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CF 062: Chiropractic Prevalence, JAMA’s Awful Info on Opioids, & New Info on Screen Time

CF 062: Chiropractic Prevalence, JAMA’s Awful Info on Opioids, & New Info on Screen Time

Today we’re going to talk about chiropractic prevalence, a new article in JAMA with some pretty terrible projections for opioid use and deaths, and new information on kiddos and the time they spend on screens. 

But first, here’s that bumper music

Chiropractic evidence-based productsIntegrating Chiropractors

OK, we are back. Welcome to the podcast today, I’m Dr. Jeff Williams and I’m your host for the Chiropractic Forward podcast.  

You have collapsed into Episode #62

Introduction

We’re here to advocate for chiropractic and to give you some awesome information to make your life easier from day-to-day. We’re going to keep you from wasting time through your week by giving you confidence in your recommendations and in your treatments. This is something I feel confident in guaranteeing you if you listen and stick to it here at the Chiropractic Forward Podcast.  

Evidence-Based Chiropractic Store

Part of saving you time and effort is having the right patient education tools in your office. Tools that educate based on solid, researched information. We offer you that. It’s done for you. We are taking pre-orders right now for our brand new, evidence-based office brochures available at chiropracticforward.com. Just click the STORE link at the top right of the home page and you’ll be off and running. 

DACO

Let’s talk a bit about the DACO program. Man, this is how it goes with the DACO: just yesterday morning, I had a patient come in, mid-’60s and literally everything hurt. Restless leg syndrome was her main complaint but her GP just yesterday already started her on Vitamin D and iron supplements so she’s going in the right direction there. I have heard of acupuncture being good for it as well but have not seen any research on that so can’t make that claim. 

Anyhooo…literally everything hurt, couldn’t sit down and basically, a general overall look of being unwell for a lack of a better word. She just didn’t look healthy. I started asking her about bone scans and she’d never had one. Well, this guy just gets feelings and when I get a feeling, they get sent out. I sent her out for a bone scan. 

No kidding, that afternoon I sit down for a class. The next one up? Yep, diagnosing osteoporosis. Lol. Wouldn’t you know it? Anyway, had I had this class before the encounter with the new patient, I might not have sent her. I’m not sure.

But, it’s just funny how in tune with clinical practice the classes really are. Also, as a consequence of the class, I have a quick sheet made up that changes the way I deal with potential osteoporosis patients from here on out. Forever and ever amen. 

Personal Happenings

So far, not a lot of blowback on my recent episode covering my thoughts on faith-based practices. Sometimes I’m mouthy, right? I get it. Who the hell cares what I have to say? I don’t know who cares honestly. Lol. But, we’re growing and growing so at least some of you identify with my way of thinking.

I’m religious and I think that’s what makes me feel that I can be credible in critiquing certain things in regard to religion. I just have a hard time with management companies coaching their impressionable doctors how to use the bible to manipulate scared patients looking for answers. When I think about it, it makes my pee hot. 

Anyway, it turns out that you guys agree with me and that makes me like you even more. Before you know it, we’re all going to be besties and share milkshakes with two straws and all of that mumbo jumbo. 

I’m glad you’re here with me today as we dive into the information I have for you this week. Here we go. 

Item #1

I want to start with one that had some conclusions I found surprising and somewhat encouraging……sort of. This new paper from The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine published January 18, 2019, and authored by Stephanie Taylor, Patricia Herman, Nell Marshall, and colleagues called “Use of Complementary and Integrated Health: A Retrospective Analysis of US Veterans with Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain Nationally[1].”

Due to time constraints on me, I didn’t go beyond the abstract here so….freaking sue me. I’ll have it cited in the show notes at chiropracticforward.com so you can go get it and dive in you over-over-achiever you with all that time sitting around. Must be nice pal. 

Why They Did It

The authors say that little is known regarding the use of complementary and integrative health therapies for chronic pain in the VA system which is the nation’s largest integrated healthcare system. We will get into chiropractic prevalence briefly.

In my experience, I can echo this paper’s sentiment that the VA is at the forefront of the movement away from opioids and toward alternative healthcare. 

They researched this paper over 2 years for the use of 9 types of alternative therapies that included meditation, yoga, acupuncture, chiropractic, guided imagery, biofeedback, tai chi, massage, and hypnosis. 

What they found

27% of younger veterans with chronic musculoskeletal pain use alternative healthcare

The most used for was meditation at 15%. I found that surprising. Meditation means slowing down, sitting still, relaxing, and all that good stuff. In this day and age, I just have a hard time seeing that as the most prevalent form of alternative healthcare. 

We all think we’re so busy and, for us chiropractors, a lot of us really ARE too busy to stop and meditate. I may just be taking my own personal experience here and assuming everyone else on the planet is like me and, of course, that’s not true. Still, meditation was the most prevalent in this study. 

Yoga was next at 7%. Again, I guess I haven’t realized how popular yoga is getting these days but, I know the VA is pushing it so that may be playing a part in it. 

Coming in in 3rd place we have acupuncture. Once again, it’s surprising to me but, the VA is directing the recommendations and, in the real world, outside of the VA, acupuncture does not out-pace chiropractic. I do believe the VA is seeing it’s use for PTSD and chronic pain though and is responding appropriately. 

Finally, here comes Chiropractic care coasting in in 4th place for chiropractic prevalence.

Ugh. We know outside the enclosed ecosystem of the VA, chiropractic care is not less prevalent than yoga, meditation, and acupuncture. But, being within the VA, we know that medical doctors, PA’s, and nurse practitioners are making these recommendations and referrals so we still clearly have a lot of work to do. We are still a world away from where we need to be in regard to chiropractic prevalence,

You know what else that means though right? There are incredible potential and opportunity. If the VA is an example of the rest of the allopathic world, we could say that even fewer than 5% of chronics get referred to us from the GPs and orthopedic surgeons. I think that’s fair because most of them are unaware of Dr. Christine Goertz’s work that was published in JAMA not long ago.

If you’re unfamiliar with that, go listen to Episode 25 of this podcast. In short, she showed how veterans with chiropractic care mixed in with their traditional care had better outcomes. That’s when we started seeing the referrals from the VA

Also, you’ll notice that all of the nine therapies tracked here were on the list of first-line therapies that came from the updated recommendations by the American College of Physicians in February of 2016[2]. 

I guess my point on the paper here is that the medical world, or at least the VA part of it, is paying attention to research regardless of whether it goes against their previously held biases. They are absolutely trying to reverse the opioid epidemic. And we have a lot of work to do to gain that trust and get those referrals. When they’re recommending meditation before chiropractic care for chronic pain, then there is a ton of room for us to shine. So go shine it up all you shiny happy people out there. 

Item #2

On to item numero dos, number 2 for our non-Spanish speaking population out there. This one is discouraging and…..well….awful if I’m being honest.

This one is from JAMA called “Prevention of Prescription Opioids Misuse and Projected Overdose Deaths in the United States” published on February 1, 2019, and authored by Quiushi Chen, Marc Larochelle, David Weaver, and colleagues[3].

Why They Did It

In JAMA, they always start with the question being answered here. The authors wanted to answer this one: “what is the projected effect of lowering incident non-medical prescription opioid use on the future trajectory of the opioid overdose crisis in the USA?

I’m just going to cut to the chase on it and leave a bunch of details out. Here’s why. I don’t want us getting bogged down in the details and methods and all that stuff.

I want you to be able to retain just a few numbers and not be distracted by the rest of the minutiae. You like that word? I know you do. Minutiae, You say that to the right fellow nerd and you may just get you a date, people.

It’s a powerful word so take it, use it, enjoy it. I swear I’m undiagnosed ADHD. I swear it. 

Anyway, here’s the deal, although we as a nation, as a world, now see the issues with opioids and are now trying to address the issue, It’s not getting better and it won’t get any better according to this paper. 

Check it out, according to this paper, the annual number of opioid overdose deaths is projected to increase from 33,100 in 2015…..then we know that 72,000 died in 2017….all the way up to 81,700 deaths projected 2025. 

They are projecting from 2016-2025 to lose a total of approximately 700,400 people to opioid deaths. They say about 80% of that will be due to illicit opioids. I don’t know how the hell they can tell that but that may be a little bit of, “yeah it’s happening but it’s not our fault,” BS going on there but who knows? In this paper, they’re assuming that the illegal use of opioids will increase from 61% in 2015 to 80% by 2025. I don’t know. Sounds like fuzzy math to me but I’m not a researcher. 

I think their numbers are fuzzy because we know 2015 saw about 36,000 die, but then 2016 saw around 63,000 die if I remember correctly. Then, 2017 saw 72,000 die. Are you seeing the graph there in your mind? It’s not only up and to the right on this deal, but its up and to the right like it’s climbing Mt. Everest. The numbers have harnesses fastened tightly and ropes and expert climbing guides and they’re going straight up the face like pros! 

These guys are guessing that by 2025, in 9 years, the deaths will only have increased a total of 9,000 per year, so….they’ll only increase an average of 1,000 deaths per year. Do you see why I think they’re crazy? The deaths increased by 9,000 just last year. Do you see what I’m saying? I’m not saying they’re wrong but….they’re wrong. Lol. 

They then say that across all interventions tested, further lowering the incidence of prescription opioid misuse from 2015 levels is projected to decrease overdose deaths by only 3%-5.3%. 

Their quoted conclusion is, “This study’s findings suggest that interventions targeting prescription opioid misuse such as prescription monitoring programs may have a modest effect, at best, on the number of opioid overdose deaths in the near future. Additional policy interventions are urgently needed to change the course of the epidemic.”

