Countless studies have demonstrated that chiropractic care is a safe and effective way to treat musculoskeletal complaints like back pain, neck pain, or sciatica. Now a new study from Switzerland has looked at the relative benefits of chiropractic compared to medical care for the most common types of pain issues.
In this study, the authors examined data from people who reported spinal, hip, or shoulder pain. 403 patients saw a medical doctor for relief; 316 people saw a chiropractor. Four months after treatment, the patients were asked to fill out a survey reporting on their recovery.
The authors found that:
- “Patients initially consulting MDs had significantly less reduction in their numerical pain rating score…”
- Patients who saw MDs were significantly less satisfied with the care they received and the outcome of that care.
- Patients who saw a chiropractor had significantly lower healthcare costs for their treatment.
The authors conclude that patients should first be sent to a chiropractor for musculoskeletal problems, rather than a medical doctor:
“The findings of this study support first-contact care provided by DCs as an alternative to first-contact care provided by MDs for a select number of musculoskeletal conditions. Restrictive models of care in which patients are required to contact a medical provider before consulting a chiropractic provider may be counterproductive for patients experiencing the musculoskeletal conditions investigated and possibly others. In addition to potentially reducing health care costs, direct access to chiropractic care may ease the workload on MDs, particularly in areas with poor medical coverage and hence enabling them to focus on complex cases. The minority of patients with complex health problems initially consulting a chiropractic provider would be referred to, or comanaged with, a medical provider to provide optimal care.”
Houweling TAW, Braga AV, Hausheer T, et al. First-Contact Care With a Medical vs Chiropractic Provider After Consultation With a Swiss Telemedicine Provider: Comparison of Outcomes, Patient Satisfaction, and Health Care Costs in Spinal, Hip, and Shoulder Pain Patients. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2015;38(7):477-83.