To See Is To Know, Not To See Is To Guess, and We Wont Guess With Your Health... Or Will We Have To?
This Monday morning started with an email from the Alberta College of Chiropractors and Associates, stating that the fight we had been actively engaged in as a profession in Alberta had been lost. At least for now.
As part of the dismantling of the Master's agreement between legislation and Alberta Doctor's, there were many changes made to the healthcare system, with the excuse of a limited budget being the driving force.
Though none of these changes were done for the betterment of patient care, one change in particular highlights a complete lack of long term understanding, and a complete lack of concern for both the Doctors within that profession, and the hundreds of thousands of Albertan's who are under their care. This is the revoking of the rights of chiropractors to send patient's for publicly funded and necessary x-ray imaging.
Primary Care Physicians
In Canada, chiropractors are classified as Primary Care Physicians- this means that a chiropractor can be your primary doctor, or family doctor. Do to our extensive training in all aspects of medicine (despite what you may have been told), we have been a huge asset to the current burdens of our over populated healthcare system, because we can act as primary triage funnels. Over 50% of visits to medical doctors and hospitals involve pain that is originating from a musculoskeletal origin, such as severe back pain, neck pain, headaches, leg pain, shoulder pain, or any other variations of the above. Medical Doctors and hospitals do not have effective care or treatments in place for the majority of these cases, which results in bogged down waiting rooms and medi clinics, and an over prescription of pain medications.
Not only is chiropractic care the most effective (confirmed by many studies) current method of healthcare in treating and managing pain related conditions, it is also the safest and fastest. Having chiropractors take over some of the patient volume from hospitals and medi clinics as first point of contact doctors has not only made a huge dent in the current opioid crisis and over prescription, but also helped a substantial amount of people become pain free without undergoing intrusive and debilitating surgeries. In a 2012 issue of Spine Magazine, a study showed that the chances of undergoing spinal surgery when visiting a chiropractor as your first point of contact was 1.5%, compared to those who were referred to a surgeon for their first point of contact in which 42.7% had surgery.
Extensive and Specific Training
Outside of the effectiveness at treating many of the patient's that find themselves in hospitals and medi clinics, chiropractors are also extensively trained to look for signs and symptoms of other underlying conditions that may be present, and to refer to the appropriate doctors or specialists to evaluate them further. Part of this training is our extensive understanding of anatomy and physiology, and our specific training in radiology.
As a chiropractor we are trained extensively on radiology. We use x-rays more than any other profession to not only screen for pre-existing conditions such as cancer, metabolic diseases, hiatal hernias, cardiovascular conditions such as abdominal aortic aneurism or stenosis, etc, but we also use them to evaluate areas of the spine that are under high stress and use them to guide our chiropractic adjustments. I will get into arthritis extensively in a later post; however, arthritis is the NATURAL process of bone based on Wolf's Law to change and adapt based on the pressure placed upon it. The assumption that you get arthritis because you are old is completely incorrect; you get arthritis because a joint has been under improper amounts of stress for such a long enough period of time that extra bone has grown in an attempt to stabilize it. The fact that it presents when you are older is because the effects of that stress on the joint build over time, but this is something that a chiropractor can SEE starting in your X-rays and begin adjusting early on to stop the progression of that arthritis by changing the stress on that joint. Again, not an opinion, but a fact based on Wolf's Law.
That is just one of the many ways that X-rays guide our care and why the decision to take away our rights to send for publicly funded imaging is extremely short sighted. But what does this decision mean for you?
What Does This Decision Mean For You?
Well, the unfortunate truth is that this decision is going to lead to higher costs for the patients, delayed care (if we have to refer patient's to medical doctors who then will send them for X-rays), and an increase in the risk of treatment. Many chiropractic offices do not use X-rays as a main part of their analysis. This, to me, places too much trust in our palpation skills and adds a huge element of guess work to what we do. The good thing is that even using this method of analysis, chiropractic is still very effective and still very safe; however, it takes a lot of the precision out of it. Because I am so personally invested in the absolute best, and specific care for my patient's, I will be investigating over the next few weeks the proposed costs to patients to receive a basic X-ray set, and work with the private clinics in my area to attempt to broker a deal in which I can still send my patient's out to get the screening and exams they need at a reasonable cost.
This is, and will be a work in progress, and at this current moment I have no idea what the proposed costs will be, but I want to ensure all my existing, and future patient's that just because the legislation is cutting the budgets, I will not allow this to result in a lower quality of care for you. I have, and always will put the safety of my patient's as my top priority, and will do everything in my power to continue to deliver the highest level of care that is personalized, effective, and informative.