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Chiropractic Care May Reduce Surgeries, X-rays

Back Pain Treatment Less Costly With Chiropractic Care
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Costs Down, Patient Satisfaction Up With Chiropractic Care continued...

Doctors, too, vary in the quality of care they offer back pain patients, Boden says. Patients without chiropractic care coverage may first see general practitioners who may run up health care costs by prematurely sending patients off to get expensive tests and treatments.

"A disease like back pain can have a lot of variability in the ways medical professionals approach patient care," Boden says. "The best thing is to have an organized, integrated approach that uses state-of-the-art and cost-effective care. Many -- if not most -- primary care providers have little training in how to manage musculoskeletal disorders. That leads to some of the costs. If you were to match a chiropractic network against trained physicians instead of general medical practitioners, you might get different results."

Chiropractic Care Entering Mainstream

This may be the first study to offer concrete evidence that chiropractic care saves money. But businesses already are getting the message, says George DeVries, president and CEO of American Specialty Health.

"Since 1987, we have thousands if not tens of thousands of employer groups that offer chiropractic coverage as a supplemental insurance rider," DeVries tells WebMD. "These range from mom-and-pop groceries to top-10 businesses. The reason they continue to offer these plans is patient satisfaction and low cost."

Boden says his institution is opening a new facility that will offer patients integrated medical care that will include chiropractic care.

"We have everything under one roof. The finishing piece is going to be a complementary medicine center that will include chiropractic, massage, acupuncture, and probably nutrition," he says.

Even so, it would be a leap of faith to say that doctors and chiropractors always agree on the best way to treat back pain.

"We screened 50% of the chiropractors in the Atlanta area before we found two who were medically appropriate and similar in approach to how we deal with spine problems," Boden says.

But Metz maintains that chiropractic care offers quality treatment of back pain.

"The bottom line is that conservative management of back care is effectively performed by doctors of chiropractic," he says. "In cases where medical intervention is needed, chiropractors are schooled to make the appropriate referrals. It is a cost-effective option for back pain."

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