The success rate of lower back pain treatment in this country could be improved if health providers worked more closely together, according to the New Zealand Chiropractors’ Association.

New research published in the Spine Journal late last year found that patients with lower back pain enjoy significant improvement with chiropractic care, but little to no improvement with usual medical care. Despite these results significant numbers of GPs still do not refer patients to chiropractors.

‘The study found that after 16 weeks of care the patients referred to medical doctors saw almost no improvement in their condition, were likely to still be taking pain medication and saw no benefit with added physical therapy and yet were unlikely to be referred to a chiropractor,’ explains Dr. Hayden Thomas, chiropractor and spokesperson for the New Zealand Chiropractors’ Association.

Although this was a US study, a similar pattern often exists in New Zealand. ‘Health providers should be working together in the best interests of the New Zealand public, rather than isolating themselves from each other’ he adds. ‘Researchers have found that lower back pain treatment which includes chiropractic spinal manipulation can result in greater improvement than usual care provided by a family doctor. However, some medical doctors seem unwilling to consult with other health care professionals when it could prove to be beneficial to the patient’s overall well being. That’s a worrying trend and will go no way towards improving the lower back pain statistics in this country, which are already causing a great deal of suffering and costing taxpayers millions of dollars.’ Dr. Thomas hopes that continued research into the positive effects of chiropractic care on lower back pain and other health outcomes will encourage medical practitioners to refer patients to a registered chiropractor.

‘We shouldn’t be working against each other,’ says Dr. Thomas. ‘Both medical practitioners and chiropractors have skills that can improve a patient’s well being and help them lead a healthier, happier life free of lower back pain. The sooner health care providers start collaborating, the sooner we will be able to make a dent in those lower back pain numbers in New Zealand.’

For further information on the New Zealand Chiropractors’ Association visit www.chiropractic.org.nz.