affordable healthcare act

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 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 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)

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

CF 016: Review of The Lancet Article on Low Back Pain (Pt. 1)

Low Back Pain: A Major Global Challenge

On the Chiropractic Forward podcast this week, we are going to do a review of The Lancet article on Low Back Pain. It is a recent paper published in march 2018 that we hope will have a powerful impact in the months and years to follow. 

Before we get started with this review of The Lancet article on Low Back Pain, I want to draw your attention our website at 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.

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. 

You have illegally u-turned into Episode #16 and criminals are welcome so make yourself at home. Again, we are doing a review of The Lancet article on Low Back Pain.

I’ve been battling a head cold and depending on the day, the head cold is winning. I hope you’ll excuse my graveled voice and my nasal presentation. I’ll do my best on this review of The Lancet article on Low Back Pain. 

Those of us that are hungry for new research and the recommendations that arise from the body of literature being constantly created were excited last week about the release of significant reports coming out in a highly respected research journal called The Lancet. 

Founded in 1823, The Lancet is published weekly is is one of the oldest, most respected, and most well-known medical journals in the world so when it was announced a series of papers were to be published in The Lancet having to do with low back pain, as you may imagine, those of us interested in the research world and musculoskeletal complaints were all ears. 

Not only was the article noteworthy due to its being published in The Lancet, but it was also exciting for those of us in the so-called alternative healthcare world because there were several Doctors of Chiropractic sitting on the steering committee for the series of reports. For some reason, chiropractors are still considered by many to be alternative while this group of papers suggest chiropractic may be a lot more than simply “alternative.”

There are a couple of things in my mind that stand out as reasons for such a series of papers. The first being that low back pain has become a major problem globally and show no sign of stopping the growth of it impact. The second reason would be the ineffectiveness of the treatments commonly used or recommended. This includes surgery, epidural steroid injections, and, the most notable of failed treatments, opioids.

The series of Low Back Pain papers were compiled by a team of leading experts on back pain. The team was made up of an international spectrum  of varied backgrounds. They met for a workshop in Buxton, UK, in June, 2016, to start the journey and the process of setting the outline and some sort of structure for each paper. 

It was quite an undertaking from quite the group of experts. This is not a group of papers to be ignored since these authors and researchers are among the best of the best globally. 

The papers were broken down as follows:

      1. What low back pain is and why we need to pay attention.
      2. Prevention and treatment of low back pain: evidence, challenges, and promising directions. 
      3. Low back pain: a call for action

In this article, I will cover the first of the three papers with plans to highlight the next two papers in the coming weeks so be sure to return for those important discussions. 

How They Did It

For this paper, again titled “What low back pain is and why we need to pay attention,” the researchers identified scientific studies through searches of databases:

  • MEDLINE (PubMed)
  • Scopus. 
  • Google Scholar
  • African Index Medicus Database

In this review of The Lancet article on Low Back Pain I think it’s important to re-iterate the authors assertion that, in order to ensure a high-quality standard, systematic reviews were shown preference for inclusion.

Summary of the introduction of the first paper. 

  • Low back pain is now the leading cause of disability worldwide.
  • Only a small percentage have a well-understood, definite cause for their low back pain. Examples of well-known and udnerstood causes are things like a vertebral fracture, malignancy, or infection.
  • Things that seem to raise the risk of having low back pain complaints would be populations that smoke regulary, people that have physically demanding jobs or routine jobs or jobs that keep them mostly sedentary throughout the day and throughout the work week, people with physical and mental issues that add to a low back complaint or contribute to a low back complaint, and overweight/obese people. These populations are all at risk for developing low back pain.
  • 540 million people were affected at any one time globally.
  • A systematic review (3097 participants) found several MRI findings had a reasonably strong association with low back pain, including Modic type 1 change, disc bulge, disc extrusion, and spondylolysis. To further define Modic 1 changes, in regular vertebral endplate bone, the trabeculae shoud be like a type of scaffolding. Within the trabeculae there is red bone marrow producing blood cells. In a Modic type 1, the trabeculae are fractured intermittently and the patterns are more erratic and the marrow is absent. In the marrow’s place now is serum which is the same substance one can find in a blister. 

