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Non-pharmacologic Therapy and Chiropractic

This section was compiled by Frank M. Painter, D.C.
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Jump to: Recent Studies Reference Materials Search NON-PHARMACOLOGIC  

Overcoming Overuse for Musculoskeletal Conditions  


Patient Satisfaction Pediatric Section Safety of Chiropractic

Exercise + Chiropractic Chiropractic Rehab Integrated Care

Headache Page Care For Veterans Disc Herniation

Chronic Neck Pain Low Back Pain Whiplash Section

Conditions That Respond Alternative Medicine Approaches to Disease


Recent Studies

Racial and Ethnic Variation in Complementary
and Integrative Health Therapy Use
Among US Veterans

JAMA Netw Open 2023 (Jun 1); 6 (6): e2318020 ~ FULL TEXT

This large-scale, cross-sectional study found racial and ethnic differences in use of 4 of 5 CIH therapies among VA health care system users when not considering their medical facility location. Given those differences mostly disappeared once medical facilities were accounted for, the results demonstrated the importance of considering facilities and residential locations when examining racial differences in CIH therapy use. Medical facilities could be a proxy for the racial and ethnic composition of their patients, CIH therapy availability, regional patient or clinician attitudes, or therapy availability.

Colic and Sleep Outcomes of Nonpharmacological
Intervention in Infants with Infantile Colic:
Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Rev Assoc Med Bras 2023 (May 19); 69 (5): e20230071 ~ FULL TEXT

According to the meta-analysis findings, it was determined that the risk of bias was low in the studies included and that nonpharmacological chiropractic, craniosacral, and acupuncture treatments applied to infantile colic infants in the three included studies reduced crying time and intensity and increased sleep duration.

Chiropractors in Interprofessional Practice Settings:
A Narrative Review Exploring Context,
Outcomes, Barriers and Facilitators

Chiropractic & Manual Therapies 2022 (Dec 16); 30: 56 ~ FULL TEXT

Data suggests that incorporating chiropractors into community health and sports medicine interprofessional practice interventions is achievable and appears to impact collaborative practice positively. For older adults with low back pain, quality of life and care-related satisfaction are potential relevant outcomes for the evaluation of interprofessional practice interventions. There is currently very limited evidence from which to judge the value of interprofessional practice interventions, as available literature appears to focus mainly on interprofessional collaboration. Studies conducted specifically to evaluate interprofessional practice solutions and addressing specific health care issues or practice domains are urgently required.

Association Between Chiropractic Spinal Manipulative
Therapy and Benzodiazepine Prescription in
Patients with Radicular Low Back Pain:
A Retrospective Cohort Study Using
Real-world Data From the USA

BMJ Open 2022 (Jun 13); 12 (6): e058769 ~ FULL TEXT

These findings suggest that receiving chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy (CSMT) for newly diagnosed radicular low back pain (rLBP) is associated with reduced odds of receiving a benzodiazepine prescription during follow-up. These results provide real-world evidence of practice guideline-concordance among patients entering this care pathway. Benzodiazepine prescription for rLBP should be further examined in a randomised trial including patients receiving chiropractic or usual medical care, to reduce residual confounding.

Chiropractic Clinical Outcomes Among Older
Adult Male Veterans With Chronic Lower
Back Pain: A Retrospective Review of
Quality-Assurance Data

J Chiropractic Medicine 2022 (Jun); 21 (2): 77–82 ~ FULL TEXT

This retrospective review revealed clinically and statistically significant improvement in numeric rating scale (NRS) and Back Bournemouth Questionnaire (BBQ) scores for this sample of older male U.S. veterans treated with chiropractic management for chronic low back pain.

Associations Between Early Chiropractic Care and
Physical Therapy on Subsequent Opioid Use Among
Persons With Low Back Pain in Arkansas

J Chiropractic Medicine 2022 (Jun); 21 (2): 67–76

In this study we found that receipt of chiropractic care, though not PT, may have disrupted the need for opioids and, in particular, long-term opioid use (LTOU) in newly diagnosed LBP. These authors are to be praised for publishing this paper. When you look at their pedigrees, it's reasonable to imagine that they may have been looking to see that physical therapy was associated with reduced opioid use. Numerous studies have shown that chiropractic already has a well-established track record for low- to no-opioid use, so they would be the perfect comparison group for a study like this. We all know that third parties are looking for safe and cost-effective alternatives to “usual care”. In the past, a study favorable to chiropractic care, particularly one that used physical therapy as a comparison group, would never have been published, because of the long-standing medical bias against chiropractic care. So, let's tip our hats to this group of researchers for their hard work and honesty!

Chiropractic Care of a Female Veteran After
Cervical Total Disk Replacement:
A Case Report

J Chiropractic Medicine 2022 (Mar); 21 (1): 60–65 ~ FULL TEXT

This is the first instance, to our knowledge, of a published case of chiropractic manipulation after CTDR. Before this case report, there was no available literature to guide chiropractic care after CTDR. This will hopefully serve as a call for future research to guide clinicians in the management of patients after CTDR. Evidence-based guidelines for chiropractic care after CTDR would be of value for chiropractors and other health care practitioners in guiding optimal patient care. This case report will hopefully stimulate discussion and future efforts to create a guideline for postsurgical chiropractic care in CTDR.

The optimal treatment dosage for chiropractic treatment depends on the severity, chronicity, and demographic characteristics of the patient. [13] Whalen et al published a chiropractic best practice recommending treatment of acute neck pain 3 times per week for 4 weeks, and chronic neck pain 2 times per month for several months; additionally, chronic neck pain with radiculopathy may take several months to treat, with an initial trial of care consisting of treatments 3 times per week for 4 weeks and then tapering in frequency as the patient improves. [13] In attempting to be consistent with guidelines recommended by the VA Chiropractic Field Advisory Committee, the initial trial of care consisted of 6 visits, which was stretched over 3 weeks. [18] After the initial 6–visit trial, care was continued twice a week for several weeks before treatment frequency was tapered as the patient improved.

Care Outcomes for Chiropractic Outpatient
Veterans (COCOV): A Single-arm, Pragmatic,
Pilot Trial of Multimodal Chiropractic Care
for U.S. Veterans with Chronic Low Back Pain

Pilot and Feasibility Studies 2022 (Mar 7); 8 (1): 54 ~ FULL TEXT

Prospective clinical trials using innovative and rigorous research methods to evaluate the effectiveness of chiropractic care for pain management in veterans experiencing LBP-related disability with comorbid mental health conditions are warranted. We demonstrated the feasibility of participant recruitment, retention, and electronic data collection for a pragmatic clinical trial of chiropractic care in a VA environment. Through careful examination of time to complete measures and choosing the most relevant measures without overlap, we reduced the number of outcome measures by half for the full-scale trial. Using the pilot data and lessons learned, we modified and refined a protocol for a full-scale, multisite, pragmatic, National Institutes of Health-funded randomized trial of multimodal chiropractic care for veterans with chronic LBP that began recruitment in February 2021.

Health-related Quality of Life Among United States
Service Members with Low Back Pain Receiving
Usual Care plus Chiropractic Care plus Usual Care
vs Usual Care Alone: Secondary Outcomes of a
Pragmatic Clinical Trial

Pain Medicine 2022 (Jan 21); pnac009 [EPUB] ~ FULL TEXT

Pre-planned secondary outcomes from this rigorous, pragmatic RCT demonstrate that chiropractic care can positively impact HRQOL beyond pain and pain-related disability. This along with prior research suggests positive effects of chiropractic care on patient-reported outcomes up to 3 months. Further, PROMIS® measures of pain and pain-related disability (5 items) performed similarly to the 24-item RMDQ in the evaluation of outcomes for patients under chiropractic care. The use of PROMIS® measures encompassing physical, mental, and social health provided a richer, more holistic picture of response to chiropractic care, with less time commitment for trial participants demonstrating benefit for outcomes assessment in research and clinical practice.

