January 2005


  • More Americans See Non-Medical Care as Cost Saver
  • Naproxen Linked to Heart Disease, FDA Issues Warning
  • More Americans Take Prescription Drugs
  • Chiropractic Care Can Help With Ear Infections
  • US Releases New Dietary Guidelines
  • Case Study of Postsurgical Cauda Equina Syndrome and Chiropractic

More Americans See Non-Medical Care as Cost Saver

The above headline comes from a feature article in the January 6, 2005 issue of Investors Business Daily. The article starts off by stating that many consumers traditionally used non-medical forms of healthcare, they termed alternative care, when dissatisfied with traditional medical care. However, they note that more people are choosing non-medical forms of health care because of the cost savings.

According to a survey released in December 2004 from the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC), about 6 million Americans turned to, what they called “complementary and alternative medicine”, known as CAM, to treat conditions such as chronic pain and depression because conventional medicine was too pricey. The article noted that the 6 million represented about 13% of all those who used non-medical care, did so mainly for the cost savings.

Health System Change (HSC) health researcher Ha Tu commented, “With health-care costs definitely continuing to outpace inflation and wage growth, more and more people will find conventional medicine unaffordable.” He continued, “We'll find the 6 million number growing and more people turning to CAM because they see it as an inexpensive alternative.”

The study found that those using non-medical care because of cost concerns were four times as likely to be uninsured as those not influenced by price. They also noted that these people are more likely to be in the lower income ranges. However, the story did note that the use of non-medical care is growing anyway among all users.

Last year they estimated that consumers spent $54 billion on non-medical care. HSC research director Patrick Rea, further explained that $54 billion, $34 billion went to all types of alternative services such as chiropractic, naturopathy, osteopathy and massage therapy, up from $25.5 billion in 1999.


Naproxen Linked to Heart Disease, FDA Issues Warning

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning to users of the over-the-counter pain reliever Naproxen Monday after federal researchers found an increased number of heart attacks and strokes among users. According to stories in the December 21, 2004 CNN.com and the Medscape Medical news of the same date, Naproxen is the latest of the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that have now been linked to an increase in cardiovascular problems.

This latest warning came after a study sponsored by the National Institute on Aging testing whether Celebrex or Naproxen would reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease was halted when researchers noted a 50% greater incidence in heart attacks and strokes among participants who were taking Naproxen.

Because of this the FDA now urged users to contact their doctors and to avoid taking the drug for longer than 10 days. Helmut Schdefers, a spokesman for Bayer Healthcare AG, stated, “We are in agreement with FDA regulators that people taking Aleve should consult their doctors and avoid taking the drug for more than 10 days. Aleve is particularly disturbing because it's an over-the-counter drug.”

David Graham, FDA drug safety researcher and whistleblower, told CNN, “Over-the-counter drugs are supposed to be the ones that are the absolutely safest.” Graham then questioned the FDA by saying, “I think this asks the larger question, 'Why has FDA not done the job it needs to do to protect America from unsafe drugs?' " Graham said in his 20 years at the FDA, "safety has been at the back of the bus, if it's on the bus at all."


More Americans Take Prescription Drugs

According to a report, "Health, United States 2004," from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more Americans are taking prescription drugs than ever. Just a decade ago the report noted that 39% of Americans were on at least one prescription drug. As of the year 2000, that number has jumped to 44%. Additionally, the report noted that seventeen percent are on three or more medications.

Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association notes, "The fact that almost half of Americans are using prescription drugs is pretty astounding." He continued, “Our pharmaceuticals are playing a much larger role in our health care than they were 10, 20 years ago."

Two reasons noted in the report for the possible increase are an increase in insurance coverage and direct to consumer advertising by the drug companies. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC) private health insurance covered nearly half of prescription drug costs in 2002, up from 25% in 1990.

The CDC report noted that the increases were most noted with cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antidepressants and blood-glucose/sugar regulators between 1996 and 2002. The CDC report also showed that usage of anti-depressants almost tripled since the late 1980s. Presently, 10 percent of women and 4 percent of men are on drug therapy for what was termed a debilitating depression. Three times as many whites took antidepressants as blacks or Mexicans, according to the CDC.

The report also noted that the older Americans get, the more dependant they become on prescription medications. In the age group of people 65 and over, 84 percent take at least one prescription medication, up from 74 percent a decade earlier. Additionally, nearly half the elderly take three or more prescriptions, up from 35 percent ten years ago.

Chiropractic Care Can Help With Ear Infections

The above headline comes from the January 2005 issue of the magazine Up & Coming. This article tells the story of a 13 year old girl named May Beth, who had suffered from ear infections most of her life. Her father, was the author of the article. He started off by describing May Beth’s history and explained that by the time his daughter was 13 months old, she'd had 11 ear infections. He explained that each time she was given an antibiotic which caused the ear infection to go away after about a week, but it would soon return.

