Chiropractic and recurrence of work-related low back pain

Researchers at the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety, in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, compared the occurrence of repeated disability in patients treated by different healthcare providers.

First, the details.

  • 894 patients were followed for 1 year using workers’ compensation claims data.
  • Healthcare providers were defined for the initial episode of disability and subsequent episode of health maintenance care.
  • The findings were adjusted for the effects of demographics and severity.

And, the results.

  • Recurrence of disability was higher for physical therapist or physician care than for chiropractic care.
  • Recurrence of disability in patients treated with chiropractic care was similar to that in patients who were not treated after their return to work.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “In work-related nonspecific low back pain, the use of health maintenance care provided by physical therapist or physician services was associated with a higher disability recurrence than in chiropractic services or no treatment.”

And workers treated by chiropractors are more satisfied with their healthcare than those treated by MDs.

Several years ago, researchers at Colorado State University, in Ft. Collins, reported, “The total amount paid by the insurance company was 1.7 times higher for patients treated by doctors of chiropractic compared with those treated by medical doctors.”

Now, somebody should calculate the cost savings associated with fewer repeat episodes of work-related low back pain.

6/11/11 21:32 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.