Non-operative Treatment for Lumbar Spinal Stenosis with
Neurogenic Claudication: An Updated Systematic Review

BMJ Open 2022 (Jan 19); 12 (1): e057724 ~ FULL TEXT

Lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) causing neurogenic claudication (NC) is increasingly common with an aging population and can be associated with significant symptoms and functional limitations. We developed this guideline to present the evidence and provide clinical recommendations on nonsurgical management of patients with LSS causing NC. Using the GRADE approach, a multidisciplinary guidelines panel based recommendations on evidence from a systematic review of randomized controlled trials and systematic reviews published through June 2019, or expert consensus. The literature monitored up to October 2020. This guideline, on the basis of a systematic review of the evidence on the nonsurgical management of lumbar spine stenosis, provides recommendations developed by a multidisciplinary expert panel. Safe and effective non-surgical management of lumbar spine stenosis should be on the basis of a plan of care tailored to the individual and the type of treatment involved, and multimodal care is recommended in most situations.

Qualitative Study with Veteran Stakeholders From
a Pilot Trial of Multimodal Chiropractic Care

Pilot Feasibility Stud 2022 (Jan 14); 8 (1): 6 ~ FULL TEXT

This qualitative study highlighted veteran stakeholders’ perceptions of the feasibility and acceptability of VA-based chiropractic services for the treatment of chronic LBP. Veterans offered important suggestions for conducting a full-scale, pragmatic randomized controlled trial of multimodal chiropractic care in this clinical setting. Key aspects of clinical trial planning addressed through these interviews included defining treatment scheduling protocols, confirming usefulness of multiple recruitment strategies, refining and streamlining outcome measures, enhancing online data collection procedures, and developing multiple means for communication with participants. Veterans also offered suggestions, such as chiropractic staffing considerations, more clinic-like environments, enhanced patient education, including about the availability of chiropractic services in VA, and patient-centered treatment visits which may be useful in administrative decisions about VA-based chiropractic care.

Increased Utilization of Spinal Manipulation by
Chiropractors to Tackle the Opioid Epidemic

Medical Care 2021 (Dec 1); 59 (12): 1039–1041 ~ FULL TEXT

Increased utilization of spinal manipulation performed by chiropractors may be one approach to dampening the opioid epidemic through practices that minimize the use of those drugs for conditions like low back pain where opioid prescribing remains high. [1] Opioids have been found to be ineffective for low back pain while causing multiple side effects such as addiction, drug diversion, and overdose. [2] In response to the opioid epidemic, over half of the states have made legislative changes limiting the quantity and duration of opioid prescriptions for acute pain. [3] In addition, the American College of Physicians has recommended spinal manipulation as part of the nonpharmacological firstline treatment for low back pain since 2017. [4] Efforts such as these have been impactful.

Chiropractic Services and Diagnoses for Low Back
Pain in 3 U.S. Department of Defense Military
Treatment Facilities: A Secondary Analysis of
a Pragmatic Clinical Trial
J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2021 (Nov/Dec); 44 (9): 690–698 ~ FULL TEXT

For the sample in this study, doctors of chiropractic within 3 military treatment facilities diagnosed, managed, and provided clinical evaluations for a range of LBP conditions. Although spinal manipulation was the most commonly used modality, chiropractic care included a multimodal approach, comprising of both active and passive interventions a majority of the time.
This is a descriptive secondary analysis of the pragmatic clinical trial:
Effect of Usual Medical Care Plus Chiropractic Care vs Usual
Medical Care Alone on Pain and Disability Among US Service
Members With Low Back Pain. A Comparative
Effectiveness Clinical Trial
  (JAMA Network Open. 2018) NCT01692275

Spinal Manipulative Therapy for Acute Neck Pain:
A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of
Randomised Controlled Trials

J Clinical Medicine 2021 (Oct 28); 10 (21): 5011~ FULL TEXT

To our knowledge, this is the first systematic review on the effectiveness of SMT treating acute neck pain. The main conclusion is that SMT alone or in combination with another modality is likely to be effective in the treatment of acute neck pain, and the RCTs reported few, mild and transient AEs. The methodological quality of manual therapy RCTs is frequently being criticised for being too low. [36] However, manual therapy studies cannot reach what is considered the gold standard in pharmacological RCTs, because the manual therapist cannot be blinded.

An Assessment of Nonoperative Management Strategies in a
Herniated Lumbar Disc Population: Successes Versus Failure

Global Spine J 2021 (Sep); 11 (7): 1054–1063 ~ FULL TEXT

Nonoperative treatments included nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), opioid medications, muscle relaxants, lumbar epidural steroid injections (LESIs), physical therapy and occupational therapy sessions (PT/OT), and chiropractor treatments. Regarding prescription opioids, only oxycodone hydrochloride, hydrocodone/acetaminophen, and oxycodone/acetaminophen, the most commonly utilized formulations (prescribed in >80% of patients) were queried. Emergency department (ED) visits for which a lumbar disc herniation was recorded as the primary complaint were also collected. All imaging studies involving the lumbar spine including X-rays, computed tomography scans, and magnetic resonance imaging studies were captured. Generic drug codes and CPT codes were used to query medication and procedures use, respectively (Appendix B).

What Would it Take to Put a Chiropractor in
Khakis? Effecting Chiropractors as Commissioned
Officers in the U.S. Military - A Historical Brief

Military Medicine 2021 (Jul 31); usab324 ~ FULL TEXT

Chiropractic physicians serving within military medicine and veteran health care facilities routinely manage common and complex neurological and musculoskeletal injuries sustained by combat and non-combat servicemen and women. Patient satisfaction with chiropractic services within both the active duty and veteran population is high and routinely sought after. Chiropractic inclusion in the medical corps or medical service corps within the DoD is long overdue.

Initial Choice of Spinal Manipulation Reduces
Escalation of Care for Chronic Low Back Pain
Among Older Medicare Beneficiaries

Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 2021 (May 11) [EPUB] ~ FULL TEXT

SMT was associated with lower rates of escalation of care as compared to Opioid Analgesic Therapy (OAT).   Among older Medicare beneficiaries who initiated long-term care for cLBP with opioid analgesic therapy, the adjusted rate of escalated care encounters was significantly higher as compared to those who initiated care with spinal manipulative therapy. Level of Evidence: 3.

Back and Neck Pain: In Support of Routine
Delivery of Non-pharmacologic Treatments
as a way to Improve Individual and
Population Health

Translational Research 2021 (Apr 24); S1931-5244 (21) 00088-8~ FULL TEXT

Chronic back and neck pain are highly prevalent conditions that are among the largest drivers of physical disability and cost in the world. Recent clinical practice guidelines recommend use of non-pharmacologic treatments to decrease pain and improve physical function for individuals with back and neck pain. However, delivery of these treatments remains a challenge because common care delivery models for back and neck pain incentivize treatments that are not in the best interests of patients, the overall health system, or society. This narrative review focuses on the need to increase use of non-pharmacologic treatment as part of routine care for back and neck pain.

"Like Peanut Butter and Jelly": A Qualitative Study
of Chiropractic Care and Home Exercise Among
Older Adults with Spinal Disability

BMC Geriatrics 2021 (Apr 23); 21 (1): 271

Older adults valued non-pharmacological treatment options that aided them in controlling spine-related symptoms, while empowering them to maintain clinical benefit gained after a course of chiropractic spinal manipulation and exercise. The complimentary nature of provider-delivered and active care modalities may be an important consideration when developing care plans. This study underscores the importance of understanding participants' values and experiences when interpreting study results and applying them to practice.

