CF 105: Thoughts on Chiropractic Groupon, Gabapentin, & Weight Loss Research

Today we’re going to talk about some thoughts on Groupon and Chiropractic, if you know me, you probably know where this is going and it’ll probably be fun. We’ll find out. We’ll talk about Gabapentin and we will talk about a couple of papers I encountered recently having to do with metabolism, intermittent fasting, and things of that nature. 

But first, here’s that sweet sweet bumper music

Chiropractic evidence-based products
Integrating Chiropractors
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OK, we are back and you have found the Chiropractic Forward Podcast where we are making evidence-based chiropractic fun, profitable, and accessible while we make you and your patients better all the way around. 

We’re the fun kind of research. Not the stuffy, high-brow kind of research. We’re research talk over a couple of beers. So feel free to crack one wide open would you?

Welcome, I’m Dr. Jeff Williams and I’m your host for the Chiropractic Forward podcast.  

If you haven’t yet I have a few things you should do. 

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Do it do it do it. 

You have plopped down into Episode #105 just like a comfy easy chair. 

Now if you missed last week’s episode talking about our TWO YEAR wrap up, make sure you don’t miss that episode. It was a lot of fun to put together and to reminisce on some of the amazing episodes we’ve had over the past two years. Good good stuff. 

Something new I found out here…..Did you know that if you have an Alexa product, you can now just say something like, “Alexa, play The Chiropractic Forward Podcast on Apple Podcasts” and kablooey! 

You automatically start to hear the golden throated stylings of yours truly! Lol. You can say skip ahead 30 seconds, play previous episode, and on and on so pretty cool right there. 

On the personal end of things, we just found out that Dad started moving his left leg today for the first time and that’s exciting. It’s the first REAL solid sign of big progress since his first stroke on November 9th. As you can imagine, we are ecstatic about this. Good stuff. Keep on keeping on Pops. Strong like bull!

Before we dive into the reason we’re here, it’s good to support the people that support you don’t you think? Well, ChiroUp certainly supports evidence-based practices. 

If you don’t take advantage of this deal, I just think you might be crazy.

If you’re a regular listener of our podcast, you know I’ve used ChiroUp since about June of 2018. Let me tell you about it because I’m about to give you a way to do a FREE TRIAL and, if you sign up, only pay $99/month for the first six months which is pennies compared to what it’s worth. So listen up!

ChiroUp is changing the way we practice by simplifying patient education and here’s what I mean: 

In a matter of seconds, you can send condition-specific reports to your patients with recommendations for treatment, for their activities of daily living, & for their exercises. 

You can see how this saves you time – no more explaining & re-explaining your patient’s care, because they have access to it at their fingertips. 

You can be confident that your patients are getting the best possible care, because the reports are populated based on what the literature recommends and isn’t that re-assuring? All of that work has been done FOR you. 

There are more than 1000 providers worldwide using ChiroUp to empower their treatments, patients, & practice – Including myself! **Short testimony**

If you don’t know what it’s all about or you’d like to check it out, do yourself a favor and go to Chiroup.com today to get started with your FREE TRIAL – Use code Williams99 to pay only $99/month for your first 6 months

That’s ChiroUp.com and super double secret code Williams99.

Item #1

Alright let’s dive in. We’ll save Groupon until the last because if I know me, it’ll be what I have the most to say out of all of these. 

Let’s start with Gabapentin shall we? The most recent article I’ve come across was in The Atlantic. It was authored by Olga Khazan and called ‘Chronic Pain Is An Impossible Problem’. It was posted December 9, 2019(Khazan O 2019). 

That’s got some sizzle on it!!

