Chiropractic Care Can Lower Overall Medical Costs, New Data Suggests

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New data from Optum, a health care consulting agency, suggests that if spinal manipulation is not included during the management of a non-surgical spinal episode, the total cost of care will be higher.

The data set, which covers a two-year span, projected that — had the reported 14.7 million non-surgical spinal episodes begun with chiropractic care — there would have been a total savings of about $1.3 billion.

“Musculoskeletal conditions rank amongst the costliest in health care and are a top concern for all stakeholders – patients and payers, alike,” states Gerard Clum, DC, a spokesperson with the non-profit Foundation for Chiropractic Progress in a press release. “Doctors of Chiropractic (DC) provide evidence-based, cost-effective care, which includes spinal manual care appropriate for the management of these conditions and other health concerns.”

In the United States, DCs deliver more than 94% of spinal manipulations, which, as the Optum data indicates, can have several benefits when performed within the first 10 days of a spinal episode. A few advantages include reduced overall costs and lower need for additional treatments, such as prescriptive medicine and surgery. Experts at the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress reason that if chiropractic care is performed first, the costs per episode can be reduced by as much as 40%.

In addition to lowering the cost of spinal episodes and improving a person’s recovery process, chiropractic care has been shown to have several other benefits. A systematic literature search published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics discussed 21 different studies which found that “chiropractic care, including spinal manipulation” can reduce the intensity of a headache, frequency of headaches, and their duration. Other studies have found that chiropractic care can even improve digestive issues and patients’ immune systems.

“Chiropractic care advances the opportunity for optimal outcomes across care delivery, quality and cost,” said Dr. Clum in the statement. “The Optum data further validates the value of chiropractic care and acceptance of the rising trend: chiropractic first, medicine second, and surgery last.”

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