Non-Surgical Interventions for Lumbar Spinal
Stenosis Leading To Neurogenic Claudication:
A Clinical Practice Guideline

J Pain 2021 (Apr 1); S1526-5900(21)00188-7

Lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) causing neurogenic claudication (NC) is increasingly common with an aging population and can be associated with significant symptoms and functional limitations. We developed this guideline to present the evidence and provide clinical recommendations on nonsurgical management of patients with LSS causing NC. Using the GRADE approach, a multidisciplinary guidelines panel based recommendations on evidence from a systematic review of randomized controlled trials and systematic reviews published through June 2019, or expert consensus. The literature monitored up to October 2020. Clinical outcomes evaluated included pain, disability, quality of life, and walking capacity. The target audience for this guideline includes all clinicians, and the target patient population includes adults with LSS (congenital and/or acquired, lateral recess or central canal, with or without low back pain, with or without spondylolisthesis) causing NC.

When Boundaries Blur - Exploring Healthcare
Providers' Views of Chiropractic Inter-
professional Care and the Canadian
Forces Health Services

J Can Chiropr Assoc 2021 (Apr); 65 (1): 14–31 ~ FULL TEXT

Our study provides the first qualitative analysis of barriers and opportunities for the collaboration of chiropractic within the unique CFHS environment. This manuscript, exploring IPC relative to MSK conditions in the CFHS, elucidated barriers and opportunities to potentially inform a series of next steps involving key stakeholders. Further, findings reinforce the importance of bringing CAF members’ voices to this important work.

Based upon our qualitative analysis, the research team posits the following recommendations gleaned from the over-arching experiences, perceptions, meanings and interpretations shared by key informants, together with reflexivity of the researchers, and an in-depth description and interpretation of the research problem. Our recommendations are:

Doctors of Chiropractic Working with or within
Integrated Healthcare Delivery Systems:
A Scoping Review Protocol

BMJ Open 2021 (Jan 25); 11 (1): e043754 ~ FULL TEXT

Musculoskeletal conditions, including back and neck pain, are the leading causes of disability worldwide. [1] In the USA, the use of pharmacological treatments, such as opioids and invasive procedures, such as steroid injections and surgery, for low back pain, increased from 1997 to 2010. [2] During the same time period disability and costs from low back pain also increased. [2, 3] In contrast to these patterns of care for spinal disorders, clinical practice guidelines emphasise the use of non-pharmacological approaches before the use of over the counter medications, prescribed medications or invasive procedures. [4–7] Yet patients who seek care in integrated healthcare delivery systems, at specific medical settings such as primary care clinics in hospitals or community health centres, still frequently receive prescribed medications as first line care. [8, 9] Limited familiarity with the efficacy and role of non-pharmacological treatments, few opportunities to practise in the same location as non-pharmacological providers, and inadequate channels of communication between these providers have been identified as important clinician-level barriers that prevent referrals to non-pharmacological treatments. [10–12] Increasing collaboration between primary care providers and providers of non-pharmacological treatment will improve access to non-pharmacological treatments and may improve outcomes.

Veteran Response to Dosage in Chiropractic
Therapy (VERDICT): Study Protocol of a
Pragmatic Randomized Trial for Chronic
Low Back Pain

Pain Medicine 2020 (Dec 12); 21 (Suppl 2): S37–S44 ~ FULL TEXT

Lack of information on optimal dosing is a significant barrier to planning and operationalizing the continued implementation of VA chiropractic services. Currently, few published data are available to guide the development of DC staffing models that would provide optimal access to care for veterans with cLBP. The extended-care approach of CCPM is not currently used in the VA, in part because of the lack of studies conducted in the United States demonstrating its effectiveness. Accurate information on the effectiveness of different dosing regimens of chiropractic care could greatly assist health systems, including the VA, in modeling the number of DCs that will best meet the needs of patients with cLBP.

Chiropractic in the United States Military
Health System: A 25th-Anniversary
Celebration of the Early Years

J Chiropractic Humanities 2020 (Dec);   27:   37-58~ FULL TEXT

This is the first article to chronicle the history of chiropractic in the MHS, and highlights some of the important events in the early years of chiropractors working within the MHS. Because of the efforts of the early MHS chiropractors to pave the way for a permanent chiropractic benefit for the deserving members of the United States uniformed services, chiropractic care is now offered at more than 60 United States military facilities.

Best Practices for Chiropractic Management
of Patients with Chronic Musculoskeletal
Pain: A Clinical Practice Guideline

J Altern Complement Med 2020 (Oct); 26 (10): 884–901 ~ FULL TEXT

The Delphi process was conducted January-February 2020. The 62-member Delphi panel reached consensus on chiropractic management of five common chronic MSK pain conditions: low-back pain (LBP), neck pain, tension headache, osteoarthritis (knee and hip), and fibromyalgia. Recommendations were made for nonpharmacological treatments, including acupuncture, spinal manipulation/mobilization, and other manual therapy; modalities such as low-level laser and interferential current; exercise, including yoga; mind-body interventions, including mindfulness meditation and cognitive behavior therapy; and lifestyle modifications such as diet and tobacco cessation. Recommendations covered many aspects of the clinical encounter, from informed consent through diagnosis, assessment, treatment planning and implementation, and concurrent management and referral. Appropriate referral and comanagement were emphasized.

Integrating a Multidisciplinary Pain Team and
Chiropractic Care in a Community Health Center:
An Observational Study of Managing
Chronic Spinal Pain

J Primary Care & Community Health 2020 (Sep 10) ~ FULL TEXT

This study analyzed these two strategies and showed that in the short term, chiropractic care is a more cost-effective alternative compared to PT for the treatment of acute low back pain. Chiropractic resulted in a lower cost ($48.56) and higher DALY (0.0043) than the PT over a one-month treatment period and five months follow-up. However, the marginal cost-effectiveness of chiropractic over PT suggests that both treatments were quite similar. Such findings are in line with the earlier studies, which found that the effectiveness and total costs of chiropractic and PT as primary treatments were similar to each other right after treatment and after 6 months follow-up. [3, 22, 32]

Complementary, Integrative, and Nondrug Therapy
Use for Pain Among US Military Veterans on
Long-term Opioids

Medical Care 2020 (Sep); 58 Supp l 2 9S: S116–S124 ~ FULL TEXT

In conclusion, our study found that US VA patients on long-term opioid therapy (LTOT) for chronic pain commonly use nondrug therapies to manage pain, that observed nondrug therapy use classes reflect clinically relevant functional groups, and that patient characteristics are associated with use of different nondrug therapies. Further exploration of factors affecting nondrug therapy access and use for specific subpopulations, such as use of exercise/movement therapy by people with high pain interference, may enable implementation of nondrug and complementary and integrative health (CIH) therapy for chronic pain and expand safe, effective pain treatment options for people prescribed LTOT.

The Lancet Series Call to Action to Reduce Low
Value Care for Low Back Pain: An Update

Pain. 2020 (Sep); 161 (1): S57–S64 ~ FULL TEXT

The 2018 Lancet Low Back Pain Series, comprising 3 papers written by 31 authors from disparate disciplines and 12 different countries, raised unprecedented awareness of the rising global burden of low back pain partly attributable to poor quality health care. [12, 30, 44] Many people with low back pain get the wrong care, causing harm to millions across the world and wasting valuable health care resources. Based upon an up-to-date, evidence-based synthesis, the series described current guideline recommended care of low back pain, and new strategies that show promise, but require further testing, to reduce low value care. We also proposed a series of actions needed to reverse the alarming global rise in low back pain disability. A better understanding of low back pain in different cultures and changes to the way care for low back pain is delivered and the way clinicians are reimbursed are key to reversing this problem.