Some key points in the article are that 

  • Chronic pain affects about 1/5 of American adults
  • For years those in the medical field thought it could be treated with painkillers like Oxy but that was proven wrong when basically three planeloads of Americans started dying of opioid-related causes each week
  • Now, they’ve turned to Gabapentin, an anticonvulsant, to help treat it. 
  • From 2012-2016 prescriptions of the medication went up 64%
  • There is emerging information that Gabapentin may not be as safe as previously believed. Certainly when combined with other sedating meds. 
  • When taking it long-term, patients can develop tolerance so more and more is required to reach the desired effect. 
  • There is also a withdrawl effect when trying to get off of gabapentin. 
  • People are now starting to use Gabapentin in combination with Baclofen and benzos like Xanax to increase the intoxicating effect. We can see where that is going can’t we?
  • The article goes on to say, “not only does gabapentin appear to exacerbate or create overdose risk, it also doesn’t work well for chronic pain.” They site a study that we’ll cover in a second. 
  • The paper wraps up by saying they’re essentially out of option when it comes to chronic pain. Which to me says they’ve run out of pills basically. That doesn’t mean they’re out of options though. 
  • Arthur Robin Williams, an assistant professor at Columbia University says “The medical community should take a closer look at non-pill remedies such as physical therapy and psychotherapy…I would add evidence-informed chiropractic… These treatments are often not covered by insurance, take longer to work, and take more of providers’ time. But for many, they might be a better option than yet another pill that has yet another pathway to abuse. “The reality is, a lot of the pills that change how you feel in the next 10 to 30 minutes,” Williams says, “carry addictive liability.”

Well…..no kidding? Who would have ever thought that? Hmmm….let’s see. Oh yeah, every chiropractor and PT that ever lived. 

Let’s combine that with a systematic review and meta-analysis from just last year that was in the Canadian Medical Association Journal called “Anticonvulsants in the treatment of low back pain and lumbar radicular pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis”(Enke O 2018)

  • Nine trials compared topiramate, gabapentin or pregabalin to placebo in 859 unique participants. Fourteen of 15 comparisons found anticonvulsants were not effective to reduce pain or disability in low back pain or lumbar radicular pain. 
  • There was high-quality evidence of no effect of gabapentinoids vs. placebo on chronic low back pain. 
  • The lack of efficacy is accompanied by increased risk of adverse events from use of gabapentinoids, for which the level of evidence is high.

It is painfully obvious (no pun intended) that pills aren’t cure-alls and aren’t curing the pain problem. And they won’t sure the pain problem so isn’t it time to look elsewhere? In the year 2020?

All of this is cited in the show notes at chiropracticforward.com. Go get the article and the paper. Use it to educate your community on gabapentin. Set yourself as the reasonable alternative to it. 

Item #2

Fasting and weight loss. I want to be right up front on this, I’ve always wanted to make nutrition and weight loss a part of my practice in some shape form or fashion but, if I’m being honest, I’m just straight up a big big dude. Like I’m 6’4” and, depending on the time of year, 280+. I was a college offensive lineman. I played center and i anchored that line pretty well with my overall biggness. Lol. 

Cat-like reflexes people but big as a damn house. So, I’m not going to teach you how to implement weight-loss into your practice here but I am going to give you some interesting research I cam across recently that might make you think a bit. 

The first paper on this is called “Effects of time-restricted feeding on body weight and metabolism. A systematic review and meta-analysis”. It was published in Reviews in Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders, authored by P Marianna, C Iolanda, et. al. and published December 2019. (Marianna P 2019)

Hot to the touch. It’ll burn your  damn finger prints off. 

Why They Did It

Restriction in meal timing has emerged as a promising dietary approach for the management of obesity and dysmetabolic diseases. The present systematic review and meta-analysis summarized the most recent evidence on the effect of time-restricted feeding (TRF) on weight-loss and cardiometabolic variables in comparison with unrestricted-time regimens.

How They Did It

  • A total of 11 studies, 5 randomized controlled trials and 6 observational, were included
  • All selected studies had a control group without time restriction
  • Most studies involved the Ramadan fasting

Wrap It Up

Time restricted feeding regimens achieved a superior effect in promoting weight-loss and reducing fasting glucose compared to approaches with unrestricted time in meal consumption. 

As we’ve covered, systematic reviews and meta-analysis are, ideally, high-level research and, considering the majority of the included studies involved the Ramadan fasting regimen, I went to search it up to see what the what. 

So, what exactly is a Ramadan Fasting Regimen? Well let me tell you. And I’m not going for the fancy stuff because I’m tapped for time here so we’re just going to hit up Wikipedia real quick and Wiki says that the basics are:

  • Fasting from sun up to sun down
  • Abstinence from sex, food, and drink
  • It also means one should refrain from things like
  • violence
  • anger
  • envy
  • greed
  • lust
  • angry/sarcastic retort
  • gossip
  • and you’re supposed to get along with others better than you normally do

In America at least, I’m certain we’ll all just do the food part because everyone’s so busy looking for a reason to be offended that I’m certain being nice and getting along is off the table for now. 

