Chiropractic has a reputation as an effective treatment for back pain. Looking back on 4 years of health care claims from 1.7 million people, the cost of treating back pain was dramatically decreased if chiropractic care was covered by the patient’s health plan. Additionally, people with back pain were subjected to 23 to 41 percent fewer X-rays, MRI/CT scans, low-back surgeries, and hospitalizations if chiropractic care was covered in their health plan. For patients with musculoskeletal conditions like back pain, total health care expenses dropped by 12-15 percent if chiropractic care was covered.
Chiropractic care is effective for health issues beyond back pain. Another long-term study looked at the clinical use patterns and costs in a managed care plan that used doctors of chiropractic as the primary health care provider. After analyzing 7 years’ worth of data, the authors found that hospitalizations and surgeries decreased by 60 percent and pharmaceutical costs dropped by 85 percent.
For older people, chiropractic care is associated with a higher quality of life. In a 3-year study of people over age 75, chiropractic users “were less likely to have been hospitalized, less likely to have used a nursing home, more likely to report a better health status, more likely to exercise vigorously, and more likely to be mobile in the community. In addition, they were less likely to use prescription drugs.” For those under chiropractic care, the relative risk reduction for hospitalization was 50 percent, and for admission to a nursing home the relative risk dropped by 80 percent.
- Legorreta AP, et al. 2004. Comparative analysis of individuals with and without chiropractic coverage. Archives of Internal Medicine 164:1985-1992.
- Sarnat RL, Winterstein J, Cambron JA. 2007. Clinical utilization and cost outcomes from an integrative medicine independent physician associated: an additional 3-year update. Journal of Manipulative and physiological therapeutics 30:263-269.
- Coulter ID, et al. 1996. Chiropractic patients in a comprehensive home-based geriatric assessment, follow-up and health promotion program. Topics in Clinical Chiropractic 3(2):46-55.