Design and Setting: Patients could be referred or self-referred to the Spinal Pain Unit at Townsville General Hospital.
Interventions: Patient management consists of chiropractic manipulative therapy, excluding rotational manipulation of the cervical spine; needle acupuncture treatment and medical treatment.
Results: One thousand four hundred and sixty five patients (783 males : 682 females) presented to the Spinal Pain Unit. Medical referral accounted for 49% of patients, chiropractic for 3%, osteopathic for 2%, physiotherapy for 0.4%, podiatry for 0.4% and psychology for 0.2%. The remaining 45% were self-referred or referred for medicolegal consultation and examination. Ninety-eight percent (98%) of patients presented with chronic pain (>13 weeks duration) and only 2% with acute pain (<7 days). Following extensive investigations, 1,229 (83.9%) patients presented with identifiable pathology or osseous or soft tissue anomalies. One hundred and seventy-five patients (12%) were referred for further opinions. There was only one significant complication out of 1,465 patients treated, representing only 0.068% of patients, and 0.007% of the total of 14,187 examinations and treatments administered.
Conclusion: The results show that a hospital-based specialised spinal pain syndrome unit is useful for medical practitioners who wish to refer spinal pain syndrome patients for specialised examination and management. In addition, concerns regarding the safety of chiropractic treatment are unfounded.
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