So, if you have any personal experience with intermittent fasting, if you’re an expert on the topic, shoot me an email at dr.williams@chiropracticforward.com Let’s talk about it. Maybe we can set up some guests and do a full episode or two on the topic to educate our community of docs on the matter. Sounds like a great topic so hit me up. 

Now, the last thing I have here I want to talk about is Groupon. 

This one is a bit of a trigger for me honestly. Looky here. I am well aware that people are struggling. I’m well aware that I am fortunate and to sit and judge can seem disconnected and unfair at minimum to some. I definitely get that. 

What I also understand is that a whole bunch of those that are struggling are in a profession they really shouldn’t be in because they’re lazy and want to sit behind their desks and hit a few buttons and be magically transformed into a master chiro with an office stocked full of patients and never ending new patients. 

That’s magic time dreamland stuff. 

There will always be supposed shortcuts. There will always be business hacks or whatever you want to call them. But at the end of the day, shouldn’t you make decisions while keeping several things in mind? Meaning, you have to do what is best for your family. You have to do what is best for your office and your employees. But don’t you feel like you should make decisions based on what is best for your profession and for your colleagues?

I would hate to think that I’ve done something that damages my profession . Obviously I don’t mind calling out BS business practices and unethical chiropractors. If that’s damaging my profession well then, I’m guilty as hell. 

But when you are making the deals some of these guys and gals are making on Groupon, you are demeaning, lessening, and trashing what the rest of us take a great deal of pride in. 

Imagine, you go through chiropractic school, you survive 21+ years in practice while steadily getting more and more education, you take on a Diplomate program and finally complete that, and you are fighting on the state level for your profession and your profession’s image…..and then you open your email. 

Yes, I get emails from Groupon with their best and newest deals. I open it up and BAM….It almost seems like all of that work can just be flushed down the toilet. It’s depressing and it makes me want to club baby seals. 

Before we start talking about the article, I did a quick search for Groupon deals in my area and, right there next to Reflexology deals popped up this:

  • 10% cash back – Sounds like a damn car deal
  • Consultation, exam, x-rays, adjustment, and one full-body vibration plate session for $70. Way to value your services. Great. Way to look awesome. Assuming they actually need vibration plate. Assuming they actually need x-rays, assuming they even need and adjustment. Blah
  • Then this one, it’ll make you tickle – One laser lipo session w/ two vibe plate sessions for $45. See…..in Texas, you can only have laser lipo if you’re trying to increase function. Not just look better. So, that’s not necessarily legal as this implies to me it’s for looks. Unless they have a medical director and I’m here to tell you they do not. 
  • When you go to the bigger cities, it only gets worse. I found a $564 value for only $43.70!!! What a damn deal!!!

It’s all just shady and sketchy. Luckily, there are only two in my area doing this stuff. And if they keep it up, we may have two less competitors here as well. 

Besides the shady, street corner huckster look it so convincingly creates, it’s potentially illegal based on the idea of fee splitting, Medicare inducement, and dual fee schedules and, if the state boards start getting their acts together and going after this stuff, they will be the ones to go down. 

What started me down this path today was an article I came across called “Legal Implications of Chiropractic Groupons.” It was written and posted on the website for Carlson and Jayakumar – attorneys at law. I’ll have the link in the show notes. https://cjattorneys.com/legal-implications-of-chiropractic-groupons/

Highlight of the article include:

