There’s a new trend happening in medicine. Today, six to seven of every ten new patients seen by a chiropractors have been referred there by a medical doctor, and this trend is expected to continue. Medical doctors want to help patients just as much as chiropractors, but when it comes to back, neck and headache issues, MD’s just don’t have a great deal of training in how to work with these areas.
How It Was
Here’s a typical scenario from times past. A person goes to the general practitioner because of back pain. The doctor will likely prescribe pain killers or muscle relaxants and tell the patient to come back if they don’t help. At the next visit, the doctor will follow his or her medical guidelines for treating back issues and order an MRI or X-ray along with prescribing another medication. If that doesn’t help, the patient will return a third time.
After seeing someone three times for the same issue that is not resolving, the doctor is frustrated because she wants to help the patient and the patient is also frustrated at having gone through 6 to 12 weeks of appointments, testing and medications with no results.
At this point, the doctor likely feels hamstringed about what to do with the patient. He might suggest physical therapy, but if this has already been tried the patient will probably not want to do it again. The MD could send the patient to a physiatrist, a doctor specializing in pain management that will inject various pain medications. These work well to minimize discomfort, but many people are not keen on the idea of having an epidural injection because they’ve hear horror stories, or they might simply be afraid of needles.
Once the patient has already tried medicine, therapy and possible injections, chiropractic care becomes a viable option since it’s something the patient hasn’t tried yet. So MD’s would utilize a chiropractor as a last resort when the case wasn’t serious enough for surgery.
How It’s Changed
In the last six to eight years, however, this has changed. Many medical doctors work alongside a chiropractor on a weekly or monthly basis and use chiropractic treatment as part of the front line effort to get patients better.
Instead of exhausting all their options and then finally recommending chiropractic, GP’s now generally give a three-week course of medications and if they don’t work will tell the patient to call a chiropractor directly to assess the issue. Today’s medical doctors are using chiropractic treatment as they would any prescription to help eliminate the cause of the problem instead of trying multiple doses of medications that may or may not work for the patient. This has led to positive results for both patients and chiropractors.
Now chiropractors can work with medical doctors to be one of the first implementations of a “cure” that prevents patients from going through all the other options. If chiropractic doesn’t work, the patient can move on and try other medical alternatives, but more often than not it helps tremendously.
Cooperating In The New Health Care System
With the looming health care changes, we’ll soon have ten million more insured people needing care without having added any additional doctors to the mix. Think about how long people have to wait now to see their doctors. Adding that many more people into the health care system means we may become like Canada where people have to wait months just to see their GP.
Currently, there’s no plan on how these people are going to get processed, and this will affect both the people who already have insurance and the doctors that need to see them.
If chiropractic care can cut down the medical profession’s workload, this could help. If medical doctors are trained to understand how chiropractic works and partner with a local chiropractor, they may be able to send patients directly to chiropractic care instead of cycling them through five, six or seven visits. This will help doctors to process the boatload of newly insured and also better serve their patients.
Virginia Beach chiropractor Dr. James Maggio knows the value of chiropractic care used in conjunction with general medical care. If you have been struggling with a back, neck or other issue for too long with no resolution, contact him for an evaluation.