Low Back Pain, Reduced Disability and Chiropractic:
A Study in Proper Diagnosis
A report on the scientific literature
William J. Owens DC, DAAMLP
Mark Studin DC, FASBE (C), DAAPM, DAAMLP
When you are experiencing pain in the lower back, it can often be intense and cause for worry. You wonder how something can hurt so badly and are looking for anything to reduce the discomfort. Many times these types of pain cause an admission the emergency room. In a recent study by Orlin and Didriksen (2007), the authors stated, “The objectives of this study were to report on and evaluate the results of chiropractic care for patients with low back pain in an orthopedic department” (p. 135). This is an important study since it shows the results of direct cooperative care amongst chiropractors and orthopedic surgeons in a hospital setting.1 With pain in any body area, proper diagnosis is a key component of care and directly effects treatment methods and expected response time (prognosis). The primary goal is to reduce pain and return you to your normal personal and working activities. The longer an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan is delayed, the longer disability continues.
Many studies have shown that collaboration among clinicians is in the best interest of the patient and results in better care. When you are diagnosed with low back pain, the assessment of the mechanics of the bones and muscles is an important component of your examination. This is completed in conjunction with neurologic and orthopedic examination procedures completed by the chiropractor and ensures that the cause of your pain is identified. In some cases such as trauma, advanced imaging such as MRI may be ordered prior to treatment. A proper diagnosis MUST precede treatment. Otherwise, the doctor does not know what he/she is treating!
In this study, the authors stated, “Examination by the doctor of chiropractic indicated that the patients had lumbopelvic fixation” (Orlin & Didreksen, 2007, p. 135). What this means is there was a biomechanical problem in the bones of the spine and pelvic area, also known as a subluxation. This is a functional problem that doctors of chiropractic are specifically trained to identify and treat. When these types of conditions are identified early on in care, the response to treatment is impressive. The authors stated, “According to pre-established inclusion and exclusion criteria, 33 patients were treated in the chiropractor’s clinic, whereas 11 who could not be transported were initially treated by the chiropractor in the hospital.” (Orlin & Didreksen, 2007, p. 135). In this study, only two patients could not return to work.
"The period of sick leave among the patients was reduced by two thirds as compared with that associated with conventional medical treatment.” (Orlin & Didreksen, 2007, p. 135). This is important because it showcases integrative care utilizing doctors of chiropractic, but also demonstrates how achieving a diagnosis quickly truly influences care. In fact, this approach is so effective that the Federal Government is utilizing doctors of chiropractic as part of the comprehensive approach to caring for our soldiers. H.R. 1017 requires the VA to have doctors of chiropractic on staff at no fewer than 75 major VA medical centers before the end of 2011 and for all major VA medical centers to have a doctor of chiropractic on staff before the end of 2013. There are nearly 160 VA treatment facilities nationwide. Currently, the VA provides chiropractic care at 32 treatment facilities across the country.2
All in all, cooperation is truly the “best medicine” for spine care. If you have spinal pain, seeking the attention of a doctor of chiropractic is a good decision. Communicating with your medical provider that you have sought out chiropractic care allows for better management of your pain and will ultimately help others as well. The final word from the authors was that, “This study shows that a chiropractor may play an important role in an orthopedic department by reducing pain and shortening the duration of sick leave among patients" (Orlin & Didreksen, 2007, p. 138).
This study along with many others concludes that a drug-free approach of chiropractic care is one of the best solutions to acute neck pain and returning to a normal life. To find a qualified doctor of chiropractic near you go to the US Chiropractic Directory at www.USChiroDirectory.com and search your state.
1. Orlin, J. R. & Didriksen, A. (2007). Results of chiropractic treatment of lumbopelvic fixation in 44 patients admitted to an orthopedic department. Journal of Manipulative and Physiologic Therapeutics, 30(2),135-139.
2. Lukcas, C. & Lee, M. (2010). House passes bill to expand chiropractic care to all major VA medical hospitals. ACA Today. Retrieved from http://www.acatoday.org/press_css.cfm?CID=3943