So what do we take from this exactly? Here’s my deal. On the surface at least it smells like a steaming pot of shoo shoo caca doody, 

Instead of recognizing the fact that unnecessary surgeries were many times the reason people got addicted in the first place, and that there are amazing opportunities outside the allopathic world to prevent those unnecessary and financially motivated surgeries, they say, “Hey look, a lot of this is done illegally and that’s just going to get worse and our part of this is really very small.

In fact, we can lower the prescriptions of opioids but it’s really not going to do a lot of good and, in fact, we think we should still be able to prescribe them as much as we are right now….blah blah blah poop coming out of the mouth and falling onto the floor with a splat. 

They are making guesses 9 years in the future what addict behaviors will be. I think that’s presumptuous and ultimately impossible. I just thought it was entertaining and that you all might enjoy this group trying to minimize responsibility or what role they can really play on decreasing opioid use.

I could totally be mischaracterizing this and they may have the best intentions in mind. While I trust my GP and I trust the friends of mine that are surgeons personally….I just don’t trust stuff like this. 

Obviously, I don’t agree with them but I’m a bumpkin chiro on the Texas Plains. I wouldn’t listen to me if I were them either. Lol. 

Item #3

OK, last item for this week and it’s something I’m admittedly fascinated with and I think that’s because I have a high schooler and a 5th grader and this stuff hits home any time I see it or read about it. 

This one was in JAMA too and called, “Association Between Screen Time and Children’s Performance on a Developmental Screening Test” written by Sheri Madigan, Dillon Browne, Nicole Racine and colleagues[4] published January 28, 2019. 

Why They Did It

The main question they were trying to answer was this, “Is increased screen time associated with poor performance on children’s developmental screening tests?” Basically, does screen time have a direct effect on child development?

They had 2,441 kiddos in it. A random-intercepts, cross-lagged panel model revealed that higher levels of screen time at 24 and 36 months were significantly associated with poorer performance on developmental screening tests at 36 months and 60 months. 

What They Found

Their conclusion was, “The results of this study support the directional association between screen time and child development. Recommendations include encouraging family media plans, as well as managing screen time, to offset the potential consequences of excess use.”

Yes, it’s easy to just hand them a device and hope they’re quiet long enough to get a nap in. Guilty as charged. Guilty as charged. 

But, turns out as we may have guessed if we really thought about it 8-9 years ago when all of this really started….this isn’t in their best interest in the long run. 

Chiropractic evidence-based productsIntegrating Chiropractors

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 instead of chemical treatments like pills and shots.

When compared to the traditional medical model, research and clinical experience show that many patients get good or excellent results through chiropractic for headaches, neck pain, back pain, joint pain, to name just a few.

Chiropractic care is safe and cost-effective. It can decrease instances of surgery & disability. Chiropractors normally do this through conservative, non-surgical means with minimal time requirements or hassle to the patient. 

And, if the patient develops a “preventative” mindset going forward from initial recovery, chiropractors can likely keep it that way while raising the general, overall level of health of the patient!

Key Point:

Patients should have the guarantee of having the best treatment offering the least harm.

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 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.

Help us get to the top of podcasts in our industry. That’s how we get the message out. 

Connect

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

http://www.chiropracticforward.com

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About the Author & Host

Dr. Jeff Williams – Chiropractor in Amarillo, TX, Chiropractic Advocate, Author, Entrepreneur, Educator, Businessman, Marketer, and Healthcare Blogger & Vlogger

 

Bibliography

1. Taylor S, H.P., Marshal N,, Use of Complementary and Integrated Health: A Retrospective Analysis of U.S. Veterans with Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain Nationally. J Altern Complement Med, 2019. 25(1).

2. Qaseem A, Noninvasive Treatments for Acute, Subacute, and Chronic Low Back Pain: A Clinical Practice Guideline From the American College of Physicians. Ann Intern Med, 2017. 4(166): p. 514-530.

3. Chen Q, L.M., Weaver D,, Prevention of Prescription Opioid Misuse and Projected Overdose Deaths in the United States. JAMA Network Open, 2019. 2(2): p. e187621-e187621.

4. Madigan S, Association Between Screen Time and Children’s Performance on a Developmental Screening TestAssociation Between Screen Time and Child DevelopmentAssociation Between Screen Time and Child Development. JAMA Pediatrics, 2019.

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

CF 027: WANTED – Safe, Nonpharmacological Means Of Treating Spinal Pain

CF 052: Chiropractic Forward Podcast Year One Review

 

 

 

CF 042: w/ Dr. Tyce Hergert – Chiropractic Maintenance Care / Chiropractic Preventative Care

CF 042: w/ Dr. Tyce Hergert – Chiropractic Maintenance Care / Chiropractic Preventative Care

Tyce hergert chiropractor southlake

Integrating Chiropractors

Today we have a special return appearance from a friend of the show and we’re going to talk about chiropractic maintenance care also known as chiropractic preventative care. Chiropractors have recommended a regular schedule to their patients for generations but it was mostly as a result of experience and intuition. But what about research on the matter? We’ll get to it.

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.  

Be sure you have signed up for our newsletter slash email. You can do that at chiropracticforward.com and it lets us keep you updated on new episodes and new evidence-based products when they come out. Yes, eventually there will be some pretty cool things available through us. We won’t email any more than once per week and the value outweighs the risk. Kind of like in cervical manipulation. So just go get that done while we’re thinking about it. 

You have confidently strutted right into Episode #42 and we are so glad you did. 

I would really like to just turn this mic on and automatically be the #1 chiropractic podcast in the world but that’s not the real world, right? But I have to say that we continue to grow. I’m impatient and it’s never quite fast enough but we are continually growing and that’s always exciting. When you see the growth chart consistently going up and to the right, then hell yeah. Ka-bam shazam. 

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.

My Week

But first, my week has been nuts. When was the last time you tried to hire someone? It’s absolutely stupid these days. Honestly, I posted a job on indeed.com. I got literally 175 resumes, scheduled 15 interviews, only 7 showed up for the interview, and we have one really good prospect. 

This is the second round by the way. We tried to hire for the front desk position a few weeks ago and went through 120 resumes. We actually hired a girl but then her dad got sick and after thinking it over, decided we weren’t a good fit. Lol. Can you imagine? 

I don’t know if you can tell from this podcast or not but….I’m generally a pretty darn good guy and really care about my staff and care about people and care about making connections with others. 

I don’t yell, I don’t fuss a lot. Even when they’re wrong. That’s just not my style. I don’t think I stink or anything having to do with body functions so, I can’t figure it out other than people have just changed. Or has it always been hard to find good help? All I know is that I’m having a hell of a time finding the right front desk personnel and it’s making me more than a little crazy. 

Welcome Dr. Tyce Hergert from Southlake, TX

Now that we have all of that out of the way, I want to welcome our guest today. You could say we sort of know each other. In fact, we grew up in the same neighborhood from elementary school all the way through high school. Even though I was a couple years older, we definitely knew each other. He lived right next door to my best friend and we played football in his front yard pretty often. 

We were at the University of North Texas at the same time living in Denton, TX and then we were down at Parker College of Chiropractic at the same time as well. If that weren’t enough, we have both served in statewide leadership positions for the Texas Chiropractic Association. In fact, Tyce is part of the reason I got involved in the first place. 

He took it a step further than me though. Dr. Hergert actually served as the President of the TCA two terms ago and helped steer the profession to a historic 4 chiro-friendly bills passed in the state legislature that year. This is important because the bills that were passed in our favor prior to that would be basically zero, none, nada, goose-egg, zilch. 

About an Integrated Practice

Dr. Hergert also runs an integrated practice down in Southlake, TX so he’s an excellent resource for our kind of podcast. 

Some people kind of think he’s a big deal and there’s a good argument to be made for that but I’m not going to be the one making it because I’ve known him way too long. 

Not only is he an ex-Pres for the TCA, but he also has the bragging rights of being a guest on 2 of our top five most popular episodes of all times here at the Chiropractic Forward Podcast. Those are episodes 6 and 11 with 11 actually being our most listened to episode of all time so congrats to Dr. Hergert on that. 

If you enjoy his guest appearance on this episode, although I’d be a bit flabbergasted as to why you enjoyed it….you can always get more of Tyce on those. Again, I’m not sure why you’d ever want to do that. Lol. 

Welcome to the show Dr. Hergert. Thank you for taking the time to join us. 

Tell us a little bit about Southlake, TX for the ones unfamiliar with the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. 

Tell us a little bit about running an integrated practice. What’s it like? Have you become more of an owner/administrator or are your elbow deep in treatment and the physical aspects of seeing patients all day every day still?

Getting To The Research

This first paper….I alluded to back in episode #36 but very briefly. We covered a little more in depth back in Episode #19 as well which posted back in April of this year. I think in light of a brand new paper that just came out, it’s worth covering this one again if you do not mind. It’s all about chiropractic maintenance and chiropractic preventative treatment.

It’s called “Does maintained spinal manipulation therapy for chronic nonspecific low back pain result in better long-term outcome?” and was published in the prestigious Spine journal[1]. 

For the purpose of this study, keep in mind that SMT stands for spinal manipulation therapy. Also of special note is that chiropractors perform over 90% of SMTs in America so I commonly interchange SMT or spinal manipulation therapy with the term “Chiropractic Adjustment.”

Why They Did It

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

How They Did It

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

What They Found

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

Wrap It Up

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

Dr. Hergert, what do you have to say on this one? I’m not sure what there is to say except, “Told you so!”

What do you typically recommend to your patients as far as chiropractic maintenance and chiropractic preventative treatment care goes?

