Previewing the breakthrough article “Impact of Back Pain in the Workplace” by Foot Levelers Chairman and CEO Kent S. Greenawalt – how chiropractors can partner with employers to provide more effective and affordable healthcare.
As chiropractors we have the opportunity to treat a myriad of health conditions. On a regular basis we serve patients who are complaining of neck pain, shoulder pain, headaches, hip pain, knee pain and the list goes on. What is so interesting about the many ailments that we can help patients with is the relationship that all of the body parts have with each other. You have observed how the feet are the body’s foundation and dysfunction of the foot’s three arches can set the body up for a whole host of pain and problems at the time of patient presentation or down the road.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the cases of lower back pain that stream into our clinics. It has been said that lower back pain is the chiropractor’s “bread and butter”. It’s certainly hard to argue with that since it seems to be THE area of the body that chiropractors are most famous for treating. People who have little experience with chiropractic seem to know that we are “back doctors”, although we are much more. Through our care model, we can be our patient’s strategic partner in proactive health and total body wellness, a unique role that other providers cannot replicate.
From our early days in chiropractic college, we are exposed to just how prevalent lower back pain is in our society. That understanding appears to be reinforced the longer we are in clinical practice. Most of us can recall from memory the statistic that 80% of people will develop lower back pain at some time in their life.
In 2023, the United Nations estimated the United States’ population to be 340,000,000 people. That is a lot of people who can develop lower back pain or could have it right now. Symptoms can be as simple as a localized dull ache to a full blown sharp, radiating pain. It can be intermittent, or unrelenting to the point where it impacts basic life activities.
For this discussion, we are going to focus on lower back pain in the workplace.
Back problems are among patients’ most frequent complaints to their primary doctors, and a common cause of missed work and decreased productivity.
Often, patients have already consulted a primary care provider, orthopedist, physical therapist or some other healthcare provider before they finally try chiropractic. Patients frequently describe being pulled into this “black hole” of medical treatments with medications, procedures and surgeries that end up not working as well as they had hoped.
For both the employer and the employees, it is important to understand that there is a better option for dealing with back pain. This is where chiropractic comes in.
The Value of Non-Invasive Care:
An invasive procedure is defined as a medical procedure which breaks the skin in some way. This is a huge category and includes just about all major surgery and many diagnostic tests. Spinal surgery and epidural steroid injections fall under here. It’s also worth mentioning that certain medications often prescribed or utilized within health care include opioids, acetaminophen and NSAIDS.
The aforementioned procedures are frequently accompanied by significant side effects. Invasive procedures and medications may be required in certain instances, but these procedures are costly, come with inherent risks, and often do not provide a long term solution for the patient’s pain and their overall health.
Non-invasive procedures are becoming more common. These are defined as any medical procedure which does not break the skin. These can include imaging studies (X-rays, ultrasound, MRI, and CT scans) but also conservative treatment that does not require incision into the body or the removal of tissue. Chiropractic, acupuncture and massage are examples.
More recent information points to chiropractic and non-invasive care being more cost- effective for employers and consumers; gets people better and back to work faster and improves overall satisfaction and happiness.
As chiropractors, we can address foot alignment as it impacts balance, gait, weightbearing and many other daily functions of the body. By assessing the feet for conditions such as overpronation, we can painlessly and non-invasively restore the proper position of the three arches that comprise the plantar vault through the use of Foot Levelers custom flexible orthotics. Foot Levelers are the only orthotics that support all three arches.
This method is backed by proven science and has been shown to be effective by millions of doctors and their patients around the world for over 70 years. A study showed that Foot Levelers custom orthotics reduced back pain by 34.5%, and improved function by 32.3% when combined with chiropractic care.1
Employers and their workers can benefit from non-invasive, chiropractic care.
Health care costs in general continue to rise each year. The average consumer has seen their deductibles and copays increase while their covered services seem to be shrinking. The same thing has been happening for employers providing insurance for their employees, especially in the last few years. Cost and bottom line are always on an employer’s mind. Larger companies have seen the biggest increases in healthcare costs because of their sheer number of people they employ.
However, when you think of employers, don’t just put the spotlight on the large to medium corporations or professional sports teams. According to Forbes Magazine’s “2023 Forbes Advisor”, 99.9% of businesses across the US are small businesses (33.2 million small businesses). Nearly half of all U.S. employees are employed by a small business (61.7 million workers).2 Thus we have a lot of workers who are getting hurt who work for companies that may not have a big budget for health care plans or human resource employees who know where to send them or how to get them taken care of properly. The chiropractic community is in a unique position to give them the help they need.
Employers are at a crossroads because they understand the trend of rising insurance costs. This phenomena is simply not sustainable so it’s time for any size business to shift their thinking. Back pain is a pervasive and frequent problem in the workplace, and it is one of the major factors of absenteeism.
