Chiropractic

What is Chiropractic?

Chiropractic is a health care profession that focuses on disorders of the muscle-skeletal system and the nervous system, and the effects of these disorders on general health.  Chiropractic care is used most often to treat neuromusculoskeletal complaints, including but not limited to back pain, neck pain, pain in the joints of the arms or legs, and headaches.

Doctors of Chiropractic – often referred to as chiropractors or chiropractic physicians – practice a drug-free, hands-on approach to health care that includes patient examination, diagnosis and treatment. Chiropractors have broad diagnostic skills and are also trained to recommend therapeutic and rehabilitative exercises, as well as to provide nutritional, dietary and lifestyle counseling.

Key Facts:

  • Doctors of Chiropractic (DCs) are utilized by all 32 National Football League teams in optimizing the functionality, endurance and overall conditioning of professional football players in the treatment of neuromusculoskeletal strain injuries, including neck pain, low back pain, strains to hamstrings and quadriceps, and whiplash injuries. 1
  • Injured workers with similar injuries are 28 times less likely to have spinal surgery if the first point of contact is a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC), rather than a surgeon (MD). 2
  • A recent study showed that treatment for low back pain initiated by a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) costs up to 20 percent less than when started a MD. 3
  • Doctors of Chiropractic (DCs) are designated as physician-level providers in the vast majority of states and federal Medicare program. The essential services provided by DCs are also available in federal health delivery systems, including those administered by Medicaid, the U.S. Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense, Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, Federal Workers’ Compensation, and all state workers’ compensation programs. 4
  • Chiropractic outperformed all other back pain treatments, including prescription medication, deep-tissue massage, yoga, pilates, and over-the-counter medication therapies. 5
  • Doctors of Chiropractic (DCs) are the highest rated healthcare practitioner for low-back pain treatments above physical therapists (PTs), specialist physician/MD (i.e., neurosurgeons, neurologists, orthopaedic surgeons), and primary care physician/MD (i.e., family or internal medicine). 6
  • Doctors of Chiropractic (DCs) provide a patient-centered, whole person approach to health care marked by greater interaction and better communication, resulting in consistently higher patient satisfaction ratings than medical doctors. 7
  • The Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) collaborative, whole person-centered approach reflects the changing realities of health care delivery, and fits well into Accountable Care Organization (ACO) and patient-centered, medical home (PCMH) models bringing greater clinical efficiency, patient satisfaction and cost savings. 8
  • A systematic review in 2010 found that most studies suggest spinal manipulation achieves equal or superior improvement in pain and function when compared with other commonly used interventions for short, intermediate, and long-term follow-up. 9
  • The American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society jointly recommended in 2007 that clinicians consider spinal manipulation for patients who do not improve with self-care options. 10

1 Professional Football Chiropractic Society (PFCS) 2010 www.profootballchiros.com
2 Keeney BJ; Fulton-Kehoe D; Turner JA; Wickizer TM; Chan KC; Franklin GM; Early Predictors of Lumbar Spinal Surgery After Occupational Back Injury; Results from a Prospective Study of Workers in Washington State. Spine, May 2013; 38(11):953-64. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23238486
3 Richard L. Liliedahl, Michael D. Finch, David V. Axene, Christine M. Goertz. Cost of Care for Common Back Pain Conditions Initiated with Chiropractic Doctor vs. Medical Doctor/Doctor of Osteopathy as First Physician: Experience of One Tennessee-Based General Health Insurer. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics; November 2010; 33(9):640-643.
4 American Chiropractic Association (ACA), 2013. http://www.acatoday.org/pdf/physicianstatus.pdf
5 Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center. Back-Pain Treatments. ConsumerReports.org; July 2011.
6 Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center. Relief for your aching back: What worked for our readers. ConsumerReports.org; March 2013.
7 Gaumer G, PhD. Factors associated with patient satisfaction with chiropractic care: survey and review of the literature. JMPT 2006 July-Aug; 29(6):455
8 Accountable Care Organizations Optimize Outcomes, Cost Savings and Patient Satisfaction with Chiropractic Care. Foundation for Chiropractic Progress. May 2013.
9 Dagenais S, Gay RE, Tricco AC, Freeman MD, Mayer JM (2010). NASS Contemporary Concepts in Spine Care: Spinal manipulation therapy for acute low back pain. The Spine Journal 10 (10): 918–940.
10 Chou R, Qaseem A, Snow V et al. Recommendation 7. Diagnosis and treatment of low back pain: a joint clinical practice guideline from the American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society. Annals of Internal Medicine 147 (7): 478–91.