After a while May Beth was even give antibiotics as a preventative. However this did not work and her father began to get concerned about the effects all these antibiotics would have on his daughter. As matters got worse May Beth’s father grew more concerned. He stated, “I became desperate for an end to her misery. I was concerned about how these chronic ear infections might be affecting her developing speech and how the antibiotics might be affecting her natural immunity. As a result, I arranged for her to have a myringectomy, a type of surgery in which tiny tubes are placed in the child's ear to prevent fluid buildup. While I believed the operation was May Beth's best option, I felt terrible about having her undergo a general anesthetic and surgery at such a young age. There are no words to describe the feeling I had watching my smiling baby girl dressed in a tiny hospital gown wave back at me as she was being wheeled in a little red wagon into the operating room.”

Unfortunately, even after the surgery May Beth’s ear infections didn't stop. Less than two months later, she was once again taking antibiotics. Soon after it was suggested that she have a second surgery. Her father noted, “I just couldn't bear it. I was at my wit's end.”

Then coincidentally, May Beth’s father had just started chiropractic school and had heard that chiropractic care had helped many children with chronic ear infections. He then took May Beth to a family chiropractor who began adjusting May Beth. The results were wonderful. May Beth’s father described the events by saying, “Since that time, she's had one ear infection that lasted less than two days with no medication. Her overall health has been excellent - and she can talk up a storm!”

He summed up his comments in this article by explaining, “Chiropractic adjustment may resolve the ear infections without the need for surgery. Our bodies - young and old - are wonderfully made to take care of many of the problems we encounter. A correct alignment of the spine maximizes the body's potential to take care of itself.”



US Releases New Dietary Guidelines

With the recent emphasis on obesity and the new studies linking it to poor health the US government released a new set of dietary guidelines on January 12, 2004. The new guidelines call for Americans to reduce their calorie intake and to exercise for 30 to 90 minutes a day.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson stated, “Two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, and more than 50 percent of us Americans do not get the recommended amount of physical activity, so the 2005 guidelines emphasize physical activity and calorie control more than ever before.”

The guidelines did make some specific recommendations, those included eating whole grains, reducing fat intake to less than 30% of total intake, and eating whole foods as opposed to processed foods. Additionally the guidelines indicated that we should get between 30 and 60 minutes of moderate exercise each day. However, to lose weight we should increase that to between 60 and 90 minutes each day.

Ann Veneman, US Agriculture Secretary was optimistic about the new guidelines, “Americans are interested in leading healthier lives, but they want credible, consistent and coherent information to help them make the best possible choices.”

Margo Wootan, nutrition policy director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a health advocacy group was a little more pessimistic that people will follow the government’s guidelines. She stated, “It has been a big problem in the past that basically, the federal government has published a booklet and then crossed their fingers and hoped that Americans ate better. That's clearly not been enough. What we need is significant investment in programs and changes in policy and the food environment that help Americans to eat better and watch their weight.”


Case Study of Postsurgical Cauda Equina Syndrome and Chiropractic

From the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (JMPT) comes a case study of a 35-year-old woman with cauda equina syndrome helped by chiropractic care. The case study was published in the November-December 2004 Issue of the peer-reviewed research periodical.

In this evidence-based case report, the woman presented with complaints of midback pain, low-back pain, buttock pain, saddle anesthesia, and bladder and bowel incontinence, for a period of 6 months. She had undergone emergency surgery for acute cauda equina syndrome due to lumbar disc herniation, six months earlier. The cauda equina (CE) is formed by nerve roots at the end of the spinal cord inside the spinal column. Cauda equina syndrome (CES) is when there is low back pain, unilateral or usually bilateral sciatica, sensory disturbances, bladder and bowel dysfunction, and variable lower extremity motor and sensory loss.

The patient eventually began chiropractic care and received a series of adjustments. After only 4 adjustments, the patient reported full resolution of midback, low back, and buttock pain. After an additional 4 visits the patient had not yet seen improvement in her neurologic symptoms. However, even though this patient had received surgery, there were no adverse effects noted. This case study did not look at possible results beyond the initial 8 visits. The study noted that a review of previous studies showed that 2.3% to 12% of chiropractic patients have a history of at least one prior spinal surgery.

The conclusion of the published case study noted that this case appeared to be the first published case of chiropractic adjustments being used for a patient suffering from chronic cauda equina syndrome. It seems that this type of spinal adjustment was safe and effective for reducing back pain and had no effect on neurologic deficits in this case. They noted that rapid pain relief seen in this case is extremely unusual for patients with cauda equina syndrome. They therefore concluded that it was very likely that the adjustments contributed to the resolution of spinal pain in this patient.


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