The key is to offer a means of treating the patient that allow them to heal as quickly as possible while keeping costs down. Since traditional medical options have had a less than stellar success rate with accomplishing either of those, it’s time to utilize non-invasive therapies as a first line of treatment and intervention.
Employers are seeking to add point solutions to their benefits strategies.
A point solution is a service within a benefits program focused on a specific condition that fills a gap in the care options offered. They are provided by vendors who are screened, monitored and evaluated to ensure standards of performance and outcomes, as well as provide ROI to the company. By bringing in this service, employers can enhance their core health benefits program and make a real impact in employee health. Employers of all sizes can take advantage of this opportunity.
Of all the non-invasive options, employers can most utilize chiropractic care and custom foot stabilization to help their workers feel better faster, successfully reduce costs of medical care for everyone, and have healthier, happier associates who miss less work. Plus the employees will be more productive when they feel better. In a perfect world, not only would we want to help injured workers feel better faster but helping reduce the risk of future injuries would be another level of health care that could be within our grasp.
Chiropractors can work with employers to meet cost-saving and worker health goals.
Chiropractors have a lot to offer any size company in treating their workers. Here are some benefits to keep in mind:
- Chiropractic care treats the cause of the ailment and gets the patient better faster with less permanent residuals.
- Chiropractic care is more cost effective overall (no expensive surgeries, lengthy recoveries, drug prescriptions, risk of addiction to meds, etc.).
- Patients learn how to take care of themselves with home exercises and home care.
- Chiropractors can teach patients about workplace ergonomics that include standing, sitting, lifting and how to perform job specific tasks safely.
- Healthy patients utilize less medical services than unhealthy patients.
- Ongoing chiropractic care empowers patients to take an active role in proactively managing their health.
Now is the time for us to communicate with employers and companies of all sizes to educate them on the effectiveness of chiropractic. Many people in the world aren’t familiar with the benefits of chiropractic care. The employers, human resources or people of influence often have little clue what chiropractic is or even how to find chiropractors.
Opportunities abound almost everywhere you look in the area of the country that you practice. Anywhere you see a business, they can likely use your help. Do you have manufacturing facilities and restaurants in your area? Does your community have a local sports team? Is there a warehouse with workers nearby? Thinking of the companies in your surrounding practice area is a great first step. Businesses that are large enough ( i.e. national chains) can bring in chiropractic services for one or multiple locations.
More and more companies are offering on-site or near-site clinics, enabling workers and the family members under their plan to get convenient care covered by the employer. If a chiropractor is part of this program, their clinic could be this “near-site” or “off-site”. So not only could you be treating the patient, but that patient’s whole family too. This opens up more opportunities for care (kids sports physicals, prenatal care, etc.).
I am really trying to get your creative juices flowing in your mind so you can start thinking about how you can get involved in bringing chiropractic to a company in your geographic area that you might want to get involved with. Help them get to the end goal, improved safety and productivity, cost-savings, improved health outcomes, less turnover.
The Call to Action:
We have discussed the prevalence of lower back pain in the United States. We also looked at the importance of chiropractic as a treatment and how important it is for chiropractors to meet influencers of any size company so that they can provide health care for them. So what can you do to facilitate this and get yourself positioned with these companies? It’s as easy as 1-2-3!
- Click this link for Foot Levelers Chairman and CEO Kent S. Greenawalt’s information-packed article “Impact of Back Pain in the Workplace”. It is being released in the “Journal of Compensation Benefits”. This article expands upon what we touched on in this blog post. It is chock full of statistics, factoids, references and updated information about rising health care costs, failures of traditional medical treatment, the cost effectiveness of non-invasive health care and chiropractic’s important role.
- Click this link for the “How to Guide” for implementing ideas and strategies for you to reach out to local companies, human resources and decision makers and communicate how your chiropractic services can benefit their workers and overall bottom line.
- Follow Through! Reading the information is great. But it won’t help you if you do nothing with it. Combining the “Impact of Back Pain in the Workplace” article with the How to Guide will give you the blueprint and confidence you need to go out and seize this opportunity!
1 Cambron JA, Dexheimer JM, Duarte M, Freels S. Shoe Orthotics for the Treatment of Chronic Low Back Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2017 Sep;98(9):1752-1762. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2017.03.028. Epub 2017 Apr 30. PMID: 28465224.
2 U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy
Dr. Kevin M. Wong, DC is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, and a 1996 Summa Cum Laude graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic West. He has been in practice for over 25 years and is the owner of Orinda Chiropractic & Laser Center in Orinda, CA.
As a member of Foot Levelers Speakers Bureau since 2004, Dr. Wong travels the country speaking on extremity and spinal adjusting. See upcoming events with Dr. Wong and other Foot Levelers speakers at footlevelers.com/seminars. Check out his monthly blogs with proven practice tips to help you achieve optimal patient outcomes.