Symptoms associated with low back pain

Radicular Pain and Radiculopathy

  • Radiculopathy is usually called sciatica and mostly occurs when there is involvement where the nerve root exits the spine.
  • The authors noted that the term sciatica is used inconsistently by doctors and the public in general and should probably be avoided all together. 
  • The diagnosis of radicular pain relies on clinical findings, such as history of dermatomal leg pain, leg pain that is actually worse than the back pain, aggravation of the symptom when bearing down such as in coughing, sneezing, lying on your back and raising heels off of the table or in going from seated to standing, and straight leg raise test. General rule of thumb for an SLR is that pain in the first 30 degrees of leg elevation hints at a disc origin since that is the movement that first starts to tension the nerve at the root.
  • Patients presenting with low back pain in addition to radicular pain or radiculopathy tend to have worse outcomes than those presenting with low back pain alone.

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

  • I tell my patients that the simplest way to explain stenosis is to say that a hole that nerves run through has become smaller and, as a result, the nerves sometimes have pressure on them that can cause them to be somewhat dysfunctional. 
  • Lumbar spinal stenosis is clinically characterized by pain or discomfort with walking or standing that radiates into one or both legs and can be eased resting and almost always by lumbar flexion (neurogenic claudication). They call this the shopping cart sign. Meaning, if a person gets relief from leaning on a shopping cart, it sure may be stenosis. If it is aggravated by leaning back or by inducing a “swayback” type of movement, that sure may be stenosis. As a sidenote and from my own studies, if lumbar extension (or swayback) does not hurt, but then rotation in either direction at the endpoint of lumbar extenstion actually does increase the pain, then the patient is likely suffering from a lumbar facet complaint. 
  • Lumbar stenosis is commonly caused by narrowing of the spinal canal or intervertebral foramina as a result of a combination of degeneration such as facet osteoarthritis, ligamentum flavum hypertrophy, and bulging discs. Two or three of these factors can combine to reduce the size and space available for the neural structures to pass through. Obviously that can create issues.
  • Experts tend to agree that the diagnosis of stenosis requires both the presence of the symptoms in addition to imaging findings demonstrating stenosis.

Other causes of Low Back Pain

  • Vertebral fracture, inflammatory disorders, malignancy, infections, intra-abdominal causes.
  • The US guideline for imaging advises deferral of imaging pending a trial of therapy when there are weak risk factors for cancer or axial spondyloarthritis. What does that mean exactly? That means a trial of conservative care. The authors will delve further into this in the second paper from the Lancet series but I will butt my head in here with the opinion of the American College of Physicians. Their updated recommendations from February of 2017 reflect that doctors should be recommending Chiropractic, massage, and/or ice for acute low back pain and should recommend Chirorpactic, acupuncture, and/or exercise/rehab for chronic low back pain. These recommendations are to precede taking even ibuprofen. 


  • Approximately 40% of 9-18-year olds in high-income, medium-income, and low-income countries report having had low back pain.
  • Low back pain prevalence increased 54% since 1990.
  • It is the number one cause of disability globally

Work Disability

Social Identity & Inequality

  • MacNeela and colleagues reviewed 38 separate qualitative studies in high-income countries. They showed found common traits, including: worry and fear about the social consequences of chronic low back pain, hopelessness, family strain, social withdrawal, loss of job and lack of money, disappointment with health-care encounters (in particular with general practitioners), coming to terms with the pain, and learning self-management strategies.
  • Froud and colleagues reviewed 42 qualitative studies from high-income countries, and found that many people living with low back pain struggled to meet their social expectations and obligations and that achieving them might then threaten the credibility of their suffering, with disability claims being endangered. Sometimes we have to almost force low back patients back into the workforce and, did you know that studies show in general that the sooner people are returned to work, the better they tend to recover from the low back pain complaint?
  • Schofield and colleagues found that individuals who exit the workforce early as a result of their low back pain have substantially less wealth by age 65 years, even after adjustment for education. This is just an obvious statement. It makes sense that people that quit working earlier than 65 end up making less money by the time they reach 65. You can also throw the expense of dealing with a back pain complaint in on top of the loss of wages. 
  • Globally, low back pain contributes to inequality. At first, when I read this, it struck me as being silly. Everything’s about inequality these days isn’t it? Certainlly in America it seems. But, this is a little different when you read through the explanation. The authors go on to say that in low-income and middle-income countries, poverty and inequality might increase as participation in work is affected. In addition, regulations on how to properly re-introduce a person into the workforce are absent, and workers are likely to be placed right back into the job they were originally injured without proper re-introduction. The authors felt this might place more strain on family and community livelihoods.

