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In a recent study published in the April 2011 issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, the authors found that in work-related lower back pain, the “care provided by physical therapists or physician services was associated with a higher disability recurrence than in chiropractic services or no treatment.”
This study is saying that patients who received chiropractic care or no treatment after returning to work had a lower rate of recurring disability than those treated by physical therapists or doctors.  The study even implies that “traditional medical approaches” to treating lower back pain from work-related injuries are often “procedures of unproven cost utility value or dubious efficacy.”  The study followed workers’ compensation data of nearly 900 patients, and analyzed their progress and health maintenance upon returning to work.
Two articles on Dynamic Chiropractic take a closer look at this study and discuss the [somewhat] surprising results.  In the article, “Are Chiropractors Protecting Patients From Medical Care?”, Donald Petersen Jr. emphasizes that the study was led by a medical doctor and published in a scientific journal, which is a great step in the right direction in terms of reducing the skepticism toward chiropractic often held by the medical community.
The article “Chiropractic Works, and So Can Your Patients” is more of a comprehensive discussion of the study’s findings and results, and highlights that chiropractic care was more cost effective and beneficial than physical therapy and traditional medical approaches.  The study found that “the only or mostly chiropractor group during the disability episode and health maintenance care periods and ‘chiropractor loyalists’ during both periods combined had fewer surgeries, used fewer opioids, and had lower costs for medical care than the other provider groups.”

I have long been a proponent of non invasive procedures and looking at health from the big picture instead of covering pain up with medications – it’s great to know that more and more studies have been published in recent months showing the benefits of chiropractic care in comparison with traditional medical care.