Medical biases against doctors of chiropractic in the workers'' compensation arena are beginning to fade, as new research points to chiropractic''s effectiveness at getting workers back on the job more quickly and less expensively than traditional medical care, according to the July 2000 issue of the Journal of American Chiropractic Association (JACA).
As a result, some doctors of chiropractic are experiencing an increase in the number of patients with work-related injuries who are being referred to them by medical doctors.
"It''s more pronounced in the younger generation of medical doctors who may have been exposed to chiropractic and alternative health care during their training, though it is still mostly limited to low-back pain, with some for neck pain and chronic headaches," said Dr. Fiona Fletcher, a Minnesota doctor who has been in practice for five years. "I believe referrals for other conditions that chiropractic treats, such as chronic tendinitis and shoulder problems, leg pain, arm numbness or TMJ, will eventually follow as research showing chiropractic effectiveness is more widely broadcast."
A number of studies comparing medical and chiropractic care for work-related back injury offer promising results, according to the JACA article.
One study concluded that chiropractic offered consistent 2-to-1 superiority, and another found that treatment costs in cases managed by doctors of chiropractic increased only 12 percent between 1986 and 1989, while treatment costs in cases managed by medical doctors increased 71 percent during the same period.
Next to back injuries the most common injuries chiropractic doctors treat are postural-type strains to the neck and upper back and repetitive strain injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tendinitis, according to the article.
"There''s a lot of confusion out there especially with the medium-sized employers where the human resource manager also wears the hat of safety manager and accountant," said Fletcher. "They don''t fully understand their responsibilities as employers. I recently had a case where a safety manager from a plant did not know that his personnel were allowed to see chiropractors for work injuries."
by Virginia Sutcliffe