Chiropractic and Medical Doctors Working Together
It is not uncommon to see chiropractic and medical doctors working together when treating patients with a myriad of problems, from simple back or neck pain to patients with chronic disc and nerve syndromes.
While most of our cases are routine neck, back and spinal disc type problems, the cases that are most challenging are those for which chiropractic may only bring temporary relief. But when that relief means an improved quality of life, it can be a big deal to someone with lupus or multiple sclerosis, or some other chronic pain syndrome.
In routine spine cases, the chiropractic care itself becomes “diagnostic.” In other words, as long as the patient’s back or leg pain, or neck pain and hand numbness improve with a few weeks of care, then chances are good the patient can expect good results with chiropractic, and avoid expensive procedures and surgery.
On the other hand, cases that do not improve within 2-4 weeks of care, or when pain is accompanied by so called “red flags,” may require CT or MRI imaging, and/or referral to your primary care doctor or to a specialist.
Cases that are better but not resolving with use of chiropractic and progressive exercise sometimes benefit from your chiropractor and medical doctor working together, so that you benefit from medicines, injections, and/or referral for swimming. Referral for surgical consultation is reserved for cases where the condition is worsening and imaging indicates a specific problem that may benefit from surgery.
This model of chiropractors working with medical doctors is a relatively new and welcome change in the healthcare industry. Examples of this cooperation include integration of chiropractic into treatment of the Armed Services and at Veterans Administration treatment facilities, at a growing number of hospitals throughout the U.S., and at practice centers that include both medical and chiropractic physicians.
There is growing evidence that patients have better outcomes when their doctors work together to solve their health problems. There is also evidence that chiropractors advocate for and are in support of our national healthcare goals.
We are able to draw from both modern research as well as 30 years of practice, to guide you to a successful outcome, by working with your other doctors when indicated.
For better health,
Rob Leach, DC, MS, CHES, FICC(H)
1. Before consideration for back surgery, new Jan 2012 guidelines from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center plan require that a patient have completed a three month trial of chiropractic, physical therapy and back exercise and counseling: http://www.upmchealthplan.com/pdf/Dec_2011_PPU.pdf
2. There is some evidence that patients achieve better results when doctors work together: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20455690
3. Contrary to what we previously thought, back pain appears to worsen and increase in frequency when left untreated: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22381638
4. Multi-disciplinary rehabilitation programs have been shown to improve quality of life for back pain sufferers: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18278566
5. At least one survey suggests patients with MS who use alternative treatments such as manipulation, exercise or psychotherapy, achieve about as much improvement in disability as patients who use disease modifying therapy: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22302743
6. By 2004 Twenty six VA centers offered chiropractic services in a multi-disciplinary environment with other doctors: http://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=837
7. Recent research by Rob Leach, DC, (private practice), Ron Cossman, Ph.D., (MSU Social Science and Research Center), and Joyce Yates, Ed.D. (MSU Longest Student Health Center) found that the majority of chiropractors in Mississippi support the nation’s healthcare goals: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21807263
Photo is of Bill Morgan, DC (left) of the chiropractic unit at the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda where he works with physicians, with intern Lance Cohen.