Accessibility View Close toolbar

1310 Washington Street

Pella, IA 50219 US


Open mobile navigation


Health Update

Monday, May 21, 2018

Courtesy of Russell R Van Hemert DC

Study Shows Access to Chiropractic Care May Reduce Need for PCP Visits

The Tennessee Chiropractic Association supports collaborative care and recognizes the importance of providing access to cost-effective health care across patient populations.  Doctors of chiropractic (DCs) – who receive a minimum of seven years higher education – are specifically trained to diagnose, evaluate and provide non-pharmaceutical care and rehabilitation to individuals suffering from back and neck pain, headaches, neuro-musculoskeletal conditions and other related syndromes.  They are already playing a key role in the health care system, but research shows that increasing access to chiropractic care may help fill the provider gap as the demand for primary care physicians has risen sharply due to the steady growth of an aging population, general population growth and the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

Researchers performed a cross-sectional study of almost 18 million adults enrolled in Medicare from 2010 to 2011.  They were investigating whether access to chiropractic care could impact the use of PCP (Primary Care Practitioner) services.  With back and neck pain being 2 of the 5 most common diagnosis for disability, more people accessing health care through various private and government insurance programs,  and an aging population, there is concern about how this will affect the work load of PCPs, as well as the overall cost of health care.

Chiropractic became a covered service under Medicare in the 1970’s.  In recent years, the total spending on chiropractic care has increased significantly.  It almost doubled between 2006 and 2011.  In order to have an accurate understanding of that increase many factors must be considered, including how chiropractic care and medical care usage are related.  There is some evidence that more chiropractors are located in areas that also have a higher number of PCPs.  However, there is a lack of literature to show if chiropractic was being used in addition to or instead of PCP visits.  Therefore, the study objectives were:

  • to examine the relationship between the supply of chiropractic care and PCP services across the US;
  • to determine whether there is any association between the supply of chiropractic care and the number of visits to PCPs for back and/or neck pain
  • to estimate the impact of chiropractic care on national spending related to PCP visits.

US Medicare claims data from the Center for Medicaid & Medicare Services National Provider Identifier, Part B Carrier, MedPar, Inpatient, and Outpatient files was used for the study.  Of the nearly 18 million patients in the study, approximately 3 million made almost 6 million visits with a PCP for back or neck complaint.

After adjusting for other patient factors, it was apparent to the researchers that a higher supply of chiropractic care in an area was associated with fewer visits to PCPs for back and/or neck pain.  They found patients living in an area with high ratio of chiropractors were 15% less likely to seek a PCP visit for back pain and 10% less likely to seek a PCP visit for neck pain, when compared to those in living in areas with a low ratio of chiropractors per capita.

Based on this information, researchers “estimate that chiropractic care is associated with a reduction of 0.37 million visits to PCPs for back and/or neck pain at a total cost of $83.5 million”.  

Previous studies show private insurance beneficiaries with access to chiropractic care have lower health services costs than those without chiropractic benefits.  One study found that over only 5-10% of Medicare patients who received chiropractic care used other medical services concurrently indicating that chiropractic care may be used as a substitute for medical care for many patients with back and neck pain.  Previous research, together with this study, suggests that “chiropractic care among adults is associated with reduced spending on medicine and use of diagnostic tests in the population with private insurance. Among the Medicare population, chiropractic care may be beneficial in improving functional status among older adults.”

The data analysis also showed a significant variation in the number of both chiropractors (3.1 to 54.7 per 10,000 capita) and PCPs (18.9 to 237.1 per 10,000 capita) across the country.  When plotted on density maps, it is evident that while varied across the country, they distribution is overall “positively correlated.”

