Recently this article was produced on PBS News Hour and upset a lot of people (read comments). It also received some positive reviews, mostly from medical practitioners. After reading it, I have to say there is a general agreement among the physicians I have spoken to that much of this article is right on target.
At some point almost everyone has back pain or has some type of injury that manifests itself as back pain. Unfortunately there are many people out in the medical world who take advantage of a patient’s (often temporary) suffering, the chance to make some money, and a medically under-educated client who needs to believe in someone.
Very often a network of chiropractors, lawyers, radiologists, surgeons and pain doctors can take a self-limiting problem, and while turning it into a lawsuit, turn a normal person into a drug addicted patient who has had one diagnosis turn into a multitude of life changing problems.
Is chiropractic care ever necessary for a back injury? Certainly, it will make some people feel better and that’s great, but if the chiropractor gives you 12 weeks of appointments, you need to question that. Most evidence based research shows little benefit for chiropractic manipulations after 6-8 weeks of ongoing DC or PT treatments for spine pain.
Pain meds need to be avoided. They make people unmotivated, sleepy and lead to addiction. They do not cure back pain. We need to work on the cause, not just the symptoms. Anti-inflammatories, ice and exercise go to the cause and decrease the pain.
Don’t look at your MRI report and think you are in big trouble. Very often they are over-read and many of the things that are pointed out are just normal aging of the spine. If you feel less pain, numbness and tingling, and no weakness, you are getting better. It doesn’t matter what the MRI says.
Do you need surgery? 90% of people with back pain get better on their own with no help from any of us. Of the 10% left, maybe half of them will benefit from surgery. Ask the surgeon how many of his/her patients they operate on. Get a second opinion. And like the article says, if one doctor out of five recommends surgery, don’t do it.
As patients, we need to be more aware of what is happening with our care. If it doesn’t help, say no. Don’t let the promise of big dollars ruin your life and the lives of those around you. And most important of all, move. Your body and your mind need it!
- Adams J, Peng W, Cramer H, Sundberg T, Moore C, Amorin-Woods L, Sibbritt D, Lauche R, Masters of Clinical Trials Research.. The prevalence, patterns, and predictors of chiropractic use among US adults: Results from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2017 Apr 28; PubMed PMID: 28459779