Research/studies Workers' compensation

Chiropractic care for low back pain limited when employers and insurers pick medical providers: study

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Cambridge, MA — Few workers receive chiropractic care for low back pain in states where employers or insurers control the selection of medical providers, a recent study of workers’ compensation data shows.

Using the organization’s Detailed Benchmark/Evaluation database, researchers from the Workers Compensation Research Institute reviewed more than 2 million claims from 28 states. The claims cover injuries that occurred from October 2015 through September 2017 and include detailed medical transactions through March 2019.

A dozen of the states had fewer than 5% of low back pain claims include chiropractic care: Nevada, Michigan, Tennessee, Virginia, Missouri, Indiana, Florida, New Jersey, North Carolina, Georgia, Arkansas and South Carolina. All but one of those states – Michigan – allows employers or insurers to select medical providers.


Meanwhile, Minnesota was the lone state for which more than 30% of low back pain claims included chiropractic care. That percentage exceeded 20 in three states: Wisconsin, California and New York. Delaware, Massachusetts and Maryland had the next highest percentages of low back pain claims to include chiropractic care – each above 10%. All seven of these states allow workers to choose their own medical providers.

“Claims with care provided exclusively by chiropractors were associated with lower costs and shorter duration of temporary disability than a set of claims with similar characteristics where care was exclusively provided by non-chiropractic providers,” a WCRI press release states.

WCRI President and CEO John Ruser added, “This study will be helpful for policymakers and stakeholders who are interested in reevaluating the role of chiropractors, especially those who have been adopting evidence-based practices and contributing to cost-effective care.”

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