  • Each day, numerous chiropractors contract with Groupon and its competitors to sell certificates for adjustments, examinations, x-rays and massages. 
  • Despite the variety of services offered, these programs all have two things in common: (1) the chiropractor is offering a significant discount –92% in some examples, and (2) the chiropractor is sharing the income from each certificate sale – usually around 50% – with the website. While we are unaware of any state board taking action against a licensee for a Groupon-style offering, we believe these programs could create significant civil and criminal liability for chiropractors.
  • most states have rules prohibiting the offer or acceptance by a chiropractor of any commission, discount, or other consideration as compensation or inducement for referring patients, clients, or customers to any person, irrespective of the practitioner’s membership, proprietary interest or co-ownership in or with that person. I was once offered the opportunity to buy in to an imaging center here in town. As badly as I wanted to do it, I made the mistake of hiring two different attorneys for their opinions. BOTH advised against and this is exactly why. 
  • With Groupon, money is paid by the chiropractor to the website in connection with a patient’s referral. The chiropractor essentially, albeit indirectly pays the website per patient that purchases the certificate. At their base, these agreements require the chiropractor to pay the website for soliciting, referring and/or procuring clients not he chiropractor’s behalf. Stuff you’re not supposed to do and can get in a lot of trouble for. 
  • Medicare’s Anti-Kickback Statute criminalized the payment of kickbacks for patient referrals. Subsequent laws expanded it to all federalpay programs. Kickbacks include “any remuneration,” a very broad definition, which includes coupons. The Office of the Inspector General issued a “Special Fraud Alert” regarding advertisements offering “discounts” given to Medicare beneficiaries. Then a “Special Advisory Bulletin” appeared on offering inducements to Medicare beneficiaries. Essentially, it said a provider could not offer a patient anything worth more than $10, and combined $50 in a year for multiple gifts.
  • Groupon-style deals are unadvisable as they may pose problems with insurance companies. Most insurance policies will not pay for any charges that would not have been made in the absence of insurance. Groupon offerings, which almost always charge a lower fee to the purchaser versus insured patients, could be viewed as creating a “dual fee schedule.”  Insurers believe dual fee schedules constitute fraud and over billing. Some argue that Groupons are merely a version of a prompt-payment discount. While California law expressly permits prompt-payment discounts, such discounts must be reasonable. Given the extreme nature of the discounts typically offered by Groupon and its competitors, such certificates likely would not fall under the prompt-pay exception.

They conclude that “Given their widespread use, it seems unlikely that the Board of Chiropractic Examiners would discipline each and every licensee who engages or has engaged in Groupon-style offerings. That said, there may be a rash of “test case” or “example” disciplinary actions that follow. Eventually, we would expect the Board to adopt a regulation, or the Legislature to pass legislation, that explicitly either proscribes or prohibits the use of these deals. In the meantime, we recommend that chiropractors abstain from these types of marketing campaigns….”

I couldn’t agree more with them. 

When I opened up a new place h ere in Amarillo, I printed flyers at Kinko’s and I walked from one business to another knocking on doors and meeting people and telling them about me and my new place. I marketed anyone that could send me business. For more on that, go back about 5 episodes and listen to our episodes called Big Ideas On Marketing Evidence-Based Practices. Link is in the show notes. 

You must know this just isn’t the way to go. Join BNI, join civic clubs, start working out at a gym and get tight with the managers and personal trainers, spend time volunteering, joint a running club if that’s your gig, combine those things with social media and a solid email list that you continue to build and work on. There are so many things you can do that are above the cuff. That are respectable and raise up you and your profession. 

Groupon isn’t one of them. It does exactly the opposite. It identifies those of us who are racing to the bottom of the barrel and dragging the rest of us down with them. 

If you’re doing Groupon, it’s my opinion that it’s time to stand up, stop doing it. Yesterday..if you catch my drift

Store

Part of making your life easier 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. Just shoot me an email at dr.williams@chiropracticforward.com if something is out of sorts or isn’t working correctly. 

If you’re like me, you get tired of answering the same old questions. Well, these brochures make great ways of educating while saving yourself time and breath. They’re also great for putting in take-home folders. 

Go check them out at chiropracticforward.com under the store link. While you’re there, sign up for the newsletter won’t you? We won’t spam you. Just one email per week to remind you when the new episode comes out. That’s it. 

Chiropractic evidence-based products
Integrating Chiropractors
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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 us that patients can get good to excellent results for headaches, neck pain, back pain, and joint pain just to name just a few.

It’s safe and cost-effective. It can decrease surgeries & disability and we normally do it through conservative, non-surgical means with minimal hassle to 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 of the patient!

Key Point:

Patients should have the guarantee of having the best treatment offering the least harm. When it comes to non-complicated musculoskeletal complaints….

That’s Chiropractic!

Contact

Send us an email at dr dot williams at chiropracticforward.com and let us know what you think of our show 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. 

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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

Enke O (2018). “Anticonvulsants in the treatment of low back pain and lumbar radicular pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” CMAJ(190): E786-793.

Khazan O (2019) “Chronic Pain Is an Impossible Problem A “safe” alternative to opioid painkillers turns out to be not so safe.” The Atlantic.

Marianna P, I. C., Andrea E, Valentina P, Ilaria G, Giovannino C, Ezio G, Simona B, (2019). “Effects of time-restricted feeding on body weight and metabolism. A systematic review and meta-analysis.” Rev Endocr Metab Disord.

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