We all like to save money. Our government, insurance companies, and individuals are all interested in keeping medical costs down. A recent study looked at the costs involved in two methods of treating patients who had chronic low back pain: either opioid analgesic therapy or chiropractic care. Which would you guess is cheaper?
What does the Research Show?
This study was reported in the peer-reviewed Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. It reviewed records of Medicare patients. Medicare keeps good records, and the researchers reviewed the cases of 28,000 patients, age 65-84, who had received either opioid analgesic therapy or chiropractic care for their back pain that had troubled them for six months or more. 21,000 patients had received opioids and 7000 had gotten chiropractic care.
Here’s a surprise, but please read further…
For just opioid treatment alone, the cost of care was less expensive than chiropractic. In thinking this through, it makes sense. The costs would be simply the drugs themselves and an occasional doctor’s visit. Whereas chiropractic care would involve a number of visits to the chiropractor.
But what happens when we look at overall healthcare expenses? In the long-term, overall healthcare expenses for chiropractic care were approximately half of those for opioid treatment.
How can we explain that?…
The answer is fairly simple. Opioids don’t fix the problem. Many of the patients treated with opioids go on to surgery. Far fewer chiropractic patients require surgery. Furthermore, many of the opioid patients become addicted to their drugs. Chiropractic is drug-free.
This study again demonstrates that conservative care should be your first choice for back or neck care. And chiropractic, specifically, has been recommended by the National Low Back Pain Guidelines of the US, Great Britain, Sweden, Denmark and Australia. Furthermore, the American College of Physicians recommends chiropractic for chronic, subacute and acute low back pain.
Yours for better health,
Jon Mills, DC