Chiropractors jumping on chance to capitalize on meningitis scare

In wake of meningitis case some argue drugs, surgery used too often to treat back pain.

As the country continues to reel from a fungal meningitis outbreak — linked to a tainted steroid used to treat back pain — that has sickened 386 people in 19 states and killed 28, the medical industry is debating again about how back pain is treated.

The outbreak revived old arguments about whether back pain sufferers have become too dependent on drugs and surgeries as quick cures — and whether these treatments even work in the long run.

Back pain is the second most common neurological ailment in the United States behind headaches, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. More than a quarter of adults experienced lower back pain in the last three months, according to a recent report by the National Center for Health Statistics.

The chiropractic industry is using the outbreak to advocate for more conservative, less invasive approaches to treating back pain, including yoga, acupuncture and, of course, chiropractic care.

The Foundation for Chiropractic Progress in California issued a position paper after the outbreak criticizing what it calls an overuse of drugs to treat back pain. The group said the use of drugs creates addicts and masks pain rather than treating underlying conditions.

I have to take a moment… (DEEP BREATH)

I am NOT a fan of chiropractic. Why? Because it’s unscientific and I’m being kind, there, by not going into more stuff they pull. But to suggest that the meningitis outbreak is correlated to using too many meds is low. The cause of this outbreak was something COMPLETELY different. For chiropractors to take advantage of that reveals their business model – get patients in and keep them coming back.

Here is another story on “spine wellness” (WOW! That term is irritating and ridiculous) as two chiropractors give out free adjustments to the community for marketing purposes in Washington state this weekend.

  2 comments for “Chiropractors jumping on chance to capitalize on meningitis scare

  1. Rand
    November 6, 2012 at 11:20 AM

    Hmm. How many cases are there of injury/death due to “chiropratic” treatments compared to using medications? And how do the percentages on that work out? Anyone know where to get those numbers? (% of “bad outcomes” of medication for back pain compared to % of “bad outcomes” from chiropratic treatments for backpain?

  2. November 6, 2012 at 7:11 PM

    A lot of unnecessary low back pain treatment happens because patients are not patient. They expect an instant cure, pill or injection. Unfortunately, the medical system in the US has become a big business and is more interested in making money than telling patients what they really need to know. Back pain is common. The treatment for acute back pain is as follows:

    First, your back needs a period of rest. A short period of bed rest is in order.
    Second, get some pain relief with an over-the-counter medication.
    Third, place some ice on the areas that hurt.
    Fourth, after the bed rest and pain medicine have begun to give you some pain relief, and as soon as you notice any improvement, get moving.
    Fifth, address muscle spasm with rest, massage, and/or heat.
    Sixth, give your body a chance to heal. Takes 2-12 weeks.
    Seventh, gradually resume normal activities.
    Eighth, gradually strengthen your back. Some exercises will make it better; some will make it worse. Find out which are which. Don’t start them, yet. You have a couple weeks to figure out the difference.
    Ninth, eventually increase flexibility once the pain has resolved. Don’t overdo it.

    IF there is no improvement after two months, or there are progressive neurological deficits or intractable pain, then other treatments MAY be warranted. Steroid injections are statistically no better than other forms of placebos, such as:

    1. Any form of traction, including VAX-D, DRS, DRX, Inversion Therapy, Lordex, etc.
    2. Trigger point injections.
    3. Facet injections.
    4. Sacro-iliac injections.
    5. Acupuncture
    6. Paleo (or any other fad) diet
    7. Magnetic Therapy (of any type)
    8. Prolotherapy
    9. Reflexology
    10. Over the counter nutritional supplements
    11. Qigong
    12. Cupping

    Surgery is not indicated in 90-95% of cases. The surgeon needs to make a real case that he understands the cause of the pain and that the pain will go away with the surgery. There is a lot more info on my blog if you are interested.

    Bill Yancey, MD
    Whatyourdoctor dot b l o g s p o t dot c o m

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