Association of Initial Provider Type on Opioid
Fills for Individuals With Neck Pain

Archives of Phys Med and Rehabilitation 2020 (Aug); 101 (8): 1407–1413 ~ FULL TEXT

Compared to patients with neck pain who saw a primary health care provider, patients with neck pain who initially saw a conservative therapist were 72%–91% less likely to fill an opioid prescription in the first 30 days, and between 41%–87% less likely to continue filling prescriptions for 1 year. People with neck pain who initially saw emergency medicine physicians had the highest odds of opioid use during the first 30 days (OR, 3.58; 95% CI, 3.47–3.69; P<.001).

Noninvasive Nonpharmacological Treatment for
Chronic Pain: A Systematic Review Update

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality 2020 (Apr)~ FULL TEXT

Psychological therapies were associated with small improvements compared with usual care or an attention control for both function and pain at short-term, intermediate-term, and long-term followup (SOE: moderate). Function improved over short and/or intermediate term for exercise, low-level laser therapy, spinal manipulation, massage, yoga, acupuncture, and multidisciplinary rehabilitation (SOE moderate at short term for exercise, massage, and yoga; low for all others). Improvements in pain at short term were seen for massage, mindfulness-based stress reduction, acupuncture, and multidisciplinary rehabilitation (SOE: moderate), and exercise, low-level laser therapy, and yoga (SOE: low). At intermediate term, spinal manipulation, yoga, multidisciplinary rehabilitation (SOE: moderate) and exercise and mindfulness-based stress reduction (SOE: low) were associated with improved pain. Compared with exercise, multidisciplinary rehabilitation improved both function and pain at short and intermediate terms (small effects, SOE: moderate.)

Nonpharmacological Treatment of Army Service
Members with Chronic Pain Is Associated with
Fewer Adverse Outcomes After Transition to
the Veterans Health Administration

J General Internal Medicine 2020 (Mar); 35 (3): 775–783 ~ FULL TEXT

Our results suggest that nonpharmacological treatments (NPT) provided to active duty service members with chronic pain may reduce their odds of longterm adverse outcomes. Given known associations of these adverse outcomes with morbidity and mortality, providing NPT to service members with chronic pain could potentially save lives. Our results provide further support for the role of NPT as a risk mitigation strategy when long-term opioid therapy is initiated, which is only briefly mentioned in the VA/DoD Clinical Practice Guideline for Opioid Therapy for Chronic Pain . [16] Given that our findings may have been drivenby some NPT modalities more than others, the dose in which these modalities were received, or unmeasured confounding, more research is needed to clarify these effects. As confounders may change during NPT (e.g., daily dose of opioids), it may be important to include time-varying covariates in follow-up research.

Overcoming Overuse for Musculoskeletal Conditions
A Unique Series of Articles

Our Physical Therapy Friends have crafted this 5-part series to review how they might align themselves with a more EBM-based approach to care. Part 4 + 5 make some innovative suggestions that you may find interesting.

Overcoming Overuse: Improving Musculoskeletal Health Care
J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2020 (Mar); 50 (3): 113–115 ~ FULL TEXT

This is the first article in a series on "Overcoming Overuse" in musculoskeletal health care. Overuse is the use of services that are unlikely to improve patient outcomes, result in more harm than benefit, and would not be desired by an informed patient. The Overcoming Overuse series explores the myriad ways diagnostic tests and treatments are overused in musculoskeletal health care, and proposes ways to ensure patients receive appropriate care. We focus on strategies to promote guideline-concordant care in rehabilitation practice and strategies to overcome overuse.

Overcoming Overuse Part 2: Defining and Quantifying
Health Care Overuse for Musculoskeletal Conditions

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2020 (Nov); 50 (11): 588-591 ~ FULL TEXT

In this series on "Overcoming Overuse," we explore the issue of health care overuse and how it may be identified in musculoskeletal physical therapy. In part 2, we frame health care overuse as a continuum from overuse to appropriate care, and consider how to measure overuse. We describe how overuse can be defined within a framework of care that is ineffective, inefficient, and misaligned, depending on the perspective of the person delivering or receiving care-the clinician, society, or patient. To ensure that musculoskeletal health care is of high value and sustainable, we encourage physical therapists to reflect on their practice.

Overcoming Overuse Part 3: Mapping the Drivers
of Overuse in Musculoskeletal Health Care

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2020 (Dec); 50 (12): 657-660 ~ FULL TEXT

Overcoming overuse in musculoskeletal health care requires an understanding of its drivers. In this, the third article in a series on "Overcoming Overuse" of musculoskeletal health care, we consider the drivers of overuse under 4 domains: (1) the culture of health care consumption, (2) patient factors and experiences, (3) clinician factors and experiences, and (4) practice environment. These domains are interrelated, interact, and influence the clinician-patient interaction. We map drivers to potential solutions to overcome overuse.

Overcoming Overuse Part 4: Small Business Survival
J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2021 (Jan); 51 (1): 1–4 ~ FULL TEXT

The challenge of overuse raises important questions for those in the business of musculoskeletal health care. What is the right number of physical therapy visits for a given condition? Can a practice provide "less" but still be profitable? In this, the editorial on overcoming overuse of musculoskeletal health care, we consider the economic drivers of overuse in the private sector. We propose actions that could support small business leaders to overcome overuse and build profitable, high-quality services.

Overcoming Overuse Part 5:
Is Shared Decision Making Our Excalibur?

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2021 (Feb); 51 (2): 53-56 ~ FULL TEXT

Shared decision making is recommended as a strategy to help patients identify what matters most to them and make informed decisions about musculoskeletal care. In part 5 of the Overcoming Overuse series, we look at the evidence supporting shared decision making as a strategy to help curb overuse. Using shared decision making in clinical consultations may help to reduce the overuse of options that are not beneficial and to increase use of care supported by evidence. Shared decision making could support clinicians in promoting uptake of active rehabilitation options with a favorable balance of benefits to harms. Shared decision making facilitates conversations about unnecessary tests or treatments and could be a key strategy for overcoming overuse.

Association Between Chiropractic Use and Opioid
Receipt Among Patients with Spinal Pain: A
Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Pain Medicine 2020 (Feb 1); 21 (2): e139–e145 ~ FULL TEXT

This systematic review demonstrated an inverse association between chiropractic use and opioid receipt among patients with spinal pain. Overall, chiropractic users had a 64% lower odds of receiving an opioid prescription than nonusers. Further research is warranted to assess this association and the implications it may have for case management strategies to decrease opioid use.

The Features and Burden of Headaches Within
a Chiropractic Clinical Population:
A Cross-sectional Analysis

Complementary Therapies in Medicine 2020 (Jan); 48: 102276 ~ FULL TEXT

One in four participants (n = 57; 25.4%) experienced chronic headaches and 42.0% (n = 88) experienced severe headache pain. In terms of headache features, 20.5% (n = 46) and 16.5% (n = 37) of participants had discrete features of migraine and tension-type headache, respectively, while 33.0% (n = 74) had features of more than one headache type. 'Severe' levels of headache impact were most often reported in those with features of mixed headache (n = 47; 65.3%) and migraine (n = 29; 61.7%). Patients who were satisfied or very satisfied with headache management by a chiropractor were those who were seeking help with headache-related stress or to be more in control of their headaches. Many with headache who consult chiropractors have features of recurrent headaches and experience increased levels of headache disability. These findings may be important to other headache-related healthcare providers and policymakers in their endeavours to provide coordinated, safe and effective care for those with headaches.

Best-Practice Recommendations for Chiropractic
Management of Patients With Neck Pain

J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2019 (Nov); 42 (9): 635–650 ~ FULL TEXT

A set of best-practice recommendations for chiropractic management of patients with neck pain based on the best available evidence reached a high level of consensus by a large group of experienced chiropractors. The recommendations indicate that manipulation and mobilization as part of a multimodal approach are front-line approaches to patients with uncomplicated neck pain.