Cost of Low Back Pain

  • Costs associated with low back pain are commonly tallied as direct medical costs, meaning the cost of the doctor’s bill. They are also tallied in terms of indirect costs; meaning the cost of being out of work and the loss of productivity at the work place.
  • Most studies underestimate the total costs of low back pain
  • Although we do not think of low back pain in these terms yet, the truth is that low back pain, in terms of a real problem as far at the cost to treat and the overall indirect costs, are right up there with the biggest issues the global pupulation faces. Issues such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, mental health, and autoimmune diseases. That’s huge. 
  • In the USA, 44% of the population used at least one complementary or alternative health-care therapy in 1997; and the most common reason was low back pain. with 70,000 plus chiropractors in the United States, I can tell you with some confidence the profession most associated with alternative treatment for low back pain or spinal pain of any sort is chiropractic care. 
  • The USA has the highest costs, attributable to a more medically intensive approach as well as higher rates of surgery compared with other high-income countries. We see patients every week that have gone through needless surgeries. Surgeries for which there is plenty of high-level research proving its ineffectiveness yet you see the popularity for these surgeries continuing to rise. 

Natural History

  • A systematic review (33 cohorts; 11?166 participants) provides strong evidence that most episodes of low back pain improve substantially within 6 weeks, and by 12 months average pain levels are low. However, two-thirds of patients still report some pain at 3 months and 12 months
  • The best evidence suggests around 33% of people will have a recurrence within 1 year of recovering from a previous episode.

Risk Factors and Triggers for Low Back Pain Episodes

      • A systematic review (5165 participants) found consistent evidence that people who have had previous episodes of low back pain are at increased risk of a new episode. Likewise, people with other chronic conditions, including asthma, headache, and diabetes, are more likely to report low back pain than people in good health
      • a UK cohort study found psychological distress at age 23 years predicted incident low back pain 10 years later. The Canadian National Population Health Survey with 9909 participants found that pain-free individuals with depression were more likely to develop low back pain within 2 years than were people without depression
      • systematic reviews of cohort studies indicate that lifestyle factors such as smoking, obesity, and low levels of physical activity that relate to poorer general health are also associated with occurrence of low back pain episodes. We know that obesity and lack of exercise has become an American trait that needs to be reversed. 
      • A systematic review found the genetic influence on the liability to develop low back pain ranged from 21% to 67%, with the genetic component being higher for more chronic and disabling low back pain than for inconsequential low back pain.Don’t we all have patients that present to us claimng that their bad back just runs in the family? Mom and Grandma had a bad back so that must be why they have a bad back is the common sentiment. It seems there may be a bit of validity there. 
      • An Australian case-crossover study (999 participants) showed that awkward postures, heavy manual tasks, feeling tired, or being distracted during an activity were all associated with increased risk of a new episode of low back pain. Similarly, work exposures of lifting, bending, awkward postures, and tasks considered physically demanding were also associated with an increased risk of developing low back pain in low-income and middle-income countries

Psychological Factors

For this review of The Lancet article on Low Back Pain, the presence of psychological factors in people who present with low back pain is associated with increased risk of developing disability even though the mechanisms are not fully understood

Social and Societal Factors

      • Cross-sectional data from the USA (National Health Interview Survey 2009–10, 5103 people) found that those with persistent low back pain were more likely to have had less than high-school education and had an annual household income of less than US$20,000. 
      • Suggested mechanisms for the effect of low education on back pain include environmental and lifestyle exposures in lower socioeconomic groups, lower health literacy, and health care not being available or adequately targeted to people with low education.
      • To go along with lower wages, the lower socioeconomic groups are commonly in routine and manual occupations and ahve increased physical workloads is associated with disabling low back pain


