Chiropractic Can Prevent Absenteeism in the Workplace from Chronic Pain
A report on the scientific literature
By Mark Studin DC, FASBE(C), DAAPM, DAAMLP
According to Cady (2014) over 100 million Americans experience chronic pain with common painful conditions including back pain, neck pain, headaches/migraines, and arthritis, in addition to other painful conditions such as diabetic peripheral neuropathy, etc...In a large study in 2010, 30.7% of over 27,000 U.S. respondents reported an experience of chronic, recurrent pain of at least a 6-month duration. Half of the respondents with chronic pain noted daily symptoms, with 32% characterizing their pain as severe (≥7 on a scale ranging from 0 to 10). Chronic pain has a broad impact on emotional well-being and health-related quality of life, sleep quality, and social/recreational function.
Peterson ET. AL. (2012) reported, “The … prevalence of low back pain is stated to be between 15% and 30%, the 1-year period prevalence between 15% and 45%, and a life-time prevalence of 50% to 80%” (pg. 525). Apkarian Et. Al. (2004) reported that “Ten percent of adults suffer from severe chronic pain. Back problems constitute 25% of all disabling occupational injuries and are the fifth most common reason for visits to the clinic; in 85% of such conditions, no definitive diagnosis can be made.” (pg. 10410) The reference to no definitive diagnosis is reflective of allopathy, or in common terms, the medical community.
In contrast, Peterson ET. AL. (2012) reported “investigate outcomes and prognostic factors in patients with acute or chronic low back pain (LBP) undergoing chiropractic treatment. In chronic LBP, recent studies indicate that significant improvement is often fairly rapid, usually by the fourth visit, and that patients initially receiving treatment 3 to 4 times a week have better outcomes. Patients with chronic and acute back pain both reported good outcomes, and most patients with radiculopathy (neurogenic) also improved” (pg. 525). “At 3 months, 69% of patients with chronic pain stated that they were either much better or better. This is unlikely to be due to the natural history of low back pain because these patients have already passed the period when natural history occurs “(pg. 531). As a note, this author has been caring for chronic back pain sufferers for 34 years and my personal observation is that 90%+ of all patients feel better and have significantly increased function in a short amount of time. However, for the purposes of this article, I will utilize the published 69%.
Cady (2014) wrote “In addition to the pervasive personal suffering associated with this disease, chronic pain has a substantial negative financial impact on the economy. Direct office visits, diagnostic testing, hospital care, and pharmacy costs are only a portion of the picture, with combined medical and pharmacy costs averaging $5,000 annually per individual (Pizzi, 2005). Chronic pain results in a significant economic burden on the healthcare system, with estimated costs ranging from $560 to $635 billion 2010 dollars, more than the annual cost of other priority health conditions including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes (Gaskin & Richard, 2012). Moreover, the estimated annual costs of the workplace impact of pain range from $299 to $335 billion from absenteeism and reduced productivity (Gaskin & Richard, 2012).” (pg. 1-2)
We have already established that 10% of adults suffer from chronic pain and that back pain constitutes 25% of that population and chiropractic helps 69% of chronic sufferers. Therefore if 25% of all chronic pain is back pain and chiropractic helps 69%, then the numbers extrapolate as follows:
Economic burden on the healthcare system:
$560-$635 billion x 25% (back pain) = $140-$159 billion
$140-$159 billion x 69% (chiropractic helps) = $97-$110,000,000,000 (billion)
Absenteeism and Reduced Productivity Costs
$299-$335 billion x 25% (back pain) = $75-$84 billion
$75-$84 billion x 69% (chiropractic helps) = $52-$58,000,000,000 (billion)
We also know that chiropractic is one of the safest treatments currently available in healthcare and when there is a treatment where the potential for benefits far outweighs any risk, it deserves serious consideration. Whedon, Mackenzie, Phillips, and Lurie (2015) based their study on 6,669,603 subjects after the unqualified subjects had been removed from the study and accounted for 24,068,808 office visits. They concluded, “No mechanism by which SM [spinal manipulation] induces injury into normal healthy tissues has been identified (Whedon et al., 2015, p. 5).
Unfortunately, the likelihood that a medical provider in any subspecialty will encounter chronic pain and its complications will only increase in the future as the population advances in age and body mass. In addition, based upon the statistics there needs no extrapolation as to who should be the primary spine care provider or first option to treat chronic back pain or any mechanical back pain (no fracture, tumor or infection). We have verified that allopathy (medical doctors) not being able to conclude a diagnosis 85% of the time, where chiropractic has verified diagnosis and solutions 69% (or my 90% +) in verified scientific outcomes.
The conclusions are not an indictment against medicine, it is a conclusion based upon science to put billions back into our economy while first helping those in chronic pain with a “best outcome” solution.