If you or a loved one is experiencing back and/or neck pain, talk to your local doctor of chiropractic.  Numerous studies and personal testimonies have shown chiropractic to be both safe and effective for many patients.  Studies such as this one, show it is also a cost-effective option.  For more information on chiropractic and what to expect at a chiropractic appointment or to find a doctor near your home or work, visit  #realignyourthinking   #chiropractic1st

SOURCE: “Regional Supply of Chiropractic Care and Visits to Primary Care Physicians for Back and Neck Pain” in Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine

Sign up now or call us at 641-628-2099 to make your appointment!

Office Hours

Our Regular Schedule


6:30 am

6:00 pm


8:00 am

5:00 pm


8:00 am

5:00 pm


8:00 am

6:00 pm


6:30 am

12:00 pm








Find us on the map


  • "I saw Doc when I was a senior at central college. He really took great care of me and the patients received great treatments. I just graduated chiropractic school 6 months ago and want to thank Doc for the motivation to pursue chiropractic school."
    Joel M. / Pella, IA

Featured Articles

Read about interesting topics

  • Back to School and Mental Wellness

    Summer is a subjectively fleeting season and school days are upon us once again. For children, this bittersweet time marks the completion of a period of relative freedom and the beginning of a new set of responsibilities. For adults, the onset of late summer and early fall signals yet another turn of ...

    Read More
  • Repetitive Motion Injuries

    A repetitive motion injury (or overuse injury) involves doing an action over and over again, as with a baseball pitcher throwing a baseball, a tennis player hitting a tennis ball, typing at a computer keyboard, and most notoriously, typing with your thumbs on the tiny keypad of your phone. It may be ...

    Read More
  • Left-Handers Day

    Left-Handers Day Left-Handers Day, celebrated on August 15th, was launched in 1992 by the Left-Handers Club, an organization based in the United Kingdom. Since then, Left-Handers Day has become a worldwide event and social media phenomenon. Around the world, approximately one in ten persons is left-handed. ...

    Read More
  • Peak Experiences

    Peak Experiences The American philosopher and naturalist Henry David Thoreau roamed far and wide over the hills and mountains of his native Massachusetts and neighboring New Hampshire. In his masterwork, "Walden," Thoreau famously stated that we must "reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical ...

    Read More
  • Dynamic Warm-ups

    In a common occurrence, you bend over to pick up the pencil you inadvertently dropped on the floor. Or you bend over to pick up the soap bar that has slipped through your fingers in the shower. Or you bend over to lift a bag of groceries out of your automobile trunk. These are all daily events. But on ...

    Read More
  • Summer Sports

    Summer Sports In the summertime, everyone's thoughts turn to the outdoors. We want to get out in the sun and have some fun. Some people do exercise outdoors, such as running, walking, and biking, all year long regardless of the weather.1 For others, summer's warmer temperatures make activity outside ...

    Read More
  • Wellness Gardens

    Wellness Gardens When time is spent in an office or indoors day in and day out, some can lose that connection to the outside world. And that loss of connection can lead to higher stress levels and more health ailments without even realizing it. But when that the gap between office life and outdoor life ...

    Read More
  • Smart Shoulders

    Our shoulder joints have the greatest range of motion of any of the musculoskeletal joints in our bodies. The shoulder joint is really two joints, the glenohumeral joint between the arm bone (humerus) and the shoulder blade (scapula) and the acromioclavicular joint between the acromion (a bony projection off the scapula) and the collarbone (clavicle). The glenohumeral joint is a ball-and-socket joint and the acromioclavicular joint is a gliding joint. ...

    Read More
  • A Book and Its Cover

    A book cover may not necessarily tell the whole story and may not accurately portray the nature of the contents within. Publishing companies pay high salaries to their marketing staff to create cover copy that will entice prospective buyers to make a purchase. But many times the book itself does not ...

    Read More
  • When Your Spine Is In Line

    Good spinal alignment means good biomechanical health. Essentially, your spine is the biomechanical center of your body. Your legs are connected to your spine via two large and strong pelvic bones. Your arms are connected to your spine via your shoulder blades, ribs, and numerous strong muscles and ligaments. ...

    Read More


Sign up for more articles