The Conventional wisdom is wrong.
Two articles caught our eye recently. The first, published by The New York Times, was titled “Not Telling Your Doctor You Use Acupuncture and Chiropractic.”1 It referenced a study published in the American Journal of Managed Care. In that study, the researchers reported that of 6,068 chronic pain patients surveyed, an astonishing 47 percent reported using chiropractic care.2
Furthermore, about 30 percent said they used acupuncture, and about 20 percent used both chiropractic and acupuncture. Interestingly, the number who used neither of these modalities of care totaled about 40 percent— a number smaller than the chiropractic group.
To be clear, this was a cluster of patients in a particular demographic, and not representative of the entire population. Still, it’s common to hear DCs cite the number of patients who use chiropractic at about 8 percent of adults (approximately 18 million) and some 3 percent of children (about 2 million) on an annual basis.
But as the abovementioned study shows, among those with chronic back, neck, and joint pain, chiropractic and acupuncture are remarkably popular. And with good reason: Allopathic medicine isn’t very good at managing painful chronic conditions.
With these patients, a medical doctor will normally prescribe some type of NSAID, and possibly an opioid analgesic. In the short term this strategy offers immediate relief, but over time the health and psychological consequences can be severe. Surgical outcomes for low-back pain are frighteningly poor.
In an era of dizzyingly high healthcare costs, it’s easy to see why patients grappling with chronic pain gravitate toward less-expensive and more conservative care first. If you have marketing savvy, you should clearly see the opportunity this presents.
Daniel Sosnoski, editor-in-chief
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1 Rabin RC. “Not Telling Your Doctor You Use Acupuncture and Chiropractic.” The New York Times. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/07/23/not-telling-your-doctor-you-use-acupuncture-and-chiropractic. Published July 2015. Accessed July 2015.
2 Elder C, DeBar L, Ritenbaugh C, Vollmer W, et al. “Acupuncture and Chiropractic Care: Utilisation and Electronic Meidcal Record Capture.” AJMC. http://www.ajmc.com/journals/issue/2015/2015-vol21-n7/Acupuncture-and-Chiropractic-Care-Utilization-and-Electronic-Medical-Record-Capture. Published July 2015. Accessed August 2015.