For our first look at ways to save money by preventing America’s Most Expensive Health Conditions we are going to take a look at number 9 on the list – Back Problems. It is estimated that 32 billion dollars was spent on the care of back problems last year including 17 billion on outpatient and 8 billion on inpatient medical care.
Like many conditions there are a numerous ways to maintain the health of your body to prevent low back pain. One simple action, of which their are numerous programs and resources available, is exercise, specifically core stabilizing exercises. These exercises, which can be performed in the home, help to protect the lower back by preventing improper and promoting proper movements of the spine. The savings of this type of exercise are demonstrated in a study by the University of Florida with the Brooke Army Medical Center. It found that soldiers that utilizing a simple low back stabilization program had a 40% less rate of back pain over soldiers not using the program. This resulted in a savings of over 4 million dollars over the 4 year period of the study.
The best way to prevent lower back pain is to maintain the health of the joints and nerves of the spine with chiropractic adjustments. Most of the time back pain is the result of a chronic problem which builds over weeks, month, even years, until it reaches a threshold where pain finally occurs. The problem is there long before the pain starts. By intervening in the early stages of this process we can much more quickly, easily, and cheaply fix the problem, and then address the lifestyle issues that cause it, rather than waiting until it becomes much more serious.
Chiropractic care has been shown to be the treatment of choice for low back pain for both success rate and cost effectiveness. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, looked at the effect of systematic access to chiropractic care on the overall and neuromusculoskeletal specific utilization of health care resources within a large managed-care system. This study found that individual members with chiropractic coverage had a 12% lower annual medical care cost than those without it. The researchers concluded that access to managed chiropractic care may reduce overall health care expenditures through several effects, including (1) positive risk selection; (2) substitution of chiropractic for traditional medical care, particularly for spine conditions; (3) more conservative, less invasive treatment profiles; and (4) lower health service costs associated with managed chiropractic care. Some additional findings included:
- Back pain patients with chiropractic coverage had fewer inpatient hospital stays than did those without chiropractic coverage (9.3 vs 15.6 stays per 1000 patients).
- Patients who had coverage for chiropractic care for back pain had fewer magnetic resonance imaging tests compared with those without chiropractic coverage (43.2 vs 68.9 magnetic resonance images per 1000 patients).
- The rate of lower back surgery among patients with chiropractic coverage was lower as well (3.3 vs 4.8 surgical procedures per 1000 patients).
The key to back pain, like most health conditions, is to take an active role in your health. Don’t wait until you are in pain or are sick, do something to help yourself now!