Paper #2:

Actually, this one is a webpage linked in the show notes for you at ChiropracticForward.com in episode #42. 

http://www.chiro.org/research/ABSTRACTS/Documentation_Supporting_Maintenance_Care.shtml

This article was compiled by Dr. Anthony Rosner, Ph.D and called Documentation Supporting Maintenance Care[2]. 

The article starts by saying that the RAND Corporation studied a subpopulation of patients who were under chiropractic care compared to those who were NOT and found that the individuals under continuing chiropractic care were:

  • Less likely to be in a nursing home
  • Were less likely to have been in the hospital the previous 23 years
  • They were more likely to report better health status
  • Most were more likely to exercise vigorously

Although it is impossible to clearly establish causality, it is clear that continuing chiropractic care is among the attributes of the cohort of patients experiencing substantially fewer costly healthcare interventions[3]. 

The next paper on chiropractic maintenance and chiropractic preventative treatment is by Dr. Rosner and talks about was a review of a larger cohort of elderly patients under chiropractic care and those not under chiropractic care. Basically, comparing monies spent on hospitals, doctor visits, and nursing homes[4] They found the following: Those under chiropractic care saved almost three times the money those NOT under chiropractic care spent for healthcare. 

  • $3,105 vs. $10,041

How’s it looking so far, Tyce?

Tyce, you’re going to like this one. Chances are, you’re probably going to want to tell people all about this one. 

Let’s get to the newer paper I mentioned before. It’s called The Nordic Maintenance Career program: Effectiveness of chiropractic maintenance care versus symptom-guided treatment for recurrent and persistent low back pain – pragmatic randomized controlled trial and it was compiled by Andreas Eklund, et. al[5]. 

Why They Did It

The authors wanted to explore chiropractic maintenance and chiropractic preventative treatment in the chiropractic profession. What is the effectiveness for prevention of pain in patients with recurrent or persistent non-specific low back pain?

How They Did It

  • 328 patients
  • Pragmatic, investigator-blinded. Pragmatic. What does that mean exactly? According to Califf and Sugarman 2015, It means it is “Designed for the primary purpose of informing decision-makers regarding the comparative balance of benefits, burdens and risks of a biomedical or behavioral health intervention at the individual or population level” Meaning they are attempting to run a trial to inform decision-makers of responsible guidelines going forward. That’s it for the dummies like me in the room. 
  • Two arm randomized controlled trial
  • Included patients 18-65 w/ non-specific low back pain
  • The patients all experienced an early favorable result with chiropractic care. 
  • After an initial course of treatment ended, the patients were randomized into either a maintenance care group or a control group. 
  • The control group still received chiropractic care but on a symptom-related basis. 
  • The main outcome measured was the number of days with bothersome low back pain during a 1 year period. 
  • The info was collected weekly through text messaging. 

What They Found

  • Maintenance care showed a reduction in the number of days per week having low back pain
  • During the year-long study, the chiropractic maintenance and chiropractic preventative treatment group showed 12.8 fewer days. 
  • The chiropractic maintenance and chiropractic preventative treatment received 1.7 more treatments than the symptom-related group. 

Wrap It Up

The authors wrap it up by saying, “Maintenance care was more effective than symptom-guided treatment in reducing the total number of days over 52 weeks with bothersome non-specific LBP but it resulted in a higher number of treatments. For selected patients with recurrent or persistent non-specific LBP who respond well to an initial course of chiropractic care, MC should be considered an option for tertiary prevention.”

Basically, both groups still underwent chiropractic maintenance and chiropractic preventative treatment. It’s like we tell people, stay on a schedule and you’ll do well. Wait until you hurt and the chances are good that you’ll spend the same amount getting over that complaint anyway. 

This study showed that exactly except, over the course of just one year, the maintenance chiropractic care (preventative chiropractic care) people had 1.7 more visits but suffered pain almost 13 days less. 

Bring it home

Are two appointments extra worth almost 2 weeks less of having pain in a year’s time? I say hell yes. 

Dr. Hergert…what say you?

Lay some sage-like wisdom on us here and bring it all home for us won’t you please?

This week, I want you to go forward with the knowledge that, when you write “patient recommended preventative chiropractic care schedule going forward” you can do so confidently knowing your are right and there is research showing it. 

You don’t have to recommend chiropractic maintenance and chiropractic preventative treatment simply because you heard to do that at school or because your old boss always did it. 

You can make those recommendations because it’s best for your patients. 

Dr. Hergert, do you have anything to add, this is probably your last time on the podcast after all. 

Thank you so much for hanging out with us today, I was kidding of course. We will make time and do it again down the road. 

Integrating Chiropractors

Affirmation

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.

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.

Contact

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. 

Website

http://www.chiropracticforward.com

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About the author:

Dr. Jeff Williams – Chiropractor in Amarillo, TX, Chiropractic Advocate, Author, Entrepreneur, Educator, Businessman, Marketer, and Healthcare Blogger & Vlogger

 

Bibliography

1. Senna MK, Does maintained spinal manipulation therapy for chronic nonspecific low back pain result in better long-term outcome? Spine (Phila Pa 1976), 2011. Aug 15; 36(18): p. 1427-37.

2. Rosner A. Documentation Supporting Maintenance Care. Chiro.org 2016; Available from: http://www.chiro.org/research/ABSTRACTS/Documentation_Supporting_Maintenance_Care.shtml.

3. Coulter ID, Chiropractic Patients in a Comprehensive Home-Based Geriatric Assessment, Follow-up and Health Promotion Program. Topic in Clinical Chiropractic, 1996. 3(2): p. 46-55.

4. Rupert R, Maintenance Care: Health Promotion Services Administered to US Chiropractic Patients Aged 65 and Older, Part II. J Manipulative Physiol Ther, 2000. 23(1): p. 10-19.

5. Eklund A, The Nordic Maintenance Care program: Effectiveness of chiropractic maintenance care versus symptom-guided treatment for recurrent and persistent low back pain—A pragmatic randomized controlled trial. PLoS One, 2018. 13(9).

CF 040: w/ Dr. Brandon Steele: Chiropractic Standardization & The Future of Chiropractic

 

CF 038: w/ Dr. Jerry Kennedy – Chiropractic Marketing Done Right

CF 029: w/ Dr. Devin Pettiet – Is Chiropractic Integration Healthy For The Profession?

CF 005: Valuable & Reliable Expert Advice On Clinical Guides For Your Practice

 

CF 024: They Laughed When I Said I Could Still Help After Back Surgery

They Laughed When I Said I Could Still Help After Back Surgery

Today, we’re going to talk about people coming into our office after having had back surgery wanting us to perform miracles. Well, why didn’t they come to us BEFORE the surgery would be my big question. We’ll toss all that stuff around today on the Chiropractic Forward Podcast. 

But first, here’s that bumper music!

OK, we are back. Welcome to the podcast today, I’m Dr. Jeff Williams and I’m your host for the Chiropractic Forward podcast.  

Before we get started, I want to ask you to go to chiropracticforward.com and sign up for our newsletter. On another note, do you need an hour or two for your Continuing Education seminar on low back pain guidelines or on Debunking the myth that chiropractors cause strokes? 

Go no further, you have found your man. Just send me an email at dr.williams@chiropracticforward.com and we will get it done.

We are honored to have you listening. Now, here we go with some vital information that we think can build confidence and improve your practice which will improve your life overall. That’s a tall order but that is the goal

You have done the electric slide right into Episode #24 and that’s exciting

Now, as I mentioned previously, how many times do chiropractors have new patients come through the doors but they’ve already had back surgery? They’ve had back surgery they hoped would be a quick fix usually. But it wasn’t. 

Now, they’re sitting in your office, looking at you with a very scared and concerned face, and it’s up to you to lead the way and, hopefully, be able to provide them some sort of relief with your magical abilities. 

I can tell you from 20 plus years of experience that it happens all of the time. At least a time or two per month for a busy practice. That’s what I would guess. 

The truth is, sometimes we can help these back surgery people and sometimes we just can’t. I tell patients that surgery, many times, is permanent and anything we do toward trying to get some relief can be a little bit like pushing a wheelbarrow uphill. Depending on the weight in the wheelbarrow, we may get it to the top and we may not get it to the top but we’re sure as hell going to try while making sure we keep them safe from further damage. 

At first glance, when you’re looking at an x-ray of a post-surgical patient, many times I find myself thinking, “What in the heck can I possibly do with this trainwreck.” I’m sure I’m not the only one to ever feel like that. It’s a little bit of a helpless feeling sometimes. Especially when you see parts missing like you’ll see in a laminectomy. Or when you see parts added like boney fusions or fusions with hardware. I get a sinking feeling in my stomach for patients like that. Back surgery is no joke.

Especially when we know for a researched-fact that these patients most likely did not have to endure those procedures. For any reason. If you aren’t sure about that statement, please review our podcast episodes we did no The Lancet low back series. Episodes #16, #17, and #18 dealt with this very issue. 

Back surgery is gaining in popularity while the outcomes show no change. They are no longer recommending surgery for acute or chronic low back pain. Period. Sure, cauda equina syndrome, foot drop, and severe symptoms like that may indicate surgical intervention but, otherwise, they say no shots, no surgery, no bed rest, and no medications. 

We will be hammering these things consistently until we start seeing some change. I can guarantee it. 

OK, but…..what if nobody listened to the experts and they just did the surgery with no relief? Can we do anything about it? 

Let’s look at a couple of possiblities:

  1. The spine was fused years ago and now, due to the immobilization and increased workload on the segments above and below, the segments above and/or below begin to show signs of wear and tear. 
  2. The spine was not fused but the complaint never improved. This may be the case in people that have the microdiscectomies or epidural spinal injections. 

Of course there are a lot of different, very specific outcomes that don’t fit in those two categories but I’d say these are the ones I commonly see. 

