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Should I see a Chiropractor or Orthopedist/Orthopedic Surgeon for Low Back Pain?

I feel that all patients with pain of musculoskeletal origin should be active in their care.  Part of being active in your care is to have knowledge about your treatment plan and alternative care options.   Frankly, if you have low back pain and see an orthopedist, you must understand one thing: He/she makes their living by doing surgery.  You are well-advised not to see an orthopedist as your first option.   Low back pain and disc herniation is very rarely a surgical emergency.

What you need to know:  Did you know that it was published in a peer-reviewed medical journal that patients under Chiropractic care are less likely to undergo lumbar surgery

A recent study in Spine, a peer-reviewed medical journal, found a pretty convincing reason to see a chiropractor for low back pain.  The authors identified a relationship between patients being chiropractic care and the avoidance of lumbar spine surgery.  This study is just one of the illustrations that support why you should consider the utilization of chiropractic care as your first treatment option for low back pain.

 Noteworthy findings of the Spine study (published in the Dec. 12, 2012 issue):

 •Patients under age 35, women, Hispanics and patients whose first provider was a chiropractic physician had decreased odds of lumbar spine surgery;

 •Of patients who first saw a surgeon (orthopedist, orthopedic or neurosurgeon), nearly 43 percent of patients had surgery;

 •Of patients who first saw a chiropractor or chiropractic physician, only 1.5 percent of those ended up having surgery.

This study illustrates why both patients and primary care physicians alike should begin treatment for low back pain, etc. with chiropractic care before resorting to more costly and invasive treatment. 

Pain of musculoskeletal origin, such as low back pain, sciatica and neck pain from car accident injuries, are often correctable without medications, expensive and often clinically unnecessary advanced imaging that often is a pre-cursor to surgeries (which as we see in this study are likely not needed).