Chiropractors are a popular choice for Americans suffering low back pain. But at least one study indicates that they are the most expensive option, because of frequent follow-up visits, and are no more effective than orthopedic surgeons and primary c
Back pain is the second most common reason in the US for time off work, and is estimated to cost the nation $25 billion a year.
So it is not surprising that researchers from the University of North Carolina had one eye on the cash tills when evaluating the worth of the three options. Unfortunately, they were not able to include osteopaths in the study, as too few of them practice in the area of the state where the study was conducted.
The researchers enrolled similar numbers of urban and rural primary care physicians, chiropractors and orthopedic surgeons.
Although patients of the orthopedic surgeons and chiropractors reported the greatest satisfaction in attention and care, the outcome was pretty much the same for all three groups over a six-month period, the researchers concluded (New Eng J Med, October 5, 1995).