Let’s take the first one: a fusion that caused issues above and below the fused segment. If you go through nonsurgical spinal decompression certification through the Kennedy Decompression Technique, you’ll be taught that a fusion with hardware is a hard contraindication. At least it was 6 years ago. 

Assuming these people develop disc issues above or below the fusion, that would mean you can’t do any decompression on the site. An orthopedic surgeon that is familiar with non-surgical decompression however, may tell you that the segment is more solid after the fusion than it ever was before and decompression won’t cause any issues with the fusion itself. 

OK, so, we’re stuck between two worlds on that and, honestly, if you’re an expert on this and you’re listening, email me at dr.williams@chiropracticforward.com and tell me your experience and understanding. 

After bouncing the problem off of several highly trusted colleagues, I think a light pull on decompression is tolerated just fine and does in fact provide relief to fusion patients. No, you cannot pull them at 1/3 or 1/2 of their body weight. We’re talking a LIGHT pull. This combined with gentle McKenzie and Core exercises as well as self-management recommendations at home will go toward getting them back on their feet and getting back after it. 

If any of you disagree, I’d love to talk about it. My first question would be, “What would the alternative be?” 

I am by no means the final and ultimate opinion on this. We have to depend on trusted advice and clinical experience, don’t we? That’s just what I do and what I’ve found is that about 80% of patients just get better. There’s about 10% that gets better but not quite what we hoped for. Then there’s that 10% that …”Hey, we tried and it looks like I’m not your homey on this deal.”

Now, what about the second option? Let’s say that they had a discetomy back surgery but it was a failure (surprise surprise) and now it’s up to us to help the patient and attempt to keep them from enduring any more back surgery or shots. What do you do? Maybe I should say, “What do WE do?”

I say adjust them!! After a certain healing time has passed, of course. 

I say we do all the other stuff I mentioned previously for them as well. We may do decmopression. We may do laser. We certainly do McKenzies, Core Building, McGill’s Big Three, no bed rest, and home self-management.

If you have paid much attention to our previous episodes then you know the American College of Physicians and the global panel of experts on low back pain that published the low back pain papers in The Lancet back in March of 2018 say that spinal mobilization is a researched and recommended first-line therapy for acute and chronic low back pain. 

In my opinion, a discetomy doesn’t change these recommendations much. Sometimes, cases are so specific, that they just don’t get researched in depth for that certain instance. 

However, I CAN offer a case study if you’re willing to listen. 

It was titled, “Chiropractic/Rehabilitative Management of Post-Surgical Disc Herniation: A Retrospective Case Report” and was published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine in the Summer edition of 2004(Estadt G 2004).  

Why They Did It

To explore management of lumbar disc herniation following sugery using a regimen of chiropractic manipulation and exercise/rehab. 

How They Did It

  • The patient was a 54 yr old male
  • The patient had a history of acute low back pain with left sciatic pain down the left posterior thigh and lateral calf as well as numbness inthe bottom of the left foot. 
  • The patient previously had steroid anti-inflammatory drugs and lumbar microdiscectomy surgery. 
  • The patient did not recover completely.
  • The patient couldn’t walk without hurting and was unable to return to activities of daily living. 
  • He was antalgic in flexion. 
  • His lumbar range of motion was restricted in flexion as well as in extension. 
  • He had a positive SLR as well as foot drop on the left. 
  • Intervention consisted of patient education on posture, bending, and lifting. 
  • Exercise/Rehab was started in-office progressing to at-home based exercise/rehab. 
  • Active rehab was continued after early improvement (7 visits) in order to return lumbar spinal extensor strength. 
  • The patient was ultimately released to home therapy and supportive chiropractic care and continued to show improvement. 

Wrap It Up

The author concluded, “Management of postsurgical lumbar disc herniation with chiropractic and active rehabilitation is discussed. Spinal deconditioning and weakness of the lumbar spinal extensor muscles appeared to be related to the patient’s symptoms. Patient education on proper posture, proper lifting techniques, core stabilization exercises, active strengthening exercise and chiropractic manipulation appeared effective in this case.”

OK, a case study with one subject. What does that tell us as far as research goes? Very little. What is the impact of the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine? It’s  peer-reviewed and it has an impact factor of 0.74 and has climbed significantly since 0.36 in 2011. 

Although this case study is only one patient’s experience, from my own anecdotal evidence, I would come very close to guaranteeing you and betting the farm that these post back surgery results can be repeated time and time again.

I’ve seen it time and time again. My experience tells me we can help these people. YOU can help these people. Back surgery doesn’t always mean we are helpless to pull out the power of chiropractic. 

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

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

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

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

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

Social Media Links

iTunes

Bibliography

Estadt G (2004). “Chiropractic/Rehabilitative Management of Post-Surgical Disc Herniation: A Retrospective Case Report.” Journal of Chiropractic Medicine 3(3): 108-115.

CF 020: Chiropractic Evolution or Extinction?

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

CF 023: How Can Research Help You Talk To The Medical Profession?

How Can Research Help You Talk To The Medical Profession?

This week we’re going to be discussing Chiropractic integration and how can research help you. Getting closer to the center of healthcare rather than being far out on the outer ring about to be spun into the cold dark void of space. 

First though, bring on that bumper music to get the party started. 

Welcome to the podcast today, I’m Dr. Jeff Williams and I’m your host for the Chiropractic Forward podcast. You have beamed yourself right into Episode #23. 

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.

Before we get started, I want to draw your attention our website at chiropracticforward.com. Just below the area where you can listen to the latest episode, you’ll see an area where you can sign up for our newsletter. 

I’d also like to let you know that I am starting to accept bookings for public talks. Do you need an hour or two for your Continuing Education seminar on low back pain guidelines or on Debunking the myth that chiropractors cause strokes? Go no further, you have found your man. Just send me an email at dr.williams@chiropracticforward.com and we will get it done. 

Part of my function is to show where we can fit more and more into mainstream health and why we fit. That’s where the research continues to smile on Doctors of Chiropractic. What does research tell us on this journey to expand and integrate?

Let us be honest with one another here when we say that there is a reason our profession is misunderstood. There is a reason that we have been treated unfairly for generations; since our inception. 

I would say the number one reason is that several in our profession over the years have professed chiropractic to be a miracle cure for any and all ills. Let me give you an example to demonstrate my point. I remember sitting in a seminar and the speaker who will remain unnamed was telling us that their patient had cancer and several adjustments caused it to encapsulate and then work out of the body into a large skin tag looking sort of thing before it finally just fell off. Cancer free!! Thanks to chiropractic!!

Young impressionable chiropractors-to-be lapped that speech right up and likely went on to tell scores of colleagues and patients all about this. And, this person is still out giving seminars and speaking to impressionable minds. 

Is it true? Who knows? I hate to denigrate something I truly don’t understand, but, I admit, I doubt it. And, if it were repeatable, this person would be in some hall of fame and would be the most famous person in healthcare because he discovered the cure for cancer. I mean, it gets no bigger than curing cancer does it?

Honestly though, it doesn’t matter what I think about it. What matters is whether or not boasts like this serve to further progress this profession or serve to make us walk the proverbial professional plank. If chiropractors can do clinical studies on such a thing, then get it done and quit talking about it. Prove what you say. You saw cancer work itself out of the body after your treatment? That is amazing, but in this day and age, it should be documented. You can get with a cancer research center and attempt to repeat your findings and prove what you think to be true. 

I’m being dramatic here but you get my point. I’m not trying to pick fights with this podcast. I’m trying to be honest and make sense. I realize that turns some off and I hate that because I truly feel civil discourse is in short supply in 2018. 

You find some claims in our profession that just lack any backing as far as research goes and I’d like to see our profession either put up or shut up basically. If you say you can do it, prove it and show us all through accepted research protocols and studies. “Because I said so,” no longer works.

Reason #2: I’d say, if you listened to episode #9, referenced and linked in the show notes, then you know that the American Medical Association and the state medical associations have done quite a job over the generations in de-valuing the chiropractic profession. 

Take the idea that chiropractors cause strokes in their patients. We spent three episodes of this podcast methodically dismantlying this crazy myth. I am referring to Episodes #13, #14, and #15 referenced and linked in the show notes along with the associated blog we posted on the matter called, “DEBUNKED: The Odd Myth That Chiropractors Cause Strokes.”  You can read the blog here: https://www.chiropracticforward.com/blog-post/chiropractic-forward-podcast-introduction-and-welcome/

The myth has no basis in fact and research clearly demonstrates this. Yet, you will still get arguments about how Doctors of Chiropractic cause strokes. The Chiropractic Forward Facebook page is proof enough of this. Fighting against long-held beliefs is a hard thing to do and all of the research in the world will never change some minds. However, that doesn’t mean we stop showing it to everyone! 

I will say with some sense of satisfaction that networking and forming relationships with medical providers has never been easier than it has become within the last several years and that is a stepping stone and absolutely welcome and a blessing. 

One thing I hear from straight chiropractors from time to time is that guys and girls like me are “Medi-Practors.” What does that mean exactly? Well, I would say it implies that we want to be medical doctors. But, they use the term for any chiropractor that even uses therapies like electric stim, ultrasound, or any other modality outside of just an adjustment. 

I would simply say that I personally have no desire to prescribe medications. In fact, when I have a car wreck patient, I’m actually glad I can just say, “I’m sorry, I can’t prescribe you anything since chiropractors treat conservatively and naturally and do not prescribe medications.” It’s liberating. I love that we do not treat that way. 

On the other hand, I certainly recognize the use of medicine and the benefits of some medicine. I’m not necessarily against medication. I’m certainly against long-term medication when lifestyle change could prevent being on medication. I’m absolutely against a mentality that simply treats the symptom with pharmaceuticals rather than addressing the cause or the source. 

