Harvard study offers hope for humanity or I like dramatic headlines.

I have some bad news and some good news; first the bad news because there is so much of it. The Affordable Care Act has created a significant rise in ER visits which was supposed to have the opposite affect according to its proponents. This was the result of people not being able to find physician’s because the wait time in doctor’s offices became up to two months. A side effect is that people requiring emergency attention declined because the percentage of non emergency people was clogging the ER. This changed patient outcomes, meaning that more people that were basically healthy were dying within a week of being discharged from the ER. They were discharged because the doctors were over worked and had less ability to find an actual bed for people to stay in at the hospital.

The leading causes of death were myocardial infarction, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and narcotic overdose, due mostly to musculoskeletal pain. Guess which cause of death I am going to focus on? The highest numbers of deaths were from emergency rooms that admitted the least number of patients. Keep in mind, big university hospital systems can afford to admit more patients than smaller hospitals in rural areas.

Another study discovered that elderly people functionally decline after a visit to the E.R. To be fair, besides monetary factors, hospitals are faced with more complex patients. I know my average patient has a lot of problems these days. Many of them because of what they have done to themselves by asking their doctors for so many medications that they saw on T.V.

It’s a double edge sword because if you do get admitted to the hospital, you face getting a hospital acquired infection known as nosocomial infections. This is a leading cause of death in general, not just these studies.

What is a consumer to do? I’m glad you asked. Probably the best thing you could do is live a healthy lifestyle and just avoid lifestyle diseases like diabetes and COPD (emphysema mentioned above).

Not so fast, what about that musculoskeletal pain that is getting so many people killed these days because the treatment for it is narcotics? Here comes the good news.

A study from Harvard has found that chiropractors are quite good at helping that issue without killing you. The next paragraph is their explanation of what I do.

Chiropractic adjustment or ““Spinal manipulation” is a generic term used for any kind of therapeutic movement of the spine, but used more precisely it is the application of quick but strong pressure on a joint between two vertebrae of the spine. That pressure twists or rotates the joint beyond its normal range of motion and causes a sharp cracking noise. That distinctive noise is believed to be caused by the breaking of a vacuum or the release of a bubble into the synovial fluid, the clear, thick fluid that lubricates the spinal and other joints.” The pressure in the joint cavity is decreased, as well as the neurological pain loop is interrupted following a chiropractic adjustment. The patient experiences greater range of motion and pain relief.


Most patients experience pain relief immediately after chiropractic adjustment. However the pain will remain for as long as the dysfunction in the joint is still present. Re-establishing proper biomechanics and function is a process that takes much longer than just relieving the pain.

Now for the part that I always bring up. Chiropractic has been relegated in the past to low back pain because we are good at treating it, but it is really about affecting the brain and our health depends upon our brain. According to Harvard, Chiropractic treatment for many other problems—including other musculoskeletal pain, headaches, asthma, carpal tunnel syndrome, and fibromyalgia—has also been studied. A recent review concluded that chiropractic spinal manipulation may be helpful for back pain, migraine, neck pain, and whiplash.

They say may be helpful, but if you speak with tens of millions of people that have actually undergone chiropractic treatment, they are not going to say maybe helpful, they will tell you a story about a miracle that changed their life.

Harvard Medical School Updated: March 18, 2016
Originally published: February 2015

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