How Chiropractic Can Reduce Back Pain Costs in Older Patients

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We spend a tremendous amount of money in the United States on back pain. The World Health Organization estimates that we spend as much as $200 billion a year on all of the costs of back pain, including treatment and lost work. Back pain is truly a major public health problem.

Research shows that chiropractic care reduces medical costs for back pain.1 Because chiropractic care is natural and non-invasive, it doesn’t include all of the expensive costs like medications and surgery.

Now, a new study2 found that having more access to chiropractic reduced healthcare costs, as well.

In this study, the authors looked at the Medicare records of 84,679 older adults who had spinal pain between 2010 and 2014. They cross-referenced that data with whether the individual moved to a different area during the study time. They determined whether those patients who moved had relocated to an area with more or fewer chiropractors per capita.

The authors found patients who moved from an area with many chiropractors to an area with fewer chiropractors, back pain costs jumped as much as $513!

The authors conclude:

“This study is among the first to examine whether access to chiropractic care, a health service that provides a significant amount of the nation’s conservative management of nonspecific back pain, has any effect on Medicare spending. We found some evidence of a relationship between lower accessibility of chiropractic care and higher spending on diagnostic imaging and testing.”

The fact of the matter is this: most cases of back pain don’t need expensive intervention. Non-invasive approaches like chiropractic and core strengthening help reduce back pain symptoms and prevent future episodes of back pain without risky drugs or surgeries that have limited success.

  1. Martins B, et al. The association of complementary and alternative medicine use and health care expenditures for back and neck problems. Medical Care 2012; 50 (12): 1029-1036. doi: 10.1097/MLR.0b013e318269e0b2.
  2. Davis MA, Yakusheva O, Liu H, Tootoo J, Titler MG, Bynum JPW. Access to chiropractic care and the cost of spine conditions among older adults. American Journal of Managed Care Care. 2019 Aug 1;25(8):e230-e236. PubMed PMID: 31419099; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6699757.
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