The title of this report of my findings sounds like an advertisement for the latest chiropractic marketing program to get new patients. It is actually the experience of Renee Haberl, DC, the president of the Arizona Association of Chiropractic:
The foundation's press release1 was designed to make doctors of chiropractic aware of one of the more exciting studies to be published recently in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. As you may remember, the punchline (conclusion) of this study spoke loudly about the efficacy of chiropractic care for patients suffering with sciatica:
"Sixty percent of patients with sciatica who had failed other medical management benefited from spinal manipulation to the same degree as if they underwent surgical intervention."2
The JMPT study was co-authored by one doctor of chiropractic and two neurosurgeons. Here are the take-home points:
- "[M]ore than 200,000 microdiskectomies are performed annually in the United States, at a direct cost of $5 billion or $25,000 per procedure."
- "[C]onsenting participants were chosen randomly to receive either an average of 21 chiropractic sessions over a year or a single microdiskectomy."
- "If cost is assumed at $100 per chiropractic visit, there is a direct, total savings of $22,900 per manipulation patient. System-wide, this could save $2.75 billion dollars annually."
- "Our research supports spinal manipulation performed by a doctor of chiropractic is a valuable and safe treatment option for those experiencing symptomatic LDH [lumbar disk herniation], failing traditional medical management."
This is what Dr. Haberl was armed with for her discussion with her local medical doctor. The study demonstrated some very important truths about chiropractic care:
- Chiropractic is a "valuable and safe option" for lumbar disk herniation.
- Seeing a patient 21 times is not unreasonable or excessive.
- Even with 21 visits, chiropractic care is extremely inexpensive, particularly when compared to the costs of medical treatment (not to mention the potential risks).
From a scientific standpoint, Dr. Haberl's results from sharing this research with one local medical doctor (five new patients in four days) are not necessarily generalizable. To find out the actual benefits over time with some certainty, we would want thousands of DCs to approach hundreds of medical doctors across the country. These doctors would need to keep track of their new-patient referrals for at least a year.
Once we gathered that data, we could ascertain the value of this research in terms of new patients. We would then know, on average, what every DC could expect if they shared this information with 10-20 MDs in their community. You could participate in such a study - but my guess is that if you did share this research with 10-20 local MDs, you might find yourself too busy to gather the data.
Please review the press release and study that brought Dr. Haberl five new patients at: www.f4cp.org/pr/2011/spinal-manipulation-study.pdf and www.jmptonline.org/article/S0161-4754(10)00211-3/abstract, respectively. Then you too can see just how many new-patient referrals you can enjoy just by sharing this research with your local MDs.
- "Spinal Manipulation Proves Equally Beneficial as Surgery in Sciatica." Press release from the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress, April 10, 2011.
- McMorland G, Suter E, Casha S, du Plessis SJ, Hurlbert RJ. Manipulation or microdiskectomy for sciatica? A prospective randomized clinical study. JMPT, October 2010;33(8):576-84.
Click here for more information about Donald M. Petersen Jr., BS, HCD(hc), FICC(h), Publisher.