rather than chemical treatments like pills and shots. When compared to the traditional medical model, research and clinical experience show us patients can get good to excellent results for headaches, neck pain, back pain, and joint pain to name just a few. It’s safe and cost-effective can decrease surgeries & disability and we do it through conservative, non-surgical means with minimal hassle to the patient. And, if the patient treats preventatively after initial recovery, we can usually keep it that way while raising the overall level of health! Key Point:
At the end of the day, patients should have the guarantee of having the best treatment that offers the least harm. When it comes to non-complicated musculoskeletal complaints…. That’s Chiropractic! Contact
Send us an email at dr dot williams at chiropracticforward.com and let us know what you think of our show and tell us your suggestions for future episodes.
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We can’t wait to connect with you again next week. From the Chiropractic Forward Podcast flight deck, this is Dr. Jeff Williams saying upward, onward, and forward. Website
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Dr. Jeff Williams – Fellow of the International Academy of Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine – Chiropractor in Amarillo, TX, Chiropractic Advocate, Author, Entrepreneur, Educator, Businessman, Marketer, and Healthcare Blogger & Vlogger Bibliography
- Harris IA, S. V., Mittal R, Adie S, (2020). “Surgery for chronic musculoskeletal pain: the questions of evidence.” Pain 161(9): S95-S103.
- Prater C, T. M., Battaglia P, (2020). “Integrating a Multidisciplinary Pain Team and Chiropractic Care in a Community Health Center: An Observational Study of Managing Chronic Spinal Pain.” Journal of Primary Care & Community Health.