Are Patients Seeing Chiropractors First?
Patients & Friends,
Just a few decades ago in America medical doctors were not allowed to refer patients to chiropractors, even for back pain. Usually patients with back pain went to physicians and physical therapists first, coming to our office only when they continued to hurt. My how times have changed!
Since that time, spinal manipulation has been endorsed by Federal health agencies, AMA guidelines have been amended to permit full association between medical physicians and doctors of chiropractic, and utilization of chiropractic by the public has increased dramatically.
By the 1980s, AMA guidelines were first amended to include full referral relationships between medical doctors and chiropractic physicians. Research from Europe began to inform scientists at the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Policy and Research, who in 1994 developed the first ever national guidelines for back pain treatment that listed spinal manipulation—mainly performed by chiropractors in America—as “safe and effective,” and “proven” treatment for acute low back pain.
An update of the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in 2010 listed spinal manipulation as effective for both acute and chronic neck and back pain, tension and migraine headaches.
Previously studies showed that no more than 25% of adults in the U.S. had ever been to a chiropractor in their lifetime. Yet just last Fall Gallop found that 1 in 4 Americans had used chiropractic in the past 5 years, and more than 50% had used chiropractic in their lifetime! This dramatic growth in use of chiropractic is accompanied by continuing reports of greater satisfaction with chiropractic care than with traditional medications or exercises alone.
Are patients with back pain seeing chiropractors first now? The idea of chiropractic physicians as “Gate Keepers” for conservative spine care is new but is evidence informed. Collaboration has grown to the point where there are now doctors of chiropractic at Veteran’s centers, military hospitals, and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Consider the evidence, and share your experiences with your family and friends, so they can benefit from seeing a chiropractor first!
Robert A. Leach, DC, MS, FICC(h), CHES