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Pilot study finds chiropractic care, physical therapy may reduce costs

Home/News/Pilot study finds chiropractic care, physical therapy may reduce costs

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Individuals with musculoskeletal disorders who received chiropractic care or physical therapy had lower health care costs and were less likely to have surgery than employees who did not receive those services, according to a recent report.

The findings come from a one-year pilot program designed by Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield to measure patient quality of care. Researchers concluded that significant clinical outcomes and health care cost reductions were attributable to the use of chiropractic and other physical medicine services. Overall, 89 percent of all individuals receiving physical medicine services reported improvement of at least 30 percent within 30 days.

The 2008 pilot — an ongoing quality improvement program for Iowa and South Dakota physical medicine providers — analyzed data on care provided by 238 chiropractors, physical therapists and occupational therapists to 5,500 Wellmark members with MSDs. Wellmark utilized Triad Healthcare to help administer the program and collaborated with the company to collect data and measure outcomes. Triad also analyzed the chiropractic and physical therapy utilization data for the pilot and has continued to administer the program in 2009.

Supporters of chiropractic treatment praised the findings, saying that the cost-effectiveness of the method has been documented in several studies.

Glenn Manceaux, president of the American Chiropractic Association, pointed to a study published in a 2005 issue of the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics that found chiropractic and medical care have comparable costs for treating chronic low-back pain, with chiropractic care producing significantly better outcomes. In addition, a study published in a 2003 edition of Spine medical journal found that manual manipulation provides better short-term relief of chronic spinal pain than a variety of medications, he said.

“Especially during the health care reform debate, it’s important that chiropractic and other conservative care methods are taken into serious consideration as a cost-effective alternative to the utilization of expensive surgery and hospital-based care,” he said.

By |September 10, 2009|News|3 Comments

About the Author:

Dr Wiens created the very first chiropractic information page on the web in Nov 1994. In 1995 he joined as chief designer. He lives in Canada.


  1. Matthew Loop DC September 10, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    Very nice… I just posted a link to this post via Twitter so chiropractors and the public could view. There was a study in Illinois several years ago that noted very similar findings. I hear the scope of chiros there is more liberal and the reimbursement is much better as a result of the cost effectiveness concluded in the study.

    If Washington is really serious about reform, studies like this will carry a great deal of weight.

  2. Anthony J. Davis, D.C. September 11, 2009 at 10:07 am

    I practice in Iowa and in the same issue of the provider newsletter where they announced these findings they also reduced the allowed visit number for DCs and PTs per year before a “medical necessity” review.

    It blows my mind.

  3. karl October 29, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    I will get much disagreement about this but I do feel this is the newer model “good results” aren’t always good enough. To me this permeates in many businesses. the uncontrollable appetite of wall street/shareholders has become unrealistic. I’m not sure this is entirely true but those that are in the business of trying to fix something that can’t be fixed and/or will require a lot of expensive intervention are not champs of chiropractic. As most of us know the health care model in this country needs more change. Wellness should be championed by the chirpractic profession……

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