As I say in almost every episode, spinal pain is a mechanical pain and it makes sense that mechanical pain responds better to mechanical treatment rather than chemical treatment. In addition, patients should have the guarantee of the best treatment that causes the least harm and, folks, when it comes to non-complicated spinal pain, that’s exactly what chiropractic is. How can research help you relay this message is powerful.

This podcast, in case you’ve wondered, is a bit cathartic for me. And, I will admit, doesn’t seem to stir as much fussing as I originally expected. In fact, most chiropractors listening are in agreement with me so I certainly feel a sense of validation there and I appreciate the support. 

As you should know by now, I enjoy covering research papers so let’s get to that now that my grumpier side decided to show itself. Back to our regularly scheduled program. 

Here’s one called “Can chiropractors contribute to work disability prevention through sickness absence management for musculoskeletal disorders? – a comparative qualitative case study in the Scandinavian context” by Stochkendahl et. al. published in Chiropractic & Manual Therapies on April 26th of 2018. Brand new stuff. 

Why They Did It

Even thought the guidelines are there for managing non-complicated musculoskeletal pain, there has been little to no decrease in work disability. Right now, Norwegian chiropractors have legislated sickness certification rights but the Danes and the Swedes do not. The authors were looking to describe, compare, and contrast the views and experiences of Scandinavian chiropractors when engaged in the prevention of work disability and sickness absence. 

How They Did It

The study was a two-phased sequential exploratory mixed-methods design. 

In a comparative qualitative case study design, the authors explored the different experiences amongst chiropractors in regards to sickness absence from face-to-face interviews.

What They Found

  • 12 interviews conducted
  • The chiropractors’ ability to manage sickness absence depended on four key factors:
  1. legislation & politics
  2. the rationale for being a sickness absence mangement partner
  3. whether an integrated sickness management pathway existed or could be created
  4. the barriers to service provision for sickness absence management. 

Wrap It Up

The authors concluded, “Allied health providers, in this instance chiropractors, with patient management expertise can fulfill a key role in sickness absence management and by extension work disability prevention when these practices are legislatively supported. In cases where these practices occur informally, however, practitioners face systemic-related issues and professional self-image challenges that tend to hamper them in fulfilling a more integrated role as providers of work disability prevention practices(Stochkendahl M 2018).”

And then this paper by F. Gedin, et. al. called “Patient-reported improvements of pain, disability and health-related quality of life following chiropractic care for back pain – A national observational study in Sweden” published in Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies in February of 2018

Again, pretty recent stuff. 

Why They Did It

The authors were simply trying to get patient reported feedback from those patients in Sweden seeking treatment via chiropractic for their back pain. 

How They Did It

  • The study was a prospective observational study
  • It included those 18 years and older having back pain of any duration 
  • It included 23 chiropractic clinics
  • The patient questionnaire was performed at baseline, and at 4 weeks
  • Questionnaires used were the Numerical Rating Scale, Oswestry Disability Index, health-related quality of life (EQ-5D index)
  • Visual Analog Scale or VAS

What They Found

There were statistical improvements over the 4 weeks for all patient reported outcomes. 

Wrap It Up

The authors’ conclusion was, “Patients with acute and chronic back pain reported statistically significant improvements in PRO four weeks after initiated chiropractic care. Albeit the observational study design limits causal inference, the relatively rapid improvements of PRO scores warrant further clinical investigations(Gedin F 2018).”

I want you to know with absolute certainty that When Chiropractic is at its best, you cannot beat the risk vs reward ratio. Plain and simple.

Spinal pain is a mechanical pain and responds better to mechanical treatment rather than chemical treatment such as pain killers, muscle relaxants, and anti-inflammatories.

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

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

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

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

Social Media Links

iTunes

REFERENCES

Episode #9 with Dr. Tom Hollingswortth: The Case Against Chiropractic in Texas

https://www.chiropracticforward.com/2018/02/15/episode-9-dr-tom-hollingsworth-case-chiropractic-texas/

Episode #13: Debunked: The Odd Myth That Chiropractors Cause Strokes (Part 1)

https://www.chiropracticforward.com/2018/03/15/debunked-the-odd-myth-that-chiropractors-cause-strokes/

Episode #14: Debunked: The Odd Myth That Chiropractors Cause Strokes (Part 2)

https://www.chiropracticforward.com/2018/03/22/cf-episode-14-debunked-the-odd-myth-that-chiropractors-cause-strokes-part-2-of-3/

Episode #15: Debunked: The Odd Myth That Chiropractors Cause Strokes (Part 3)

https://www.chiropracticforward.com/2018/03/29/cf-015-debunked-the-odd-myth-that-chiropractors-cause-strokes-part-3-of-3/

“DEBUNKED: The Odd Myth That Chiropractors Cause Strokes.”  You can read the blog here: https://www.chiropracticforward.com/blog-post/chiropractic-forward-podcast-introduction-and-welcome/Bibliography

  • Gedin F (2018). “Patient-reported improvements of pain, disability and health-related quality of life following chiropractic care for back pain – A national observational study in Sweden.” Jounral of Bodywork & Movement Therapies.
  • Stochkendahl M (2018). “Can chiropractors contribute to work disability prevention through sickness absence management for musculoskeletal disorders? – a comparative qualitative case study in the Scandinavian context.” Chiropractic & Manual Therapies 26(15).

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

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

Crazy Update On Run-Away Healthcare Spending in America

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Since I haven’t yet, I’ll introduce myself, I’m Dr. Jeff Williams and I’m your host for the Chiropractic Forward podcast. We are honored to have you listening. Now, here we go with some vital information that we think can build confidence and improve your practice which will improve your life overall. That’s a tall order but that is the goal.

You have shaked, shimmied, and rolled into Episode #21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CF 020: Chiropractic Evolution or Extinction?

Chiropractic Evolution or Extinction?

This week on the Chiropractic Forward Podcast we are talking about Chiropractic Evolution and hopefully NOT extinction. I want to continue with discussions on low back pain (LBP) because that is the topic that is on fire at the moment. Not only that but I will go into some of the inter-professional feuding we find in the chiropractic industry and we will touch on some admittedly uncomfortable topics for some chiropractors.

First, bring on that bumper music!

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 shimmied right into Episode #20. It’s hard to believe all of this craziness started 20 weeks ago. It feels like I’m still trying to get it figured out. That’s for sure.

I just returned from a trip to New Orleans. Did you know that New Orleans is actually good for you?

The momentum low back pain has picked up recently is a once in a lifetime re-booting of an entire thought process, of long-held clinical pathways, and of stubborn practitioner mentality and dogmatic beliefs.

I blame the national emergency we know as the “Opioid Crisis” for starting a more focused attack on low back pain. The statistics on low back pain are some incredible numbers. It’s the number one reason for disability in the world. That is truly impressive. However, low back pain as a global issue did not crop up in only the last several years. Granted, due to an older, aging population, it has increased but low back pain has been a serious concern for many years at this point.

Yet, there were no global papers on low back pain. There were no articles in the journals for the American Medical Association and for the American College of Physicians recommending spinal manipulation (chiropractic adjustments) as an effective, first-line treatment for low back pain. We have simply never seen the attention based on the research that we have seen since the onset of the opioid crisis.

One must give kudos to the medical field in the sense that they recognize they have been partly the cause of the opioid crisis and, in turn, are taking steps to address the problem through new thinking and alternative means. Even if that means going against old dogmatic beliefs and against the common grain.

I applaud the new directions. Although, there is still a very clear gap that will take time to fill in regards to what the practitioner is doing and what they SHOULD be doing.

We recently discussed a series of papers in The Lancet from March 21, 2018 that dealt with low back pain. The Lancet is one of the oldest and most respected medical journals in the world dating back to 1823 and the series of papers was compiled by an international, interdisciplinary group of experts. It is considered the best current information we have dealing with low back pain, it’s prevention, and going forward. I highly encourage you to read through the papers.

Since it would get a little boring going over the same three papers over and over, I am going to move along with other research and other information concerning low back pain.

I want to start with a paper that echoes the sentiments of The Lancet series in regards to the gap in what the evidence suggests and in what is actually happening in the real world. In all actuality, from here forward, I believe most of what we discuss on the topic of low back pain will somewhat echo the sentiments found in the recent Lancet papers.

Moving on, the papers we will discuss are arranged strategically and tell a story if you follow along.

To start, here is a paper from 2010 titled “Managing low back pain in the primary care setting: the know-do gap.” It was published in Pain Research & Management and authored by NA Scott, et. al. with the Institute of Health Economics in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Why They Did It
The goals for these authors were to identify gaps in knowledge in regards to diagnosis of acute and chronic low back pain in a primary care clinical setting for primary practitioners in Alberta, Canada in order to further determine what barriers lie in the way of the primary practitioners adopting a multidisciplinary approach in the treatment process.

How They Did It
• The authors accepted papers from 1996-2008
• The papers compared clinical pathway patterns found in the primary practices and in the guides and recommendations found through searching literature databases, websites of various health technology assessment agencies, and libraries.
• The data was organized qualitatively.

What They Found
The search for quality papers yielded 14 that were considered relevant.
Knowledge gaps were identified in the primary practices for red flags, imaging use, advice for bed rest and sick leave for low back pain, medications, and recommendations of alternative treatment means such as chiropractic, acupuncture, physiotherapy, etc.)

Wrap It Up

The authors stated that a “know-do” gap certainly exists. Meaning, there is a difference in what the research is telling primary practices to do for low back pain and in what they are actually doing in the real world.

The authors plan to use this information to develop a plan to implement more multidisciplinary protocols for low back pain by educating the primary practitioners on the guides and recommendations[1].

