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Top 8 Research Breakthroughs to Support Chiropractic Care in the Last Decade

Chiropractor and Researcher, Dr. Christopher Kent reviews hundreds of chiropractic research articles each month which have a direct bearing on many aspects of your mental, physical and overall health care costs. While most studies relate to common neck or back pain, there are many that ignored by the chiropractic profession. Many of these have a major impact on your health care costs, reducing surgery, improving overall wellness and decreasing mental and physical symptoms.

Decreased Costs and Utilization of Medical Services with Chiropractic Care

Spectacular decreases in the utilization of medical services and their attendant costs were observed when Doctors of Chiropractic were used as first contact providers. In an Independent Practice Association (IPA) which permitted patients to select a doctor of chiropractic as their primary care physician, clinical and cost utilization based on 70,274 member-months over a seven-year period demonstrated decreases of 60.2 percent in hospital admissions, 59 percent hospital days, 62 percent outpatient surgeries and procedures, and 85 percent pharmaceutical costs when compared with conventional medicine. These were across the board savings, not merely back and neck cases.

Sarnat RL, Winterstein J, Cambron JA: Clinical utilization and cost outcomes from an integrative medicine independent physician association: an additional 3-year update. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2007 May;30(4):263-9.

Blood Pressure Regulation and Upper Cervical Chiropractic Adjustment

The scope of chiropractic is as broad as the scope of influence of the human nervous system. This landmark study was a randomized, controlled trial of hypertensive patients. Those in the intervention group received a form of upper cervical chiropractic care (NUCCA). The authors wrote, “We conclude that restoration of Atlas alignment is associated with marked and sustained reductions in BP similar to the use of two-drug combination therapy.” This study received extensive positive exposure in the media.

Bakris G, Dickholtz M Sr, Meyer PM, Kravitz G, Avery E, Miller M, Brown J, Woodfield C, Bell B: Atlas vertebra realignment and achievement of arterial pressure goal in hypertensive patients: a pilot study. J Hum Hypertens. 2007 May;21(5):347-52. Epub 2007 Mar 2.

Benefits of a Comprehensive Wellness Program Implemented by Chiropractors

A retrospective study of a standardized, 18-week wellness protocol was shown to improve weight, heart rate, blood pressure, strength, body-mass index, and forced vital capacity. The wellness protocol (Creating Wellness) focused on diet, exercise, nutritional supplementation, and one-on-one coaching. The author also reported, “All of the participating clinics practice a form of chiropractic that involves management of vertebral subluxation. This application of chiropractic is not solely directed at spinal manipulation for the treatment of neuromusculoskeletal pain syndromes. It is based on the contention that misalignments and/or abnormal motion of vertebral motion units may compromise neural integrity and may influence organ system function and general health and well-being.”

McCoy M: Evaluation of a standardized wellness protocol to improve anthropometric and physiologic function and to reduce health risk factors: a retrospective analysis of outcome. J Altern Complement Med. 2011 Jan;17(1):39-44. doi: 10.1089/acm.2010.0113. Epub 2011 Jan 3.

Mental Health and Chiropractic

From the establishment of in-patient chiropractic sanitariums to publication of a text with contributions from two Nobel Laureates, doctors of chiropractic have a long history of providing care for persons with mental health issues. The PRISM (Psychological response in spinal manipulation) study was a systematic review of psychological outcomes in twelve randomized controlled trials. The authors reported a small improvement in psychological outcomes after spinal manipulation compared with verbal interventions and other physical treatments, with small and medium sized standardized mean differences (SMDs) in favor of manipulation compared to primary care and advice. The potential of chiropractic care to improve psychological outcomes deserves further exploration.

Williams NH1, Hendry M, Lewis R, Russell I, Westmoreland A, Wilkinson C: Psychological response in spinal manipulation (PRISM): a systematic review of psychological outcomes in randomized controlled trials. Complement Ther Med. 2007 Dec;15(4):271-83. Epub 2007 Mar 8.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18054729

Surgery Less Likely if a Doctor of Chiropractic is Seen First

A study looking at 1885 workers, 174 of which had lumbar spine surgery in the last three years, sought to identify early predictors of having lumbar spine surgery. The authors reported “Approximately 42.7% of workers who first saw a surgeon had surgery, in contrast to only 1.5% of those who saw a chiropractor. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of the multivariate model was 0.93 (95% confidence interval, 0.92-0.95), indicating excellent ability to discriminate between workers who would versus would not have surgery.”

Chiropractic Care Associated with Satisfaction, Functional and Self-Rated Health of Medicare Patients.

This study used a model to determine “the effect of chiropractic relative to medical care on decline in 5 functional measures and 2 measures of self-rated health among 12,170 person-year observations.” The authors concluded that “chiropractic is significantly protective against 1-year decline in activities of daily living, lifting, stooping, walking, self-rated health, and worsening health after 1 year. Persons using chiropractic are more satisfied with their follow-up care and with the information provided to them.

Weigel PA, Hockenberry JM, Wolinsky FD: Chiropractic use in the medicare population: prevalence, patterns, and associations with 1-year changes in health and satisfaction with care. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2014 Oct;37(8):542-51. doi:10.1016/j.jmpt.2014.08.003. Epub 2014 Sep 16.

Asymptomatic Persons Benefit from Chiropractic Care

A review of literature was conducted using the terms “asymptomatic” “normal” “pain-free” “healthy” or “free from physical injury.” The author concluded, “The data reviewed lend support to the contention that chiropractic adjustments, often for the purpose of correcting vertebral subluxation, confer measurable health benefits to people regardless of the presence or absence of symptoms. A significant amount of preliminary evidence supports that people without symptoms can benefit from chiropractic care. Improved function can be objectively measured in asymptomatic individuals following chiropractic care in a number of body systems often by relatively non-invasive means. It is plausible that chiropractic care may be of benefit to every function of the body and have the potential for long-term, overall health benefit to those receiving chiropractic care.”

Hannon SM: Objective physiologic changes and associated health benefits of chiropractic adjustments in asymptomatic subjects: A review of the literature. Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research ~ April 26, 2004 ~ Pages 1-9.

 8. Heart Rate Variability (HRV) and Chiropractic

Decreased heart rate variability is associated with all-cause mortality, depression, diabetes, air pollution, impaired cognitive performance, and memory retrieval. A growing body of evidence from across disciplines suggests the HRV may be used to address adaptive capacity and autonomic nervous system balance. The authors wrote, “Heart rate variability (HRV) analysis has been used extensively as a measurement of fitness level, and recent studies now indicate that it may be a useful tool in detecting and following disease processes. Heart rate variability analysis determines the balance between PNS and SNS using time and frequency domain measurements. Heart rate variability has been used clinically to determine the balance of the autonomic nervous system.” In this study, the authors collected pre and post HRV data on 625 patients in 96 chiropractic practices. 132 patients were followed for a four-week period. The authors reported that “The chiropractic care group showed a significant improvement in HRV on both the single-visit and the 4-week visit groups, but not in the control group.”

Zhang J, Dean D, Nosco D, Strathopulos D, Floros M: Effect of chiropractic care on heart rate variability and pain in a multisite clinical study. J Manipulative Physiol Therapy. 2006 May;29(4):267-74.

While these are just a few of the many additional benefits of regular chiropractic care. I continue to recommend chiropractic care for yourself and your friends and family. 

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