With a shaky economy and the unknown future of healthcare in the US, consumers need better options in relieving pain and promoting health. A visit to a medical office for neck or low back pain can quickly progress to medication dependence and thousands of dollars in medical expenses. Chiropractic care is growing in popularity due to its approach to wellness and prevention healthcare, not reaction medicine. As more research reveals the cost-effectiveness of chiropractic care for treating neuromusculoskeletal complaints such as neck and low back pain, more insurances are including it as a covered benefit, and more medical doctors are referring their patients to chiropractors for relief.
Medical care is expensive!
An average visit to a medical office ranges from $60 to $300+ depending on the doctor and nature of the visit. Even with insurance coverage, a deductible or large co-pay can quickly add up to a deep hole in your wallet. You leave the office only to go to a pharmacy to purchase prescription medications that may be harmful and/or addictive. By the end of it all, you owe about $1000 to the medical office because you hurt your back gardening last weekend. The pain medication eases the pain, but does not address the underlying injury by masking it. Once the medication is gone, the pain comes back, and long story short you become addicted to medication. This may sound all too familiar to you or someone you know. For many people this is their current situation, the insurance companies continue to pay pharmaceutical companies to keep producing chemicals to keep up the addiction rates, a vicious cycle.
The opposite view of healthcare
Same situation, but instead of seeing your family doctor for the pain, you decide to see a chiropractor. A typical visit at a chiropractic office costs between $30 and $60. Many chiropractors offer a free or discounted examination and x-rays, something you will never see at a medical office. The chiropractor's goal is to get you out of pain AND fix the underlying issue so the pain doesn't return. Since chiropractors do not use harmful medications, the pain relief may not be instantaneous, and can be discouraging to those looking for a "quick-fix." Initial treatment periods may last a few weeks but the overall cost of care still remains much less than going to see a medical doctor.
Chiropractic care saves you money and takes it away from Big Pharma
Recent research has been examining the cost-effectiveness of chiropractic care among other natural alternatives (physiotherapy, acupuncture, massage) versus conventional medicine. A 2012 systemic review found spinal manipulation therapy to be more cost-effective for neck and low back pain when compared with general practitioner care, physiotherapy or exercise. A study in 2007 compared care costs of a patient under the direction of a chiropractor as their primary care physician (PCP) versus a medical doctor. After 70,000 member-months spanning a 7-year period, hospital admission costs were decreased by 60.2 percent, cost of days spent in the hospital were decreased by 59.0 percent, and outpatient surgeries and procedures were down by 62.0 percent. If these numbers were not astonishing enough, the costs associated with pharmaceuticals decreased by 85 percent when compared to conventional medically driven care. All of these comparisons were done in the same time frame, geography, and health maintenance organization product.
Get the big picture?
The message would seem to be clear, but only recently have insurance providers and the medical industry began accepting chiropractic care as a viable and cost-effective treatment for neck and low back pain. If you haven't been to a chiropractor, it's time you started. Ask friends and family to refer you to a trusted chiropractor or look-up reviews online for someone in your area. The next time you need to see a doctor, help out your body and your wallet by going to your chiropractor.