If we are to talk about the “Know-do” gap, what a common result of there being a gap in knowledge of diagnosis and treatment when compared to actual researched guides?

To help shed some light on this, let us look at a paper from March of 2018 by Richard Deyo, et. al. at the Department of Family Medicine at Oregon Health Science University in Portland, Oregon. This paper is titled “Use of prescription opioids before and after an operation for chronic pain (lumbar fusion surgery)”

Why They Did It
Considering low back fusion surgery is typically performed to treat chronic low back pain, and considering that patients have the expectation of no longer needing opioids after a surgery, the authors were looking to discover three things:
• What amount of patients having long-term preoperative opioid use discontinued or reduced dosage after surgery?
• What amount of patients having had a smaller amount of preoperative opioid use initiated long-term use?
• What predicts whether a patient goes on to use opioids in the long-term after surgery?

How They Did It
• This was a retrospective cohort study
• There were 2491 participants that had undergone lumbar fusion surgery to treat degenerative conditions.
• The researchers used Oregon’s prescription drug monitoring program to determine pre-op and post-op use of opioids by the test subjects.
• Long-term use was defined as more than 4 prescription refills 7 months after hospitalization. At least 3 occurring more than 30 days after hospitalization.

What They Found
• 1045 patients were identified as having long-term opioid use PRE-operatively
• 1094 were determined to have had long-term opioid us POST-operatively.
• From the long-term PRE-op patients, 71% continued long-term in POST-op use and 13.8% experienced episodic opioid use.
• A mere 9.1% of the long-term PRE-op patients had short-term use POST-op.
• In the group of patients that received no preoperative opioids, 12.8% went on to use opioids long-term.

Wrap It Up
This paper suggests that the strongest predictor of whether a patient would use opioids long-term was the cumulative effect of PRE-op opioid doses. The paper also suggests that lumbar fusion surgery commonly had no effect on eliminating long-term opioid use so patients that are unaware of the risks of opioid use run a risk of long-term use[2].

While I’m no orthopedic surgeon, I would ask, “Why are they doing lumbar fusions on stable segments in the first place considering the research showing that it should be a treatment of last resort?”

It should come after spinal manipulation, acupuncture, massage, exercise rehab, physiotherapy, cognitive behavior therapy, yoga, etc….. That is A LOT any sort of surgery should typically follow so why? Of course, I’m not making the money those folks make so, that may be the decision maker for some of them at least.

Moving from things going wrong to ways they can go right, there is this paper from the journal Pain from March 27, 2018 titled, “Spinal Manipulation and Exercise for Low Back Pain in Adolescents: A Randomized Trial by R. Evans, et. al. with the University of Minnesota’s Integrative Health and Wellbeing Research Program. As a side note, Gert Bronfort was also listed as an author in this paper. If you are unfamiliar with Bronfort, he has authored several key papers previously.

Why They Did It
The authors state that there is a “paucity” in high quality research on the matter of exercise vs. spinal manipulative therapy in the treatment of low back pain.

How They Did It
• The research was a multicenter, randomized trial
• 185 adolescent were included
• The participants ranged in age from 12-18 years old
• All had chronic low back pain
• Outcome assessments were measured at 12 weeks, 26 weeks, and at 52 weeks

What They Found
• The inclusion of spinal manipulative therapy (chiropractic adjustments) to exercise therapy had a greater effect on the reduction of low back pain severity over the course of a year.
• At the 26-week mark, the spinal manipulative therapy with exercise group had better effectiveness for disability and improvement over the exercise alone group.

Wrap It Up
The spinal manipulative therapy with exercise group had a significantly greater satisfaction with care at all time points. “There were no serious treatment-related adverse events. For adolescents with chronic LBP, spinal manipulation combined with exercise was more effective than exercise alone over a one-year period, with the largest differences occurring at six months. These findings warrant replication and evaluation of cost-effectiveness[3].”

We chiropractors have to love that paper now, don’t we?

Next, let’s look at a different level of recovery that deals with the way patients think as much as the treatment they undergo. Here is an article that appeared in HealthDay called “Overcoming Fear of Back Pain May Spur Recovery” by Steven Reinberg. The article was based on a recent paper that appeared in JAMA Neurology in April 16, 2018 published by lead researcher Anneleen Malfliet. It is usually wise to at least listen up when it’s in journals such as The Lancet or in the Journal of American Medical Association.

The research paper being cited once again echoes much of the sentiment laid forth in The Lancet low back series. Basically, their recommendations were as follows:
• We need to help patients think differently about their pain.
• We need to encourage patients to move in ways they had been afraid of.
• We need to teach patients with neck and back pain to remain active and/or increase their activity level gradually.
• We should avoid the use of scary or un-reassuring labels or diagnoses.
• We should not use pain levels as a reliable symptom or guideline to limit activity.

In short, research proved that patients following these guidelines showed less disability, a reduced fear of moving, and improvement in mental and physical outlook.

“Pain neuroscience education aims to change patients’ beliefs about pain, to increase their knowledge of pain and to decrease its threat,” Malfliet said[4].

Be sure to read the full article at: https://consumer.healthday.com/bone-and-joint-information-4/backache-news-53/overcoming-fear-of-back-pain-may-spur-recovery-732970.html

Now that we chiropractors are taking the step more and more into the spotlight as the experts in the treatment of biomechanical issues, what can we do on our end to ensure our colleagues can confidently refer to us and see us as peers for these issues?

I can tell you that, being in the ER one night as a result of a viral infection, not only was the virus running crazy through me but my neck was killing me as well. I thought I would ask the ER doc if he had any orthopedic exam up his sleeve that could determine what on Earth was hurting me so bad. Between you, me, and the light post, I already had a good idea but was curious as to what he knew and I thought it may be something that both of us could learn from.

It was. He did a Spurling’s move and that was about it before he gave up and said, “Honestly man, you probably know what’s going on better than I do.” And he was right. I did. But, it showed me that he was honest and that he saw me as an expert in my field and I appreciated it. Of course, he’s more of an expert in his field which is why I was there in the first place. We all have our part to play in the treatment of patients. Don’t we?

Back to my original point: how do we increase our profile as spinal, biomechanical experts. How do we increase interdisciplinary, inter-professional trust in who we are and what we can do for our patients?

I can tell you what NOT to do if that helps anything. I do not see any use chiropractic terminology that our colleagues do not understand. I personally do not use the term subluxation. In the dictionary, it is described as a partial dislocation. What does that mean in the medical mentality? It means a shoulder that was almost dislocated but reduced naturally. It means something along those lines. It does not mean a slight misalignment of a vertebra that causes cancer or whatever other conditions some describe.

I understand chiropractors wanting to stay separate and distinct. I get it. But, there is a difference between being separate and distinct and putting yourself in a category nobody understands, that everyone thinks is out on the fringe, and that nobody knows exactly how to utilize.

If our profession is not careful, it will separate itself into oblivion now that physical therapist, physiotherapists, and the medical world in general have discovered something we have known all along. That is that spinal manipulation and mobilization is one of the best and most effective means of treating neck and back pain.

What has kept us safe from them taking our business all of these years is that they all thought we were crazy! For some, they were right but the basic principle our profession is based on was one that evidence eventually backed up and proved. Now we are in danger of losing it if we do not learn that separate and distinct may not be the most effective means of conducting our business.

The last paper I want to discuss is one called “How frequent are non-evidence-based health care beliefs in chiropractic students and do they vary across the pre-professional educational years” by Stanley Innes, et. al. It was published in Chiropractic & Manual Therapies in March 15, 2018.

Why They Did It
The authors wanted to determine what proportion of chiropractic students in Australia hold non-evidence-based beliefs from the start and what their beliefs are in the treatment of non-musculoskeletal health condition. In addition, the authors wanted to determine if the beliefs changed any over the course of their education.

How They Did It
• The study was performed in 2016
• The information was taken from two chiropractic schools in Australia
• The students answered a questionnaire with the following questions
1. How often would they give advice on five common health conditions in their future practices
2. What was their opinion about if chiropractic spinal adjustments could prevent or help seven health-related conditions.
• There were 444 responses to the questionnaire

What They Found
• Students were highly likely to offer advice on non-musculoskeletal health conditions.
• The chances of a student doing so rose to the highest level in the last year of their education.
• High numbers of students held non-evidence-based ideas of the capabilities of chiropractic spinal adjustments in beginning which then tended to decrease in proportion until the last year. In the last year, the pattern reversed.

Wrap It Up
The authors were quoted as saying, “New strategies are required for chiropractic educators if they are to produce graduates who understand and deliver evidence-based health care and able to be part of the mainstream health care system[5].”

I want you to know that I am a chiropractic advocate. I want chiropractors to practice how they wish. I want the minimal practices to be comfortable and be as stripped down and as effective as they can be. I want the interdisciplinary doctors to do everything they can do to get people well and make a difference in lives. But I want them to do things in a way that is backed by science, that brings us to the center of healthcare rather than the fringes, I want us using terminology and ideas that garner confidence and respect rather than ridicule and scorn, and I want us all to thrive and prosper while we grow our incredible profession.

There will always be an internal feud amongst chiropractors. Likely, some of my close colleagues whom I respect immensely will take offense to what I am saying and to them, I can only say, “I’m sorry but it’s the way I feel about it and it’s the way I see it.” Thank God we are all different. The same would be boring.

A colleague of mine told me he feels that philosophy and science can live hand in hand. I want to believe that too. I hope it is true. But, what I do know for a fact is that, if we do not take this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that opioids and low back pain has presented us, and move toward better integrating ourselves with the medical profession, I fully believe we will have our techniques and treatment stolen from us and we will cease to exist in our current form.