In this review of The Lancet article on Low Back Pain, the authors concluded, “Low back pain is now the number one cause of disability globally. The burden from low back pain is increasing, particularly in low-income and middle-income countries, which is straining health-care and social systems that are already overburdened. Low back pain is most prevalent and burdensome in working populations, and in older people low back pain is associated with increased activity limitation. Most cases of low back pain are short-lasting and a specific nociceptive source cannot be identified. Recurrences are, however, common and a few people end up with persistent disabling pain affected by a range of biophysical, psychological, and social factors. Costs associated with health care and work disability attributed to low back pain are enormous but vary substantially between countries, and are related to social norms, health-care approaches, and legislation. Although there are several global initiatives to address the global burden of low back pain as a public health problem, there is a need to identify cost-effective and context-specific strategies for managing low back pain to mitigate the consequences of the current and projected future burden.”

Key Takeaway:

Obviously, if you followed us all the way through on this review of The Lancet article on Low Back Pain, low back pain is an issue that must be addressed in a more effective way globally and irregardless of national ranking in terms of the economy. Just because it’s musculoskeletal doesn’t mean it can be ignored and kicked to the curb while the big stuff like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer are treated. The research for the big stuff is adequately funded but, honestly, in general, most general practitioners don’t have the first clue of what to do for low back pain. I personally suggest they turn to their own American College of Physicians for updated recommendations on chronic and acute low back conditions if I were them. 


Steering Committee

Rachelle Buchbinder – Australia

Jan Hartvigsen – Denmark

Dan Cherkin – United States

Nadine Foster – UK

Chris Maher – Australia

Martin Underwood – UK

Maruits van Tulder – Netherlands

For this week’s Next Steps in this review of The Lancet article on Low Back Pain, be sure to send us an email at and let us know what you thought or contribute to the show for next week. We love hearing from you all. Also, go and follow Jan Hartvigsen, and Chris Maher on Twitter. 

Next week we will review the second paper of this three paper series. Next week’s paper is called “Prevention and treatment of low back pain: evidence, challenges, and promising directions.” We’ll go through it bit by bit and hit the highlights for those of you that aren’t into reading research papers and things of that sort. Don’t miss it!

If you love what you hear, be sure to check out As this podcast builds, so will the website with more content, products, and chances to learn. This review of The Lancet article on Low Back Pain is just an example of what you can look forward to.

We cannot wait to connect again with you next week for review of The Lancet article on Low Back Pain Part Two. 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. 

Be sure to check out part of our Chiropracrtors Cause Strokes Myth. This is a link to Part Two:

CF 014: DEBUNKED: The Odd Myth That Chiropractors Cause Strokes (Part 2 of 3)



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

This week, we are talking about acute and non-acute low back pain. What are current healthcare guidelines? Why does it matter to chiropractic patients and non-chiropractic patients and are those in the medical field getting (and implementing) the information?

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, and research and how those things all fit into a comprehensive approach for treating different conditions. Thank you for taking time out of your day to give us a listen. I know your time is valuable and I will always try hard to fill our time with valuable content.

We’re going to have more fun this week than stepping on a nail. Which I have done.

Before we dive in, it was so nice we had to do it twice. What am I talking about? I’m talking about bringing on Tyce. Tyce Hergert that is down in Southlake, TX. Owner and operator of Chiropractic Care Center of Southlake as well as Southlake Physical Medicine where he oversees an integrated practice. Dr. Hergert is also the immediate former President of the Texas Chiropractic Association so now he can say what he really thinks. He was the big cheese, the illustrious potentate of chiropractic in Texas.

Although it’s highly unlikely, should you enjoy what Tyce shares with us here today, go and listen to his other guest spot which can be found in Episode #6. You can find episode #6 at the following link:

CF 006: With Dr. Tyce Hergert: Astounding Expert Information On Immediate Headache Relief

Welcome to the show Tyce. Nice to have you back.

