ACOEM Recognizes the Value of Chiropractic
for Chronic Spinal Pain
SOURCE: Dynamic Chiropractic 2008 (Sep 23); 26 (20): 1
Tina Beychok, Associate Editor
Pain is the most prevalent health condition among U.S. workers and the most expensive in terms of lost productivity. Recent studies suggest more than six in 10 adults over the age of 30 experience chronic pain. Furthermore, health care expenditures for back and neck pain have risen to more than $80 billion a year in the U.S. – a dramatic increase over the past eight years, without evidence of improved health. In addition to the costs of lost productivity, an estimated $64 billion per year is lost due to workers continuing to work, even though pain reduces their job performance. This phenomenon is called “presenteeism.”
Unfortunately, workers’ comp can be a quagmire of contradictory and insufficient rules and regulations as to what treatments are and aren’t covered. The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) has been in the process of revising its Occupational Medicine Practice Guidelines, which have not always taken a positive view of chiropractic manipulation. In fact, the second edition of the guidelines, released in 2005, was heavily criticized by some in the chiropractic community. 
ACOEM’s latest chronic pain guidelines (a chapter of the overall guidelines) may represent a step in the right direction in terms of recognizing the value of chiropractic care. The guidelines actually recommend manipulation for chronic, persistent low back or neck pain and cervicogenic headache.  This is significant because in the past, the guidelines failed to recommend manipulation, even when other treatment strategies (medication, etc.) were rated as less effective.