Development of a Clinical Decision Aid for
Chiropractic Management of Common Conditions
Causing Low Back Pain in Veterans:
Results of a Consensus Process

J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2019 (Nov);   42 (9):   677–693   ~ FULL TEXT

This article offers an evidence-based clinical decision aid for multimodal chiropractic care for veterans with LBP. A 4ñpage document outlines the management process, evidence-based treatments for specific conditions, intervention descriptions, and definitions for 6 essential components of chiropractic care. The decision aid was validated through a web-based consensus process including DCs practicing in VA health care facilities.

Are Nonpharmacologic Interventions for Chronic
Low Back Pain More Cost Effective Than Usual
Care? Proof of Concept Results from
a Markov Model

Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 2019 (Oct 15); 44 (20): 1456–1464 ~ FULL TEXT

Markov modeling of nonpharmacologic interventions for CLBP is feasible and provides useful information about the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of these interventions relative to usual care. According to model assumptions these interventions all improve health-related quality of life (QALYs) over usual care, and most, significantly so. In addition, most of these interventions appear cost-effective (and even cost saving) from the payer and societal perspectives, and many of the interventions have their largest impacts on those with high-impact chronic pain. Modeling leverages the investment made in existing trials to provide more useful information than is available from the published studies. We recommend this modeling effort be expanded to include data from all existing studies of nonpharmacologic interventions for chronic low back pain.

Prevalence and Characteristics of Chronic Spinal
Pain Patients with Different Hopes (Treatment
Goals) for Ongoing Chiropractic Care

J Alternative and Complementary Medicine 2019 (Oct 1); 25 (10): 1015–1025 ~ FULL TEXT

Although much of health policy is based on a curative model, less than a third of a large sample of patients with CLBP and CNP under ongoing chiropractic care have a stated hope or goal of cure—their pain going away permanently. Instead, most patients have goals related to the ongoing successful management of their chronic spinal pain. How can this goal of provider-based pain management be viably supported and sustained? Policy makers need more information about how patients are using ongoing providerbased care to develop policies regarding this care. This study provides some of this information.

Observational Retrospective Study of the
Association of Initial Healthcare Provider
for New-onset Low Back Pain with Early and
Long-term Opioid Use

BMJ Open. 2019 (Sep 20); 9 (9): e028633 ~ FULL TEXT

Initial visits to chiropractors or physical therapists is associated with substantially decreased early and long-term use of opioids. Incentivising use of conservative therapists may be a strategy to reduce risks of early and long-term opioid use.

Conservative Spine Care Pathway Implementation
Is Associated with Reduced Health Care
Expenditures in a Controlled, Before-
after Observational Study

J General Internal Medicine 2019 (Aug); 34 (8): 1381-1382 ~ FULL TEXT

In this retrospective, controlled, before-after study, we found that implementation of a conservative spine pain treatment pathway was associated with significant reductions in per-member-per-month (PMPM) healthcare expenditures for spine pain care; most cost savings were attributable to reduction in spine surgery costs. Our Poisson model found relatively reduced opioid utilization and relatively increased manual care costs, both anticipated by-products of guideline implementation. [4] While our findings are preliminary, in an era of increasing healthcare costs and use of complex and expensive spine surgery techniques they show promise for meaningful care cost reduction and value enhancement when providers conservatively manage spine pain. Importantly, our analysis underscores the value of using control groups, formal analytics, and academic partnerships to understand the impact of quality improvement and clinical effectiveness projects, measures that have been recommended to improve the robustness of quality improvement efforts. [5]

Analysis of State Insurance Coverage for
Nonpharmacologic Treatment of Low Back
Pain as Recommended by the American
College of Physicians Guidelines

Glob Adv Health Med 2019 (Jul 29); 8: 2164956119855629

Analysis of the 2017 EHB benchmark plans that represent the minimum benefits required in all states demonstrated that, other than manipulation, there was significant lack of coverage for nonpharmacological treatments recommended by the ACP guidelines for chronic LBP. Although state EHB coverage policies should reflect current evidence, our analysis reveals a disconnect between evidence-based recommendations and official guidelines. Statements often used outdated, arbitrary, and contradictory language to justify denial of treatments, a practice that appears to be largely unchanged since 2017 when EHB modifications were permitted. For individuals who depend on EHB coverage as a strong determinant of chronic pain management, it is especially vital for states to ensure access to comprehensive options including nonpharmacological treatments to improve the current trajectory of pain care in America.

Complementary and Integrated Health Approaches:
What Do Veterans Use and Want

J Gen Intern Med. 2019 (Jul);   34 (7):   1192–1199 ~ FULL TEXT

In the past year, 52% used any complementary and integrative health (CIH) approach, with 44% using massage therapy, 37% using chiropractic, 34% using mindfulness, 24% using other meditation, and 25% using yoga. For nine CIH approaches, pain and stress reduction/relaxation were the two most frequent reasons veterans gave for using them. Overall, 84% said they were interested in trying/learning more about at least one CIH approach, with about half being interested in six individual CIH approaches (e.g., massage therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture, acupressure, reflexology, and progressive relaxation). Veterans appeared to be much more likely to use each CIH approach outside the VHA vs. within the VHA.

Non-pharmacological Management of Persistent
Headaches Associated with Neck Pain: A
Clinical Practice Guideline from the
Ontario Protocol for Traffic Injury
Management (OPTIMa) Collaboration

European J Pain 2019 (Jul); 23 (6): 1051–1070

This clinical practice guideline is based on comprehensive literature searches, and its recommendations were developed from high-quality evidence. When developing clinical recommendations, the Guideline Expert Panel considered effectiveness, safety, cost-effectiveness and consistency with societal and ethical values. Moreover, the lived experiences of patients with their care were used when developing recommendations (Lindsay et al., 2016). Our recommendations also included consideration of effect sizes; minimal clinically important differences were used to assess the magnitude of benefit of an intervention on patient outcomes. Finally, the Guideline Expert Panel disclosed any conflicts of interest and maintained editorial independence.

Whole Health in the Whole System of the Veterans
Administration: How Will We Know We Have
Reached This Future State?

J Altern Complement Med 2019 (Mar); 25 (S1): S7–S11 ~ FULL TEXT

In the early years of whole systems research in integrative health, who imagined 15 years down the road that we would be looking at an effort to transform the whole system of the Veterans Administration (VA) with two long-time integrative health leaders piloting the initiative? This special issue is to separately publish “ What Should Healthcare Systems Consider When Implementing Complementary and Integrative Health.”

We invited this commentary as a companion piece on the context of the VA's “whole health” model in which that work is imbedded. Specifically, research is needed to show that in fact the system had reached what the authors call this “future state.”

What Should Health Care Systems Consider When
Implementing Complementary and Integrative
Health: Lessons from Veterans
Health Administration

J Altern Complement Med 2019 (Mar); 25 (S1): S52–S60 ~ FULL TEXT

VA medical facilities have been somewhat successful in implementing complementary and integrative health (CIH) programs, despite the numerous challenges they face. Some of those challenges are typical for interventions being implemented into health care systems, whereas others seem particular to CIH approaches. However, regardless of their size, geographic location, and the amount of funding they received, all medical centers had some success with implementing CIH approaches and all were struggling to overcome challenges. In response to those challenges, VA medical facilities and the IHCC have creatively developed a wide range of strategies to support CIH implementations. Many are reproducible by other health care systems or providers wanting to initiate or strengthen their CIH programs.