I would say that a chiropractor would be completely oblivious to not understand that Chiropractic is considered to be on the fringe of healthcare by many to most in the medical field. It’s just a fact and chiropractors deal with this daily. We Chiropractors are used to feeling like the black sheep of the healthcare family off in a corner keeping all to ourselves.

In other articles, podcasts, and videos of mine, you’ll notice I have covered the Wilk vs. AMA case. I’ve covered the Doctored film by Jeff Hayes spotlighting mistreatment of chiropractors. I’ve also covered current attacks on Texas Chiropractors by the Texas Medical Association. It is all very well-documented at this point.

Chiropractic is currently undergoing an amazing renaissance. This is due to a couple of key factors. The first being the need to develop non-pharmacological treatment recommendations in the midst of a national opioid addiction crisis. A crisis that has killed thousands and thousands in the last several years. The second reason being the body of high-quality research that is consistently coming to light almost every month showing the effectiveness of Chiropractic and evidence-based chiropractors.

Do you feel this renaissance, Tyce, or is it just me living inside my head?

With all of the new information and new healthcare laws emerging, the questions going forward SHOULD be, “Is the medical field and is the insurance industry listening and implementing?” We shall see. So far, the answer is, “Absolutely not.” In fact, it’s almost defiant.

Is that an accurate statement Tyce? You’re my checks and balance guy on everything.

Let’s begin with the most glaring denial of Federal Law by the insurance companies right now. It has to do with Section 2706 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Also commonly known as “Obamacare.” Section 2706 of the PPACA is entitled the nondiscrimination In Health Care section of the Federal Law and is intended to keep insurance companies and health plans from keeping chiropractors and the services they provide out of the system.

It reads as follows, “A group health plan and a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage shall not discriminate with respect to participation under the plan or coverage against any health care provider who is acting within the scope of that provider’s license or certification under applicable State law. This section shall not require that a group health plan or health insurance issuer contract with any health care provider willing to abide by the terms and conditions for participation established by the plan or issuer. Nothing in this section shall be construed as preventing a group health plan, a health insurance issuer, or the Secretary from establishing varying reimbursement rates based on quality or performance measures.”

On the American Chiropractic Association’s FAQ site for 2706, they state, “It is important to understand that Section 2706 and its assurance of non-discrimination in terms of participation and coverage requires that doctors of chiropractic not be discriminated against in the provision of any “essential benefit” that is within their scope of practice.”

Here’s the rub on 2706: part of its purpose is to reimburse chiropractors performing the same services under their scope and license at the same level financially as any other profession that provides that service.

For instance, under the PPACA Section 2706 Federal Law, chiropractors are to be paid the exact same for an 99203 exam code as a doctor of medicine or osteopathy is paid.

Would you agree with that assessment Dr. Hergert? Is this your understanding of the law?

Plain and simple. This is not happening. With so many chiropractors now integrating their practices with medical directors, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and physical therapists like Dr. Hergert has in Southlake, it’s painfully clear that doctors of chiropractic are being discriminated against when it comes to reimbursements for the same codes performed.

In fact, chiropractors are integrating with these other professions just so that they can finally GET the reimbursements that the other practitioners are allowed! It is madness and clearly violates Section 2706 of PPACA.

Dr. Hergert, you are a great resource here since you’re in the middle of the two professions. What is your experience on this?

Tyce: The carriers will come right out and tell you they don’t think they have to play by this rule.

Also, there is violation of the law if an insurer does something such as applying caps on specific services provided by one healthcare provider whereas the cap does not apply to another type of provider. It is my understanding that United Healthcare has moved to a $65 visit cap on chiropractic care here in Texas.

Am I misinformed here Tyce? Does United Healthcare only put caps on Chiropractors or are they capping services with all providers?
Tyce: That gets very frustrating for those patients with a $50-70 copay.

It is the American Chiropractic Association’s opinion that a violation exists if the insurer or plan denies specific forms of care that is otherwise covered if it is a chiropractor providing the service and it is within their scope and licensing. I would suggest that a medical doctor probably gets services such as non-surgical decompression covered under insurance but chiropractors are routinely denied coverage.

