CHIROPRACTIC HYGIENE CARE
Chiropractic was founded on the philosophy that given good nutrition and exercise and a freely functioning nervous system the human body has the capacity to maintain a healthy state of being. Through a feedback mechanism with the spinal nerves the brain directs and controls all the functions of the body. When there is dysfunction in the spine then there is interference with the brain and the body tissues ability to communicate with each other. When this communication system breaks down then malfunction of the body tissues follows and eventually disease may set in. Of course there are exceptions to this philosophy when considering heredity and genetic conditions, but even these people have spines and their overall health will suffer if spinal interference occurs.
The chiropractic philosophy is bolstered by scientific research, a few of these studies discussed in the following are good examples. A few years ago the RAND Organization performed a 3 year study which involved chiropractic care in people 75 years old and older. This study showed that those under chiropractic care had better overall health and higher quality of life. The chiropractic users were less likely to have been hospitalized or to have used a nursing home, had fewer chronic conditions, were able to be more mobile and able to exercise more vigorously, and less likely to use prescription drugs.
In 1999 Chicago based independent physicians association Alternative Medicine, Inc. (AMI) in conjunction with Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Illinois launched a wellness based model with over 800,000 participating patients. In this model the participants could chose between a chiropractor or a medical doctor for their gatekeeper portal of entry. The patients choosing the chiropractic gatekeeper were encouraged to receive as much chiropractic treatment as possible and most received frequent maintenance care, when necessary referrals to their MDs or specialists were not discouraged. After just 2 ½ years Blue Cross/Blue Shield reported that the chiropractor gatekeeper group resulted in a 66% decrease in total medical expenses when compared to the groups with MDs as the gatekeepers. More specifically, when compared to the traditional medicine groups, AMI’s performance of a 66% decrease is driven by a 69% reduction in hospitalization, a 68% reduction in outpatient procedures, and a 56% decrease in pharmaceutical use.
In 1992 The Journal of American Health Policy published a MEDSTAT study that analyzed a data base of almost 400,000 chiropractic patients. Their findings revealed that health plans that had limited or no chiropractic coverage had the highest costs per patient. Broader coverage of chiropractic services resulted in 35% lower hospital admission rates, 42% lower inpatient payments, and 23% total health care costs.
Another series of interesting experiments bolster some of the chiropractic tenets that a freely moving spine will remain healthier vs. a spine whose joints are fixed into a jammed position (fixated).
The Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics conducted research on rats in which their spines were mechanically fixated with a special yoke for various periods of time (one to 16 weeks) then removed the yoke. The rat spines were then dissected and their spines studied under microscope. The researchers found that even in these relatively short periods of time the joint surfaces of the fixated vertebrae demonstrated degenerative changes and that the severity of these changes was directly proportional to the length of time of fixation. Trends towards improvement of the joint surfaces were found after removing the yokes and re-establishing free movement.
The window of opportunity for improvement wasn’t infinite, however, as there was a threshold of time of fixation when the joints became stiffer and restoration of motion required more frequent treatment. This allowed the rate of deterioration to be retarded, but it was still possible with some cases (although more difficult) to bring the joints back to a normal state. Thus, to prevent spinal joint deterioration the time threshold of joint fixation should not be allowed to pass, but in the event that the threshold has passed regular chiropractic care at least slows down the rate of deterioration.
These are just a few of the studies that are reinforcing the value of chiropractic wellness care. The notion that regular chiropractic care is good for the health of the spine, as well as the health of the entire body appears to be increasingly backed up by scientific research. It is the patient’s decision whether to choose relief care or corrective care; and whether to follow up with supportive or maintenance care.