Due to these activities, CIH approaches are continuing their rapid expansion in the VA. Preliminary results from our recent national survey show that VA medical centers provide an average of 6 CIH approaches, with a quarter offering over 10. [27] Currently, the most frequently offered are: yoga, mindfulness-based stress reduction, meditation, guided imagery, acupuncture, t'ai chi, and relaxation responses. With this, the VA is moving closer to transforming from a medical/disease-based system of care to a health care system addressing the whole patient.

Guideline Recommendations on the
Pharmacological Management of
Non-specific Low Back Pain in
Primary Care – Is There
a Need to Change?

Expert Rev Clin Pharmacol. 2019 (Feb); 12 (2): 145–157 ~ FULL TEXT

Upcoming guideline updates should explicitly shift their focus from pain to function and from pharmacotherapy to non-pharmacological treatments; patient education is important to make sure NSLBP patients accept these changes. To improve the quality of NSLBP care, the evidence-practice gap should be closed through guideline implementation strategies.

Veteran Experiences Seeking
Non-pharmacologic Approaches for Pain

Military Medicine 2018 (Nov 1); 183 (11-12): e628-e634 ~ FULL TEXT

The veterans in this qualitative study expressed interest in using non-pharmacologic approaches to manage pain, but voiced complex multi-level barriers. Limitations of our study include that interviews were conducted only in five clinics and with seven female veterans. These limitations are minimized in that the clinics covered are diverse ranging to include urban, suburban, and rural residents. Future implementation efforts can learn from the veterans' voice to appropriately target veteran concerns and achieve more patient-centered pain care.

Coverage of Nonpharmacologic Treatments for
Low Back Pain Among US Public
and Private Insurers

JAMA Network Open 2018 (Oct 5); 1 (6): e183044 ~ FULL TEXT

Insurers are increasingly recognized as influential stakeholders that are well positioned to drive changes in pain treatment practices. One key component of such changes is the greater use of nonpharmacologic approaches to managing chronic, noncancer pain, as has been recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, [10] the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, [8] and others. [25] To our knowledge, our work represents the most comprehensive assessment of coverage policies regarding the medical necessity, coverage, and management of nonpharmacologic treatments for back pain.

Insurer Coverage of Nonpharmacological
Treatments for Low Back Pain -
Time for a Change

JAMA Network Open 2018 (Oct 5); 1 (6): e183037 ~ FULL TEXT

Finally, future payment policies should decrease patient out-of-pocket expenses to strongly encourage earlier use of evidence-based nonpharmacological treatment options. Heyward et al found that median out-of-pocket costs for covered nonpharmacological treatments ranged from $25 to $60 per visit for commercial insurers. The usual dose of treatments such as physical therapy and chiropractic care is commonly between 6 and 12 visits. Thus, out-of-pocket expenses can vary from $150 to $720 or more. In contrast, Lin et al [10] found that the median cost of a 30-day supply of preferred generic opioids by commercial insurers is $10. Given the significant differences in cost, many patients do not realistically have the option of seeking nonpharmacological treatment.

Patterns of Conventional and Complementary
Non-pharmacological Health Practice Use
by US Military Veterans: A Cross-sectional
Latent Class Analysis

BMC Complement Altern Med. 2018 (Sep 5); 18 (1): 246 ~ FULL TEXT

Half of the sample used non-pharmacological health practices. Six classes of users were identified. "Low use" (50%) had low rates of health practice use. "Exercise" (23%) had high exercise use. "Psychotherapy" (6%) had high use of psychotherapy and support groups. "Manual therapies" (12%) had high use of chiropractic, physical therapy, and massage. "Mindfulness" (5%) had high use of mindfulness and relaxation practice. "Multimodal" (4%) had high use of most practices. Use of manual therapies (chiropractic, acupuncture, physical therapy, massage) was associated with chronic pain and female sex. Characteristics that predict use patterns varied by class. Use of self-directed practices (e.g., aerobic exercise, yoga) was associated with the personality trait of absorption (openness to experience). Use of psychotherapy was associated with higher rates of psychological distress. These observed patterns of use of non-pharmacological health practices show that functionally similar practices are being used together and suggest a meaningful classification of health practices based on self-directed/active and practitioner-delivered. Notably, there is considerable overlap in users of complementary and conventional practices.

Effect of Usual Medical Care Plus Chiropractic
Care vs Usual Medical Care Alone on Pain and
Disability Among US Service Members With Low
Back Pain: A Comparative Effectiveness
Clinical Trial
JAMA Network Open. 2018 (May 18); 1 (1): e180105 ~ FULL TEXT

Chiropractic care, when added to usual medical care (UMC), resulted in moderate short-term treatment benefits in both LBP intensity and disability, demonstrated a low risk of harms, and led to high patient satisfaction and perceived improvement in active-duty military personnel. This trial provides additional support for the inclusion of chiropractic care as a component of multidisciplinary health care for LBP, as currently recommended in existing guidelines. [21, 22, 37] However, study limitations illustrate that further research is needed to understand longer-term outcomes as well as how patient heterogeneity and intervention variations affect patient responses.
You will enjoy this Invited Commentary, titled:
Innovating to Improve Care for Low Back Pain in the Military:
Chiropractic Care Passes Muster

You will also enjoy Medscape Medical News' review of this study, titled:
Chiropractic Care Improves Usual Management for Low Back Pain

Spinal Manipulative Therapy and Other Conservative
Treatments for Low Back Pain: A Guideline From
the Canadian Chiropractic Guideline Initiative

J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2018 (May); 41 (4): 265–293 ~ FULL TEXT

For patients with acute (0–3 months) back pain, we suggest offering advice (posture, staying active), reassurance, education and self-management strategies in addition to SMT, usual medical care when deemed beneficial, or a combination of SMT and usual medical care to improve pain and disability. For patients with chronic (>3 months) back pain, we suggest offering advice and education, SMT or SMT as part of a multimodal therapy (exercise, myofascial therapy or usual medical care when deemed beneficial). For patients with chronic back-related leg pain, we suggest offering advice and education along with SMT and home exercise (positioning and stabilization exercises).   A multimodal approach including SMT, other commonly used active interventions, self-management advice, and exercise is an effective treatment strategy for acute and chronic back pain, with or without leg pain.

Clinical Policy Recommendations from the VHA
State-of-the-Art Conference on Non-
Pharmacological Approaches to Chronic
Musculoskeletal Pain

J Gen Intern Med 2018 (May); 33 (Suppl 1): 16–23 ~ FULL TEXT

Integration of these non-pharmacological approaches into primary care, pain care, and mental health settings should be a policy priority, and these treatments should be offered early in the course of pain treatment. Multimodal care which incorporates approaches designed to engage and activate patients and to build self-management skills and which utilizes care managers and telehealth strategies should be the standard of care for chronic pain. In addition, we recommend that VHA leadership and policy makers systematically address the barriers to implementation of these approaches by expanding opportunities for clinician and veteran education on the effectiveness of these strategies; supporting and funding further research to determine optimal dosage, duration, sequencing, combination and frequency of treatment; and working to address socioeconomic and cultural barriers to veterans’ access to non-pharmacological approaches. To better evaluate the impact of these approaches, investment in more effective strategies for tracking the use of psychological, behavioral, and mind-body therapies in VHA clinical settings is also critical. Implementation of these recommendations has the potential to make the VHA a national model for improving care for chronic musculoskeletal pain.