Are there any better examples of this disparity, Tyce, since I don’t know any medical doctors that have their patients perform decompression?

There is a possible violation of Federal Law when Chiropractors are denied inclusion into a plan or group purely based on the profession. For example, it is my understanding that FirstCare won’t cover Chiropractic. Is that a violation of 2706?

Is that a violation? I suppose I could offer an opinion if I were a lawyer. I’m not sure why exactly other providers are allowed coverage while chiropractors are left out in the cold. Here is a great example though that I’m aware of here locally. there is a local insurance network that will remained un-named that charges $200 per year for chiropractors to be included for coverage however, medical professionals pay nothing to be included. Could that be a violation of the nondiscrimination law? I would say it smells a little fishy.

In my opinion, Federal Law is being violated all over the place in regards to Section 2706 of PPACA. I’m not sure how it can be perceived any other way.

What can you add here Tyce that I may have left out?
Tyce: What this means for patients is you can’t use that shiny new insurance policy that is costing you more than a $250k house payment would. You have to fork over the more money to pay for your chiropractic care.

Moving on from Section 2706…..I love talking about the New Recommendations For Acute and Chronic Low Back Pain.
It is becoming more and more aggravating that we chiropractors are not seeing a flood of acute and chronic low back pain patients. If you read my articles, watch my videos, or listen to my podcast with any regularity, you have no doubt been informed several times over of these new recommendations which, at this point aren’t that new anymore. They have been around for about a year now.

It is my opinion that no long-held beliefs or protocols will change if new information isn’t continually pounded and yelled about from the top of the roofs with megaphones. In marketing, experts have said that it takes a target 7 times of being exposed to information before it is finally received and, hopefully, acted upon.

I know that the medical field has NOT been exposed to this information at least 7 times because of two factors:
1. I have spoken to several medical practitioners here locally and not a single one of them has heard of or were aware of these new recommendations.
2. I am not seeing an incredible, overwhelming influx of acute and chronic low back pain new patients coming through my doors as a result of medical referrals.

Tyce, are you seeing an incredible influx of new low back patients from the medical field these days?

Is this willful disregard for the changing recommendations and a “clinging on” to old dogmatic beliefs passed down from the AMA years ago? I think some of it most certainly is.

Is it that a few bad seeds in the Chiropractic profession are giving the rest of us a bad image? I would say some of it most certainly is.

What I think it is mostly based on, however, is the fact that medical professionals are busy, they’re stressed, and many times over-worked and they simply don’t always have the time or opportunity to stay completely up on every new recommendation or updated protocol.

What do you think about it, Tyce?
Tyce: “You’re not down with, what you’re not up on.” Most don’t know. They didn’t get this info in school, and the pharma reps aren’t out spreading the good news.

With that being said, let’s be clear; the issues of low back pain, its economic impact, and the national opioid epidemic crisis in America combine to make these new recommendations that much more important.

Let’s start with the American College of Physicians. Remember, the American College of Physicians was proven in the Wilk vs. AMA case to have played a part in collaborating with the AMA in an attempt to rid the Earth of Chiropractic. I think that’s important to note as we go through the information because the ACP is historically known as a detractor or the chiropractic profession to put it mildly.

In response to the opioid epidemic gripping the nation currently, the American College of Physicians developed new recommendations for treating acute and chronic low back pain.

Why They Did It
• The American College of Physicians developed this guideline in order to provide updated recommendations on treatment of low back pain.
• With these recommendations, the ACP hoped to influence clinicians AND patients to make the correct decision for care in acute, subacute, or chronic low back pain conditions.

How They Did It
• They based their recommendations on a systematic review of randomized controlled trials and other systematic reviews.
• The research they reviewed included those papers available through April of 2015.
• The research included only those on noninvasive pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic treatments.

