With more people suffering form chronic back pain, an increasing attention is being directed towards cost-effective treatment for the same. A recent study has established that chiropractic care produces significantly better outcomes when compared to conventional treatment. Patients who underwent the therapy had higher pain relief and satisfaction and lower disability scores than a group that underwent medical care.
The study has been conducted in the American population where back pain associated costs are estimated to reach $48 billion this year. More than 80 % of the U.S. population is believed to suffer from chronic back pain at any given time. The study is the first of it's kind to compare low-back treatment costs and outcomes within the structure of the American health care system.
Nearly 2780 patients were involved in the study who had referred themselves to either a chiropractor or a medical doctor. Chiropractic care included spinal manipulation, physical therapies, exercise plan, and self-care patient education while medical care comprised of prescription drugs, exercise plan, self-care advice, and a referral to a physical therapist. The patients were evaluated at 3 and 12 months following referral with respect to the treatment cost and clinical outcome.
Taking into consideration, the cost of imaging and referral to physiotherapist, it was found that chiropractic care had a 16% reduction in the total cost when compared to the medical care. The differences between medical and chiropractic total costs were however not statistically probably because issues related to over-the-counter drug, hospitalization and surgical costs were overlooked in the present study.
Chiropractic treatment had a better clinical outcome in terms of pain and disability reduction. Patient satisfaction was also comparatively better among the acute and chronic group. The advantages were more relevant in the chronic pain group. Status of the physical and mental health improvement was comparable between both the treatment groups.
To conclude, following these findings, it might be time for health professionals to increase the treatment value by getting attuned to patient preferences. A rejuvenation of the existing clinical practice can be undertaken by a critical evaluation of the appropriateness of this form of treatment in low back pain by health organizations and policy makers.