Use of Non-Pharmacological Pain Treatment
Modalities Among Veterans with
Chronic Pain: Results from a
Cross-Sectional Survey

J Gen Intern Med. 2018 (May); 33 (Suppl 1): 54–60 ~ FULL TEXT

In summary, results from cross-sectional survey data indicated that the majority of veterans with chronic pain reported using at least one NPM in the past year. Some differences were observed in the use of non-pharmacological pain treatment modalities (NPMs), based on demographic and clinical characteristics, which may indicate differences in veteran treatment preferences or provider referral patterns. Our findings may be useful in developing targeted interventions to improve referral processes and treatment uptake. For example, veterans with a mental health history may be more amenable to referrals to psychological/behavioral treatment, and providers should be sure to recommend exercise/movement therapies for women veterans. Most importantly, however, providers should emphasize the overall benefits of using NPMs and use a shared decision making approach to determine which NPMs might work best for each patient. Future research should utilize both self-report and electronic health records (EHR) data to examine pain management strategy use (including pharmacological and non-pharmacological strategies) over time. Looking at these relationships over time may provide insight into how the combination of treatments or sequencing of treatments relates to pain intensity and pain-related functioning.

Primary Care Management of Non-specific
Low Back Pain: Key Messages from
Recent Clinical Guidelines

Medical J Australia 2018 (Apr 2); 208 (6): 272–275 ~ FULL TEXT

Changes in management as a result of the guidelines:

  • emphasising simple first line care with early follow-up;

  • encouraging non-pharmacological treatments over pharmacological treatments; and

  • recommending against the use of surgery, injections and denervation procedures.

Integration of Doctors of Chiropractic Into Private
Sector Health Care Facilities in the United States:
A Descriptive Survey

J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2018 (Feb); 41 (2): 149–155 ~ FULL TEXT

This preliminary study indicated that a group of DCs practicing in integrated, private sector medical settings reported higher rates of bidirectional patient referrals, interprofessional communication, and interdisciplinary collaboration than previous surveys of chiropractors working outside of medical settings.

The Non-pharmacologic Therapies Low Back Pain Guidelines

A Unique Series of Articles

All 5 of the following guideline-related articles reviewed the medical literature on low back pain and strongly advise medical doctors to first recommend non-pharmacologic therapies, including chiropractic, BEFORE resorting to offering NSAIDs, opiates or other more invasive treatments, for low back (spinal) pain patients.

These recommendations will:

  1. save money,
  2. will increase patient satisfaction,
  3. will improve patient outcomes and
  4. will reduce chronicity and potential addiction.

National Clinical Guidelines for Non-surgical
Treatment of Patients with Recent Onset Low
Back Pain or Lumbar Radiculopathy

European Spine Journal 2018 (Jan); 27 (1): 60–75 ~ ~ FULL TEXT

In 2012, the Danish Finance Act appropriated a total of €10.8 mio for the preparation of clinical guidelines. The Danish Health Authority (DHA) was subsequently commissioned to formulate 47 national clinical guidelines to support evidence-based decision making within health areas with a high burden of disease, a perceived large variation in practice, or uncertainty about which care was appropriate. [1] Two of these areas were low back pain (LBP) and lumbar radiculopathy (LR). Consequently in 2014, two working groups were formed with the aim of developing national clinical guidelines for non-surgical interventions for recent onset (<12 weeks) LBP and for recent onset (<12 weeks) LR. The primary target groups for these guidelines were primary sector healthcare providers, i.e., general practitioners, chiropractors, and physiotherapists, but also medical specialists or others in the primary or secondary healthcare sector handling patients with LBP or LR.

Guideline for Opioid Therapy and
Chronic Noncancer Pain

CMAJ. 2017 (May 8); 189 (18): E659–E666 ~ FULL TEXT

This new Canadian guideline published today (May 8, 2017) in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) strongly recommends doctors to consider non-pharmacologic therapy, including chiropractic, in preference to opioid therapy for chronic non-cancer pain.   The guideline is the product of an extensive review of evidence involving input from medical, non-medical, regulatory, and patient stakeholders.

Systemic Pharmacologic Therapies for Low
Back Pain: A Systematic Review for an
American College of Physicians
Clinical Practice Guideline

Annals of Internal Medicine 2017 (Apr 4); 166 (7): 480–492

The American College of Physicians (ACP) released updated guidelines this week that recommend the use of noninvasive, non-drug treatments for low back pain before resorting to drug therapies, which were found to have limited benefits. One of the non-drug options cited by ACP is spinal manipulation.

Nonpharmacologic Therapies for Low Back Pain:
A Systematic Review for an American College
of Physicians Clinical Practice Guideline

Annals of Internal Medicine 2017 (Apr 4); 166 (7): 493–505 ~ FULL TEXT

This report updates and expands on the earlier ACP/APS review [105] with additional interventions and newer evidence. We found evidence that mind–body interventions not previously addressed — tai chi (SOE, low) and mindfulness-based stress reduction (SOE, moderate) [45–47] — are effective for chronic low back pain; the new evidence also strengthens previous conclusions regarding yoga effectiveness (SOE, moderate). For interventions recommended as treatment options in the 2007 ACP/APS guideline [2], our findings were generally consistent with the prior review. Specifically, exercise therapy, psychological therapies, multidisciplinary rehabilitation, spinal manipulation, massage, and acupuncture are supported with some evidence of effectiveness for chronic low back pain (SOE, low to moderate). Unlike our previous report, which stated that higher-intensity multidisciplinary rehabilitation seemed to be more effective than lower-intensity programs, a stratified analysis based on currently available evidence [54] did not find a clear intensity effect. Our findings generally are consistent with recent systematic reviews not included in our evidence synthesis [106–117]. Although harms were not well-reported, serious adverse events were not described.
You will also enjoy the introductory Editorial, titled:
Management of Low Back Pain: Getting From
Evidence-Based Recommendations to High-Value Care

Annals of Internal Medicine 2017 (Apr 4); 166 (7): 533-534

Noninvasive Treatments for Acute, Subacute,
and Chronic Low Back Pain: A Clinical
Practice Guideline From the American
College of Physicians

Annals of Internal Medicine 2017 (Apr 4); 166 (7): 514–530 ~ FULL TEXT

Given that most patients with acute or subacute low back pain improve over time regardless of treatment, clinicians and patients should select nonpharmacologic treatment with superficial heat (moderate-quality evidence), massage, acupuncture, or spinal manipulation (low-quality evidence). If pharmacologic treatment is desired, clinicians and patients should select nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or skeletal muscle relaxants (moderate-quality evidence). (Grade: strong recommendation).

Influence of Initial Provider on Health Care
Utilization in Patients Seeking
Care for Neck Pain

Mayo Clin Proc Innov Qual Outcomes. 2017 (Oct 19); 1 (3): 226–233 ~ FULL TEXT

These findings support that initiating care with a nonpharmacological provider for a new episode of neck pain may present an opportunity to decrease opioid exposure (DC and PT) and advanced imaging and injections (DC only). Although these findings need confirmation in a better controlled study, our results suggest that adopting such a strategy aligns well with recent CDC and ACP recommendations and has the potential to decrease the management burden of neck pain by PCPs. Future research is needed to examine the association of patient-centered outcomes and health care utilization and to explore whether seeking care from a nonpharmacological provider is also associated with cost savings in addition to decreased health care utilization.