What They Found
• Recommendation #1: patients with subacute or acute low back pain should seek nonpharmacologic treatments such as Chiropractic, Massage, Acupuncture, and superficial heat BEFORE resorting to non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as Ibuprofen, Tylenol, Aleve, etc… (Graded as a strong recommendation)
• Recommendation #2: patients with chronic low back pain should seek nonpharmacologic treatments such as Chiropractic, Exercise/Rehabilitation, Acupuncture, & Cold Laser Therapy BEFORE resorting to non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as Ibuprofen, Tylenol, Aleve, etc… (Graded as a strong recommendation)
• Recommendation #3: In patients with chronic low back pain that have had no relief from nonpharmacological means, the first line of treatment would consist of NSAIDs like Aleve, Tylenol, Ibuprofen, etc.. As a second-line treatment, the clinician may consider tramadol or duloxetine. Opioids would be a last option and only if all other treatments have been exhausted and failed and even then with lengthy discussion with the patient in regards to the risks and benefits of using opioids. (Graded as weak recommendation)

Let’s recap: in February of 2017, the American College of Physicians, historically a Chiropractic profession detractor and attacker, now recommends Chiropractic as a first-line treatment for acute and chronic low back pain.

Dr. Hergert, does that make you feel warm and fuzzy inside because it does me?

Next, let us discuss the American Medical Association. If you thought the American College of Physicians was guilty of Chiropractic-hating, the American Medical Association is, or was, “Pablo Escobar” or the “El Chapo” of the attacks on the Chiropractic profession. The “El Jefe” of the Chiropractic haters, and the group that not only sat in the driver’s seat but also OWNED the entire truck of destruction back before Wilk vs. AMA came along. I believe I have been watching too much Netflix.

As a side note, I have realized that I have a wife, a daughter, and an all female staff at my office and…..I’m not the El Chapo or El Jefe of really anything. My son and I just walk around following orders pretty much. Tyce, you’re married with two daughters right?

On April 11, 2017, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study on their website titled “Association of Spinal Manipulative Therapy With Clinical Benefit and Harm for Acute Low Back Pain Systematic Review and Meta-analysis,” authored by Neil Page, MD et. al. In the format of this research paper, they refer to chiropractic treatment as spinal manipulative treatment or SMT. But, because spinal manipulative therapy is what we chiropractors do the most and what we are most identified with, I’m replacing the term “SMT” with “chiropractic adjustment.”

Is that fair, Tyce? I think it’s fair.

Why They Did It
Considering that spinal manipulation, or the chiropractic adjustment, is a treatment option for acute low back pain, and that acute low back pain is one of the most common reasons for visits to the doctor’s office, the authors wanted to systematically review the studies that have been done in the past dealing with the effectiveness as well as the harms of chiropractic adjustments in the treatment of acute low back pain.

How They Did It
• The researchers used searches of MEDLINE, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, EMBASE, and Current Nursing and Allied Health Literature.
• The search spanned 6 years from January 2011 through February 2017 for randomized controlled trials of adults with low back pain comparing spinal manipulative therapy with no treatment or with alternative treatments.
• The accepted papers also had to measure pain or functional outcomes for up to 6 weeks.
• The data extraction was done in duplicate.
• The quality of the study was assessed through use of the Cochrane Back and Neck Risk of Bias tool.
• Finally, the evidence was assessed using the GRADE criteria which stands for Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation.
• 26 eligible randomized controlled trials were identified and accepted

What They Found
• 15 of the RCTs, totaling 1699 patients, showed moderate-quality evidence that chiropractic adjustments had a statistically significant association with improvements in PAIN.
• 12 of the RCTs, totaling 1381 patients, showed moderate-quality evidence that chiropractic adjustments have a statistically significant association with improvements in FUNCTION.
• NO RCTs reported any serious harms or adverse event as a result of undergoing chiropractic adjustments.
• There were only minor events reported like some increased pain, muscle stiffness, and headache in roughly 50%-67% of those treated in the large case series. I would be interested to hear more about this statement by the authors. That is not what we commonly see in our practice. Sometimes, if the patient is new and is not accustomed to chiropractic adjustments, they may experience some soreness or stiffness the next day which is to be expected following a change in the body.
• I want to be as thorough as I can here….Tyce, do you see 50%-67% minor harms in your daily practice?

