Health Report! Your Monthly
THE BACK PAIN
EPIDEMIC In 2006, doctors performed at least 60 million surgical procedures of all types — one for every five Americans. No other country does nearly as many operations on its citizens.
Ironically, now the chiropractic profession — long ostracized by the medical profession — has emerged as a fiscally conservative option to champion this call for reducing costs in health care. Despite the historic medical prejudice, spinal manipulation has now been shown to be the most clinically and cost-effective method for the epidemic of low back pain, which happens to be the single largest cause of disability today. And The Vinton Method™ multidisciplinary approach of extremely low-force, neuro-spinal alignment, VAX-D disc decompression therapy, biofeedback, and Foot Levelers™ arch support is in a league of its own, producing the highest achievable levels of success. According to Pran Manga, PhD, a health economist, “There is an overwhelming body of evidence indicating that chiropractic management of low back pain is more cost-effective than medical management.” He is not alone in this assessment. Numerous international and American studies have shown that manipulation was heads above all other treatments for nonspecific back pain. In fact, Anthony Rosner, PhD, testified before the Institute of Medicine: “Today, we can argue that chiropractic care, at least for back pain, appears to have vaulted from last to first place as a treatment option.” (Not that chiropractic ever was in last place, just for financial reasons in the minds of medical doctors.) Chiropractic care has not only catapulted to the top of the list for back pain care, but chiropractic patients are also extremely positive about their treatments. Tricare, the health program for military personnel and retirees, has evaluated patients’ responses to chiropractic care. The enormously high patient satisfaction rates astounded the Tricare administrators with scores of 94.3% in the Army; the Air Force tally was also high with 12 of 19 bases scoring 100%; the Navy reported ratings of 90% or higher; and even the Tricare outpatient satisfaction surveys (TROSS) rated chiropractors at 88.54%, which was 10% higher than “the overall satisfaction with all providers” (78.31%). But despite these glowing satisfaction rates for chiropractic care, Tricare continues to limit access to chiropractors to only 42 of 131 military treatment facilities due to intransigent medical bureaucracy within the Department of Defense. It’s not just that patients are well-satisfied with chiropractic care; in fact, the more investigators look into this back pain epidemic, the more the medical management has come under attack and, remarkably, chiropractic treatment has been found to be best for the vast majority of nonspecific low back and neck pain.
Surgeries are rampant, and many of them are ineffective and dangerous. Barbara Starfield, MD, MPH, of the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, reported that medical error is now the third-leading cause of death in the U.S., causing 250,000 preventable deaths every year. Over 100,000 people die each year from complications during surgery, which far exceeds the number of people who die in car crashes annually. Deaths from prescription drugs now rank fourth only behind cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, and when added to the deaths from botched surgery, over 3,000 Americans die weekly. Such deaths account for 23% of overall deaths in men and 32% of deaths in women. To put this cost into perspective, the U.S. spent twice as much on sick care as it did on food in 2006. In addition, the increase in U.S. health care spending during the next three years was more than the amount U.S. consumers spent on oil and gasoline during all of 2006, when energy prices began to reach new heights. BACK PAIN DILEMMA Undoubtedly, the annual cost of health care — nearly $2.4 trillion — could be reduced substantially if unnecessary treatments were decreased. Of the top 10 major conditions in America, back pain stands at No. 8, which, according to Forbes.com, costs over $40 billion annually for treatment costs alone. Other estimates that include disability, work loss, and total indirect costs range from $100–$200 billion per year. Back pain sent over 3 million people to emergency rooms in 2008 at a cost of $9.5 billion, making it the ninth most expensive condition treated in U.S. hospitals. “Work-related musculoskeletal disorders remain the leading cause of workplace injury and illness in this country,” according to OSHA head David Michaels. Although not the killer that heart disease or cancer is, crippling back pain is expensive, disabling, and often leads to osteoarthritis later in life, which ranks ahead of back pain on the top 10 list at $48 billion. When combined, these two musculoskeletal conditions rank fourth on the list at $88 billion. Recently, a new wave of data by researchers has revealed the high cost and ineffectiveness of most medical back treatments. Yet these revelations have fallen on deaf ears in the medical profession, as the use of opioids, epidural steroid injections, and spine surgeries has radically increased despite these warnings.
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