Objective: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the relationship between procedures and care patterns in back pain episodes by analyzing health insurance claims.
Methods: We performed a retrospective cohort study of insurance claims data from a single Fortune 500 company. The 3 care patterns we analyzed were initial spinal manipulative therapy, delayed spinal manipulative therapy, and no spinal manipulative therapy. The 3 procedures analyzed were imaging studies, injection procedures, and back surgery. We considered "escalated care" to be any claims with diagnostic imaging, injection procedures, or back surgery. Modified-Poisson regression modeling was used to determine relative risk of escalated care.
Results: There were 83 025 claims that were categorized into 10 372 unique patient first episodes. Spinal manipulative therapy was present in 2943 episodes (28%). Initial spinal manipulation was present in 2519 episodes (24%), delayed spinal manipulation was present in 424 episodes (4%), and 7429 (72%) had no evidence of spinal manipulative therapy. The estimated relative risk, adjusted for age, sex, and risk score, for care escalation (eg, imaging, injections, or surgery) was 0.70 (95% confidence interval 0.65-0.75, P < .001) for initial spinal manipulation and 1.22 (95% confidence interval 1.10-1.35, P < .001) for delayed spinal manipulation with no spinal manipulation used as the reference group.
Conclusion: For claims associated with initial episodes of back pain, initial spinal manipulative therapy was associated with an approximately 30% decrease in the risk of imaging studies, injection procedures, or back surgery compared with no spinal manipulative therapy. The risk of imaging studies, injection procedures, or back surgery in episodes in the delayed spinal manipulative therapy group was higher than those without spinal manipulative therapy.
Author keywords: Spinal Manipulation; Low Back Pain; Injections; Radiology; Chiropractics; Therapeutics; Orthopedic Surgery
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