One constant you can always count on in life is change. I hope the inner-professional feuding does not keep change from happening quickly and in the right direction.

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.

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 chiropracticforward.com and let us know what you think or what suggestions you may have for us for future episodes.

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

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

Social Media Links
https://www.facebook.com/chiropracticforward/
https://twitter.com/Chiro_Forward
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtc-IrhlK19hWlhaOGld76Q

iTunes
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/chiropractic-forward-podcast-chiropractors-practicing/id1331554445?mt=2

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

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)

 

 

References

1. Scott NA, Managing low back pain in the primary care setting: the know-do gap. Pain Res Manag, 2010. 15(6): p. 392-400.
2. Deyo R, Use of prescription opioids before and after an operation for chronic pain (lumbar fusion surgery). Pain, 2018.
3. Evans R, Spinal Manipulation and Exercise for Low Back Pain in Adolescents: A Randomized Trial. Pain, 2018.
4. Malfliet A, Effect of Pain Neuroscience Education Combined With Cognition-Targeted Motor Control Training on Chronic Spinal Pain
A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Neurology, 2018.
5. Innes S, How frequent are non-evidence-based health care beliefs in chiropractic students and do they vary across the pre-professional educational years. Chiropr Man Therap, 2018. 26(8).

 

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

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

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

Welcome to the podcast today, I’m Dr. Jeff Williams and I’m your host for the Chiropractic Forward podcast where we talk about issues related to health, chiropractic, evidence, chiropractic advocacy, and research. Thank you for taking time out of your day I know your time is valuable and I want to fill it with value so here we go with some vital information that we think can build confidence and improve your practice which will improve your life overall.

Before we get started, I want to draw your attention our website at chiropracticforward.com. Just below the area where you can listen to the latest episode, you’ll see an area where you can sign up for our newsletter. I’d like to encourage you to sign up. It’s just an email about once a week to let you know when the episode is updated and what it’s about. Also, if something brand new pops up, we’ll be able to tell you about it quickly and easily.

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

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

  • Low back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide.
  • 8 out of every ten people will experience back pain. I will admit that I have never met anyone in 45 years of life on this Earth that fits into the 20% that apparently never suffers from any low back pain.
  • Back pain is the second most common reason for visits to the doctor’s office right behind upper-respiratory infections.
  • With such gains and leaps in the medical industry as far as treatment goes, low back pain is stubbornly on the rise.
  • More than half of Americans who experience low back pain spend the majority of the work day sitting. 54% to be exact. Did you know that an equal number of patients first seek help with a chiropractor as seek help with a medical practitioner for back pain?
  • Back pain in general costs $100 billion dollars every year when you factor in lost wages and productivity, as well as legal and insurance overheads.

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

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

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

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

Why They Did It

How They Did It

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

What They Found

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

Wrap It Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why They Did It

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

How They Did It

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

What They Found

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

Wrap It Up

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

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

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

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

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

The specific wording is as follows: “A key contributor to the opioid epidemic has been the excess prescribing of opioids for common pain complaints and for postsurgical pain. Although in some conditions, behavioral programs, acupuncture, chiropractic, surgery, as well as FDA-approved multimodal pain strategies have been proven to reduce the use of opioids, while providing effective pain management, current CMS reimbursement policies, as well as health insurance providers and other payers, create barriers to the adoption of these strategies.” “The Commission recommends CMS review and modify rate-setting policies that discourage the use of non-opioid treatments for pain, such as certain bundled payments that make alternative treatment options cost prohibitive for hospitals and doctors, particularly those options for treating immediate post-surgical pain.”

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

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

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

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

Make a difference.

Did you know that research and clinical experience shows that, in about 80%-90% of headaches, neck, and back pain, in comparison to the traditional medical model, patients get good or excellent results with Chiropractic? Chiropractic care is safe, more cost-effective, it decreases your chances of having surgery, and it reduces your chances of becoming disabled. We do this conservatively and non-surgically. In addition, we can do it with minimal time requirements and minimal hassle on the part of the patient. And, if the patient develops a “chiropractic maintenance” mindset going forward from initial recovery, we can likely keep it that way while raising the general, overall level of health! And patients have the right to the best treatment that does the least harm. THAT’S Chiropractic folks.

Please feel free to send us an email at dr dot williams at chiropracticforward.com and let us know what you think or what suggestions you may have for us for future episodes.

If you love what you hear, be sure to check out www.chiropracticforward.com. As this podcast builds, so will the website with more content, products, and chances to learn.

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

Source Material

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

 

CF 017: Pt. 2 – Review of The Lancet Article on Treatment of Low Back Pain

Review of The Lancet Article: Prevention and treatment of low back pain: evidence, challenges, and promising directions (Part Two)

On the Chiropractic Forward podcast this week, we are going continue a review of a recent paper published on low back pain that we hope will have a powerful impact in the months and years to follow. This week it will be a review of paper #2 from the Lancet series called Prevention and treatment of low back pain: evidence, challenges, and promising directions. 

Before we get started, I want to draw your attention our website at http://www.chiropracticforward.com. Just below the area where you can listen to the latest episode, you’ll see an area where you can sign up for our newsletter. I’d like to encourage you to sign up. It’s just an email about once a week to let you know when the episode is updated and what it’s about. Also, if something brand  new pops up, we’ll be able to tell you about it quickly and easily.

Welcome to the podcast today, you have strolled right into episode 17. 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.

As I mentioned at the top of the show, this week, I want to continue with the series published in The Lancet on March 21, 2018. For a quick re-cap this week…. The Lancet is one of the oldest and most respected medical journals in the world. It has been around since 1823. In addition to the credibility of the journal, this series of papers dealing with Low Back Pain, prevention of low back pain, and treatment of low back pain was compiled and authored by the leading experts on the matter globally. On top of that, the experts were a group of interdisciplinary practitioners which meant they ranged from medical doctors and PhD’s, to physical therapists and chiropractors. 

The three 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.

Last week, we reviewed the first of the three papers which was titled, “What low back pain is and why we need to pay attention.” We went through it note by note and section by section trying to strip away the embellishments to simply boil it down to a leisure read and, hopefully, an enjoyable learning process. 

We will do the same this week with the second paper of the series titled, “Prevention and treatment of low back pain: evidence, challenges, and promising directions.”

I want to start this week in the same way we started last week: by discussing how the papers were accomplished. 

How They Did It

For this paper, again titled “Prevention and treatment of low back pain,” the researchers identified scientific studies through searches of databases:

•MEDLINE (PubMed)

•Scopus

•Google Scholar

•African Index Medicus Database

In order to ensure a high-quality standard, systematic reviews were shown preference for inclusion.

Paper 2 Summary:

Recommendations commonly offered for those with low back pain include:

  • Pharmacologic implementation is not typically a first line choice
  • Education supporting self-management
  • Resumption of regular daily activities
  • Resumption of exercise
  • Psychological programs for those with low back pain that tends to linger
  • Limited or non-use of medication
  • Limited or non-use of imaging
  • Limited or non-use of surgery

The authors state that these recommendations for prevention and treatment of low back pain are derived from high-income countries and that they are concentrated on treatment rather than preventative recommendations. 

The authors state there is an inappropriate high usage of the following treatments for low back pain:

  • Spinal injections
  • Imaging
  • Opioids
  • Surgery
  • Rest

In the rest of the paper, the authors identify some promising directions and solutions for treatment of low back pain including the redesign of clinical pathways, an integrated health partnership, and occupational interventions to get workers back when possible.

Prevention

  • A 2016 systematic review with 30,850 adults showed that there was moderate quality evidence that exercise alone, or in combination with education, is effective for prevention of low back pain. 
  • However, the review was mainly for secondary prevention and the exercise program required an intense schedule of twenty 1-hour supervised sessions.
  • A 2014 systematic review with 2700 children that found moderate quality evidence that education is not effective. They also found that ergonomic furniture was likely no more help in preventing low back pain than regular furniture. 

Treatment

The authors cite three studies. The studies come from Denmark, the UK, and the USA. 

  • All three of the studies (Danish, UK and USA) recommend spinal manipulation as an effective treatment of low back pain. The UK study specifically recommends spinal manipulation in conjunction with an exercise protocol. 
  • As my own side note, in America, chiropractors perform 90% of all spinal manipulations. When we are discussing spinal manipulation and it’s role in treating low back pain, it is important to keep in mind which profession is the one being recommended. Although the authors do not come out and recommend chiropractic specifically, when spinal manipulations are recommended, it is a well-known fact that chiropractors are the doctors that are best-equipped to perform the treatment. 
  • Also in the US guidelines, there is a recommendations for the marked reduction of pharmacologic care. 
  • Some key advice coming from these updated recommendations (besides the use of spinal manipulation) is to assure patients they are not suffering from serious disease, that they will indeed improve in time, that they should continue as much movement and exercise as can be tolerated, they should avoid bed rest, and they should get back to work as soon as possible. 
  • The authors recommend physical treatments. Certainly for chronic low back pain which refers to pain lasting longer than 12 weeks. Physical treatments included exercise programs targeting the patients’ abilities, preferences, etc. 
  • The authors stated that passive therapies such as electric stim, interferential, traction, diathermy, and back supports seem to be ineffective. As a side note, it’s strictly anecdotal but this panel of experts are going to have a hard time convincing me traction, when done correctly, is not effective. I’ve seen patients avoid surgery from traction therapy alone.
  • They say new recommendations encourage doctors consider psychological therapies such as cognitive behavior therapies, progressive relaxation therapy, and mindfulness-based stress reduction alone or in combination with other physical and psychological treatment for chronic low back pain with or without radiculopathy having not responded to other treatments. 
  • If the condition persists and the patient is functionally disabled, the authors then recommend multidisciplinary rehab with supervised exercise, cognitive behavior, and medication. 
  • Of course, routine use of opioids is not advised.
  • Recommend no spinal epidural injections or facet joint injections for low back pain
  • Do recommend epidural injections of local anesthetic & steroid for radicular pain, however, as we have discussed before, epidural steroid injections show short-term effectiveness only if they are effective at all and have no influence at all on long-term disability or future need for surgery. In my own research, epidural steroid injections have shown to increase risk of spinal fracture up to 21% after each subsequent injection. 
  • Surgery – the benefits for spinal fusion when the back pain was thought to be due to degenerated discs were about equal to the results gained with intensive multidisciplinary rehab and only a modest improvement over non-surgical treatment. In addition, surgery has obvious downsides like expense, recovery, medication, and the risk of adverse events. However, surgery may be indicated when the patient is suffering severe or progressive neurological symptoms and surgery may be indicated when patients suffer radicular pain, have failed first line treatment, and the symptoms can be traced to via imaging to a disc or stenosis origin. 
  • Ultimately, the authors say, low back pain patients have a tendency to resolve with out without surgical intervention so waiting and trying to avoid surgery is certainly appropriate. 
  • Research dealing with low back pain in children or in low and middle income countries is limited so a lot is unknown for those categories, however, the two studies that actually have been done in low and middle income countries (Brazil and Philippines) have similar results as those in high income countries. 