Wrap It Up
In true AMA fashion, instead of just coming out and saying, “Chiropractic adjustments showed moderate quality evidence for effectiveness in pain as well as in function,” the authors instead stated in conclusion, “Among patients with acute low back pain, spinal manipulative therapy was associated with modest improvements in pain and function at up to 6 weeks, with transient minor musculoskeletal harms. However, heterogeneity in study results was large.” Heterogeneity is defined as, “The quality or state of being diverse in character or content.” In my opinion, this is to give themselves and “out” by implying there was not enough focus to the RCTs to truly state their findings as fact.

Nonetheless, when the AMA comes even remotely close to endorsing anything having to do with Chiropractic, I’ll take it. And so should those in the medical field that commonly come in contact with those seeking help for their acute and chronic low back pain.

So…….We Should Be All Set For Success Now Right? Maybe they’re about to open up a chiropractic low back pain wing of the hospital, right?

That is what you’ think but there is new information from the White House that this simply is not the case despite the obvious ramifications. You can find the link in the show notes but on page 57 of The President’s Commission On Combating Drug Addiction and The Opioid Crisis report, the authors say, “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.” This is straight from the White House.

At the bottom of page 57, you will also see that it says, “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.”

What say you Tyce?
Tyce: 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.

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 and the American Medical Association) recommend it and the government says policies are in place to prevent patients from following those recommendations.

In addition, policies that discriminate against chiropractic or chiropractors run in violation of Section 2706 of PPACA. It comes full circle.
I know you have something good to say here Tyce…

Tyce: The beautiful thing we get to see in our office, since we have both medicine and chiropractic working together, is the end of the story…people getting off the mind altering drugs, healing, and getting their lives back. All we do is follow these simple guidelines.

I have a question to pose to the entire Chiropractic profession: How in the heck do we deal with this?

It has to be through either the legislature at the state and federal levels or it has to be through the legal system. A guarantee I feel comfortable making is that the insurance companies won’t begin enforcing it on their own.

Mobilization and unification of the Chiropractic profession is probably where it starts.

Some steps toward that end include:
• Join or get involved with your state association. They’re the only ones effectively fighting for you and your rights on the state level.
• Join or get involved with your national association. They’re the only ones effectively fighting for you and your rights on the national level.
• If possible, build relationships with your state and national legislators.
• Donate to all of the above in the largest amounts you are comfortable with.
• Tell your friends and your colleagues about what is going on and help them get involved if they’re so inclined.
• Follow the news of your industry closely and stay knowledgeable about your profession. Both the good AND the bad.

Tyce, you have served for years and you’re still serving your profession. What you got on this?
Tyce: “Be part of the solution. You don’t have to dedicate 24/7 to the crusade….but you could do a little more. Right?”

A Chiropractic profession that is unified and playing offense instead of defense is powerful and is one of the worst nightmares of some folks I know out there in the world. Personally, as a side note, I like to see people like that squirm just a little don’t you? It just feels good. Makes what’s left of my hair stand up.

So won’t you consider helping if you haven’t before? If you don’t know where to start, email me at and I will help you get on your way.

Tyce, I want to thank you for taking the time to come on the podcast and share your genius with us. With our history, I’m sure that Chiropractic Forward podcast listeners can count on your being a guest many many times. And, the next time will be the third time and I can say something like, “It was so nice, we had to do it thrice, with Tyce….or something stupid but entertaining like that.” Thanks for joining us today.

When Chiropractic is at its best, you cannot beat the risk vs reward ratio.

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

Please feel free to send us an email at dr dot williams at 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 As this podcast builds, so will the website as we add more content, educational products, and a little further down the road, webinars, seminars, and speaking dates as they get added.


In the meantime, here are some of our recent podcasts that may be of interest:

CF 012: Proven Means To Treat Neck Pain

CF 008: With Dr. Craig Benton – Brand New Information Based on Results Chiropractic Proven Effective For Low Back Pain

CF 010: Surprise Unique Information Shows Chiropractic May Work On The Brain Too





We cannot wait to connect again with you next week. From Creek Stone here in Amarillo, TX, home of the Chiropractic Forward Podcast flight deck, this is Dr. Jeff Williams saying upward, onward, and forward.

References and Source Material