An Integrated Approach to Chronic Pain
Dynamic Chiropractic (May 2017) ~ FULL TEXT

Findings from a unique Medicaid pilot project in Rhode Island involving high-use Medicaid recipients from two health plans were recently presented to the state's Department of Health, [1] demonstrating stellar outcomes with regard to medication use, ER visits, health care costs and patient satisfaction.   Since 2012, Rhode Island Medicaid "Community of Care" enrollees suffering from chronic pain have participated in an integrated chronic pain program administered by Advanced Medicine Integration. Longtime readers will recall that for nearly two decades, AMI has been coordinating chiropractic and integrated care services in various states to help address the chronic pain epidemic in a community-based, integrated fashion. [2–3]

Severe Pain in Veterans: The Effect of Age and Sex,
and Comparisons with the General Population

J Pain 2017 (Mar); 18 (3): 247–254~ FULL TEXT

This study provides national prevalence estimates of US military veterans with severe pain, and compares veterans with nonveterans of similar age and sex. Data used are from the 2010 to 2014 National Health Interview Survey on 67,696 adults who completed the Adult Functioning and Disability Supplement. Participants with severe pain were identified using a validated pain severity coding system imbedded in the National Health Interview Survey Adult Functioning and Disability Supplement. It was estimated that 65.5% of US military veterans reported pain in the previous 3 months, with 9.1% classified as having severe pain. Compared with veterans, fewer nonveterans reported any pain (56.4%) or severe pain (6.4%). Whereas veterans aged 18 to 39 years had significantly higher prevalence rates for severe pain (7.8%) than did similar-aged nonveterans (3.2%), veterans age 70 years or older were less likely to report severe pain (7.1%) than nonveterans (9.6%).

Epidemiology of Chronic Low Back Pain in US
Adults: Data From the 2009-2010 National
Health and Nutrition Examination

Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken) 2016 (Nov); 68 (11): 1688–1694 ~ FULL TEXT

In conclusion, US adults with cLBP in 2009–2010 were less educated, less wealthy, and more likely to smoke, have depression, sleep disturbances, and other medical comorbidities than those without cLBP. They made more frequent healthcare visits and more often carried government-sponsored health insurance to cover the costs. Frequent healthcare visits in the cLBP group were strongly associated with depression and sleep disturbances. While causal inference cannot be established from a cross-sectional study design, the clustering of behavioral, psychosocial, and medical issues should be considered in the care and rehabilitation of Americans with cLBP.

Pain Management by Primary Care Physicians,
Pain Physicians, Chiropractors, and
Acupuncturists: A National Survey

Southern Medical Journal 2010 (Aug); 103 (8): 738–747

Analyses weighted to obtain nationally representative data showed that:

PCPs treat approximately   52% of chronic pain patients

chiropractors treat   40%

acupuncturists treat   7%

pain physicians treat   2%

Of the chronic pain patients seen for evaluation, the percentages subsequently treated on an ongoing basis range from 51% (PCPs) to 63% (pain physicians). Pain physicians prescribe long-acting opioids such as methadone, antidepressants or anti-convulsants, and other nontraditional analgesics approximately 50-100% more often than PCPs. Twenty-nine percent of PCPs and 16% of pain physicians reported prescribing opioids less often than they deem appropriate because of regulatory oversight concerns. Of the four groups, PCPs are least likely to feel confident in their ability to manage musculoskeletal pain and neuropathic pain, and are least likely to favor mandatory pain education for all PCPs.

Nonpharmacologic Therapies for Acute and
Chronic Low Back Pain: A Review of the
Evidence for an American Pain Society/
American College of Physicians
Clinical Practice Guideline

Annals of Internal Medicine 2007 (Oct 2); 147 (7): 492–504 ~ FULL TEXT

Therapies with good evidence of moderate efficacy for chronic or subacute low back pain are cognitive-behavioral therapy, exercise, spinal manipulation, and interdisciplinary rehabilitation.

Complementary and Alternative Medical
Therapies for Chronic Low Back Pain:
What Treatments Are Patients
Willing To Try?

BMC Complement Altern Med. 2004 (Jul 19); 4: 9 ~ FULL TEXT

Most patients with chronic back pain in our sample were interested in trying therapeutic options that lie outside the conventional medical spectrum. This highlights the need for additional studies evaluating their effectiveness and suggests that researchers conducting clinical trials of these therapies may not have difficulties recruiting patients.

Complementary Care: When is it Appropriate?
Who Will Provide It?

Annals of Internal Medicine 1998 (Jul 1); 129 (1): 65–66 ~ FULL TEXT

Born in the U.S. Midwest 100 years ago, chiropractic is a uniquely American contribution to health care. It drew from "vitalist" concepts and "energetic" healing traditions that were then current in the practice of an eclectic U.S. medicine and from the desire for drugless healing in reaction to the toxicity of the materia medica of that era. Despite this rather long history, social, political and economic pressures have limited the chiropractic workforce to 56,000 practitioners in the world (52,000 of them in the United States), plus a much smaller number of "traditional" osteopathic physicians and others who practice spinal manipulation. [10] In comparison, the mainstream medical workforce in the United States consists of about 600,000 physicians.

Even with these limitations on its growth, chiropractic is clearly the largest complementary health care force in the United States. Chiropractic is also the most "professionalized" of the complementary healing traditions available in the United States, with licensure in all 50 states, educational accreditation standards, continuing education requirements, and active research and investigation. Less organized and less professionalized disciplines of complementary care may be poorly prepared to develop guidelines and conduct research. In addition, the emphasis on tailoring complementary therapy to the individual patient may be at odds with the biomedical concepts of treatment protocols, practice guidelines, and population-based research. [11]

British Medical Journal's ABC's of CAM Series
British Medical Journal 1986–2003 ~ FULL TEXT

Enjoy this series of 17 BMJ articles reviewing what Alternative, Complementary and Integrative Medicine are, and how they differ.


Reference Materials

The Opioid Epidemic
A Chiro.Org article collection

The main findings of recent studies is that all included studies demonstrated a negative association between use of chiropractic care and opioid prescription receipt. The current study adds to the small but increasing body of evidence demonstrating that access to and utilization of chiropractic services are negatively associated with opioid use, and thus may warrant further investigation to determine if chiropractic care may be an effective component of opioid prescription reduction strategies. [16, 26, 27]

Cost-Effectiveness of Chiropractic
A Chiro.Org article collection

Take a close look at the 3 Cost-Effectiveness Triumvirate articles, as they detail how other studies have under-valued chiropractic care, by simply ignoring other medical and social costs, like extended unemoployment, drug costs and side-effects, and referred care patterns. They are a real eye-opener.

Initial Provider/First Contact and Chiropractic
A Chiro.Org article collection

Although the Cost Effectiveness page has always painted a rosey picture for patients and Insurers, recent studies have zeroed in on the extent of that savings when chiropractors are the first provider of care. As you will see, when we are the first and only provider, the savings are the greatest. In 1993 Pran Manga, Ph.D. recommended that placing DCs as the gatekeepers in Hospitals and for Work-related MSK injuries would save Ontario. Canada a fortune, and that has been bourne out in the studies that followed.

Chronic Neck Pain and Chiropractic
A Chiro.Org article collection

This section contains articles going back to the early 90s, and also provides an impressive Reference Materials section.

Low Back Pain and Chiropractic
A Chiro.Org article collection

This section contains articles going back to 1985, and also provides some helpful sub-sections on Patient Expectations of Relief, the Trajectories of Low Back Pain and a detailed section on What is Usual (medical) Care? .

Headache and Chiropractic
A Chiro.Org article collection

This section contains articles going back to 1988, and also provides some helpful sub-sections on the sub-types of headaches, including Cervicogenic, Chronic Tension, and Migraine Headache.

British Medical Journal's ABC's of CAM Series
A Chiro.Org article collection

British Medical Journal 1986–2003 ~ FULL TEXT
Enjoy this series of 17 BMJ articles reviewing what Alternative, Complementary and Integrative Medicine are, and how they differ.

Chiropractic Care For Veterans
A Chiro.Org article collection

Enjoy this collection of articles by DCs who treat our Vets, going back to 2002. It ALSO contains a section with the collected Congressional Acts and Veterans Affairs Documents as a reference.

Workers' Compensation and Chiropractic
A Chiro.Org article collection

Studies going back to the 1980s reveal that chiropractic care gets workers back to work faster and cheaper than standard medical care. Drop by and enjoy this new topical collection.





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Updated 11-27-2023

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