The global gap between evidence and practice

This section masterfully demonstrates the difference between evidence-based medicine and what is really happening in the real world.

  • They start by stating that low back pain should be managed by primary care practitioners and then go on to list studies showing how it is being managed, in many cases, by emergency rooms, hospitals, and surgeons. 
  • Their next directive is to provide low back pain patients with education and advice on self management and then show how, in the real world, roughly only 20%-23% of practitioners seem to actually do so. 
  • The next directive is for low back pain patients to stay active and get to work or stay at work if possible. They go on to cite research showing how, in the real world, medical professionals are recommending rest and time off work. In India, for example, 46% of physiotherapists recommended rest to low back pain patients and in Brazil, rheumatologist recommended rest. 
  • The next comparison was for the guideline that imaging should only be ordered if the practitioner suspects a specific cause that would guide treatment and case management differing from normal care recommendations. In the USA, for example, from 2010-2013 the rate of imaging the low back with no red flags stayed consistent at 53.7%.  If we thought that was excessive, the authors go on to cite information from India showing 100% of chronic low back pain patients in an orthopedic clinic underwent imaging for non-specific low back pain. Similar results were found through the other studies cited for low and middle income countries. 
  • The next comparison was for the guideline that the first line treatments should be non-pharmacologic. They found that this guideline is not commonly followed citing research for high income countries demonstrating that 64.5% of low back pain patients in Australia from 2000-2010 were prescribed meds on the first visit and, on a personal note, I had a patient here in the USA just this morning with acute low back pain that was prescribed pain meds on the first day. To be fair, his pain is severe but, they are not following guidelines and the meds have had no impact on his level of pain still he continues to take them as ordered. Medication for no effect essentially. In the lower and middle-income countries, the authors cite research showing that in South Africa, 90% of the low back pain patients going to a primary care physician received medication. 
  • The next guideline was that many times, there was advice to avoid electrical physical modalities such as diathermy, etc. In the high-income setting, Swedish physiotherapists recommend transcutaneous stim for low back pain to the tune of 38%, 75% of American PTs use lumbar traction, and a Spanish National Health Service study suggested 38.6% of physical therapy costs were for treatments known to have no effectiveness.
  • The next guide comparison was that the use of opioids is discouraged. The authors go on to cite prescription rates from 2004-2009 and, to be honest, I think the opioid epidemic has likely caused the numbers cited to actually drop. Although opioid addiction is on the rise, it’s my opinion that it is now at the forefront of the national story. With the sort of attention it has demanded, I cannot imagine the numbers staying the same. That is my opinion, of course. 
  • Next guide was that surgery and interventional treatment should be very limited or possibly eliminated for low back pain. In the real world, this is not occurring. In the USA in 2011, spinal fusion was the reason for the most costs of any surgical procedure in the nation. US Medicare covered 2,023,481 epidural injections (a substantial increase from 2000-2011), 990,449 lumbar or sacral facet injections as well as 406,378 lumbar or sacral facet neurotomy treatments, Medicare funded 252,654 sacroiliac joint injections. Two-thirds of Dutch spinal surgeons perform spinal fusion surgeries. 
  • The next guide comparison was that exercise is now recommended for the treatment of chronic low back pain. A 2009 paper the authors cited showed that 54% of Americans with chronic low back pain were not prescribed any exercise as treatment. 
  • The final guide comparison was done for the recommendation that a biopsychosocial framework guide the management for low back pain patients. In the USA, only 12% of chronic low back pain patients had been treated for their diagnosed depression in the year prior and only 8.4% were recommended cognitive behavioral treatment. 

Promising Directions

Implementation of the best available evidence

The authors state here that some of the biggest issues toward implementation of new low back guidelines may be short consultation times, the practitioners having a decreased amount of knowledge on the guides, fear of being sued if missing serious pathology, and an effort to appease patients’ desires and, in my opinion, be the “good guy” in the patients’ eyes. However, the authors explain that there are some examples of successful implementation and that widespread use may be achieved through dispelling existing established practice patterns, repetition of the guides, and finding out what is the most effective and cost-effective treatments. 

The authors suggest integrated education of health-care professionals surmising that such a thing could not only educate & innovate but also break through professional barriers that exist. Professional barriers such as exist between many in the medical field and the chiropractic field. 

Clinical systems and pathways

The authors say that one solution in the treatment of low back pain could be a radical departure from current procedure and move toward a stratified primary care model known as STarT Back. This model is a two-part model with the first part consisting of a questionnaire to help the practitioner identify the patient’s risk of persistent disabling pain. The second part consists of treatments tailored to the patients level of risk according to the first part questionnaire. 

Another option along these lines would be to redesign the entire case management paths from first contact all the way through to the specialized care practitioner. They argue that a current barrier to doing this is the fact that healthcare reimbursements are currently geared toward quantity rather than quality. Two programs the authors cited for examples of promising pathways are Canada’s Saskatchewan Spine Pathway as well as NHS England’s program. 

Integrate health and occupational interventions

The authors argue in this section that healthcare and occupational health interventions need to be considered simultaneously when it comes to patients with low back pain and work disability issues. Return to work commonly happens before the absence of pain. Even hurting, people can still return to work. The authors tend to have a very strong recommendation on never leaving work or returning as quickly as possible. 

Due to very specific examples, I have admittedly glossed over this section to avoid inaccuracies and unintended generalizations. I highly encourage your reading the paper on your own time for accuracy. 

Public health interventions

In this section, the authors are discussing public relations: how to get the word out. How to change public perception of back pain and the treatment of low back pain. They cite a successful campaign in Australia that used television ads with prominent public figures serving as the spokespeople. They felt it was well-funded and was successful in part due to the proper messaging but also due to laws and public policies that supported the campaign. 

Conclusions

The authors admit that even the solutions put forth in this paper are based on relatively limited evidence. The following are quotes from the conclusion:

  • “Focusing on key principles, such as the need to reduce unnecessary health care for low back pain, support people to be active and stay at work, and reform unhelpful patient clinical pathways and reimbursement models, could guide next steps.”
  • “No single solution will be effective, and a collective, global effort will take time, determination, and organization. Without the collaborative efforts of people with low back pain, policy makers, clinicians, and researchers necessary to develop and implement effective solutions, disability rates, and expenditure for low back pain will continue to rise.”

Key Takeaways:

A paper of this size and of this magnitude, and with the level of education of contributors honestly cannot be done complete justice by a review such as this. I admittedly hit the high spots on the treatment of low back pain. I am more focused in some areas than in others. More specific for some topics and more general in others. That is the nature of a summarization and I hope I am allowed that latitude. 

If you are research minded, if you are a low back pain patient, or if you are a practitioner regularly coming in contact with low back pain patients and interested in treatment of low back pain, it is my opinion that taking the time to read these three papers yourself is of utmost importance. 

Please find the links to the papers in the “References” section and get it done. Together, we can make a big, big difference in the lives of our low back pain patients. Without a doubt. 

For this week’s next step, go register with The Lancet and get this paper for free! You just have to register. That’s it. 

Next week we will review the third and final paper of this three paper series. Next week’s paper is called “Low back pain: a call to action.” It will continue with ideas toward treatment of low back pain. 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 https://www.chiropracticforward.com

As this podcast builds, so will the website with more content, products, and chances to learn.

 

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

 

Here is the link for Part One of The Lancet Review from last week:

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

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

 

 

References:

Paper 1 – “What low back pain is and why we need to pay attention: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(18)30480-X/fulltext

Paper 2 “Prevention and treatment of low back pain: evidence, challenges, and promising directions.”: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(18)30489-6/fulltext

Paper 3 – “Low back pain: a call for action”: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(18)30488-4/fulltext

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 https://www.chiropracticforward.com. Just below the area where you can listen to the latest episode, you’ll see an area where you can sign up for our newsletter. I’d like to encourage you to sign up. It’s just an email about once a week to let you know when the episode is updated and what it’s about. Also, if something brand new pops up, we’ll be able to tell you about it quickly and easily.

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. 

Prevalence

  • 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

Conclusion

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. 

Authors

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 dr.williams@chiropracticforward.com 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 https://twitter.com/JanHartvigsen, and Chris Maher https://twitter.com/CGMMaher 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 www.chiropracticforward.com. 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)

References: