May 2008



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Most Extensive Study on Neck Pain Dispels Myths and Supports Chiropractic Care

In a release published on May 7, 2008 in the Park Forest Illinois online publication, ENews, the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress (www.F4CP.org) cited a neck pain study to help dispel common myths.  The release started by noting, "Results of the most significant study on neck pain to date, conducted by The Bone and Joint Decade’s Neck Pain Task Force and reported in the journal SPINE (1/18/08), uncover prevailing fallacies in the diagnosis and treatment of neck pain."  The ENews article pointed out that the United Nations and the World Health Organization have designated the years 2000 to 2010 as the “Decade of the Bone and Joint.”

According to the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress the findings result from a six-year review of more than 31,000 research citations with subsequent analysis of over 1,000 studies. The Foundation notes that the multi-disciplinary report, involved people from 19 areas of study and from eight collaborating universities in four countries. They state that this study is widely regarded as one of the most extensive reports on the subject of neck pain ever developed, and it offers the most current perspective on the scientific evidence related to the care and management of neck pain.  One of the key findings was that "the use of highly invasive practices such as surgery are not indicated when addressing the most common examples of neck pain."

Gerard W. Clum, D.C., president of California-based Life Chiropractic College West and speaking on behalf of the not-for-profit Foundation commented, "This study validates that interventions such as spinal manipulation or spinal adjusting that promote regaining function and a return-to-work are more beneficial than usual care, sham or alternative interventions."

Dr. Clum also noted how common neck problems are, "A pain in the neck is a common adage for a good reason- - it is a widespread, annoying, aggravating and disabling problem affecting up to 70 percent of the population annually." He continued, "While this type of condition does not carry the life-or-death reality of a heart attack or cancer, it often undermines a person’s quality of life over decades. People often say that time heals all wounds, but neck pain may be an exception that does not resolve well over time. In fact, it tends to worsen over time unless addressed effectively and efficiently."

“This authoritative study offers health care professionals--including primary care physicians, surgeons, chiropractors, physical therapists and others--a thoroughly documented overview of the strategies that have been established in the scientific literature to address neck pain," says Dr. Clum.  He concluded his remarks by saying, "From my vantage point as a chiropractor, their recommendations greatly support the approach and forms of care provided by chiropractors, especially spinal adjustments that have been central to the practice of chiropractic."



Warning for Plastic Baby Bottles - Banned in Canada

A number of articles in the press announced that Canada will be the first nation to ban the import and sale of plastic polycarbonate baby bottles which are made with a certain type of plastic, bisphenol A. One such article appeared in the April 18, 2008 edition of Reuters news from Ottawa, Canada. The article reported that Health Minister Tony Clement said he would bring in rules to outlaw plastic polycarbonate baby bottles, probably within the next year.

The April 18, 2008 issue of Scientific American also ran an article that noted that Canadian retail chains have already started removing bottles and containers containing bisphenol A, citing public concerns about possible health risks. The chemical is used in 9 out of 10 baby bottles.

An article on May 6, 2008 in the Daily Mail from the United Kingdom warned that the chemical, bisphenol A mimics the female hormone estrogen, and can pass from clear plastics into milk, water and juice, particularly when containers are heated. They point out that scientists in the U.S. have linked exposure to low levels with fertility problems, breast cancer and early puberty.

Belinda Phipps, the chief executive of the National Childbirth Trust said, "As a first step, it is important that bottles and other items that might reach a baby's mouth are labeled in a standard and easy to understand way". 

Elizabeth Salter Green, from the group Chemtrust, called for bisphenol A to be banned from all plastic products where there is a risk of the chemical leaching into milk or any item to be ingested.  She said, "It is unwise to make products for vulnerable sections of society using this chemical," she said. "Because of its ability to leach out into milk, it should not be used in baby bottles."



Major Depression Patient Helped with Chiropractic - Case Study

A documented case study appearing in the April 23, 2008 issue of the scientific periodical, the Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research, showed the improvement of a patient with major depression with chiropractic care. In this case study a 46-year-old man suffering from his third bout of major depression, presented himself for chiropractic care.

In addition to the diagnosis of depression the man also had many symptoms related to his depression such as generalized bilateral neck and low back pain, anxiety, fatigue, and a small appetite.  He was also suffering from the effects of the medications he was taking, which included a decrease in sex drive, dizziness, overall muscle weakness, and insomnia.

A standardized questionnaire known as the SF-36 was used to determine the patients initial status as well as his responses to chiropractic care. The SF-36 is a health survey questionnaire with 36 questions. It has been tested by the federal health authorities and is used to predict quality-of-life improvement after a particular healthcare treatment or intervention. The average American scores a 50 on the SF-36 test.

The case study notes that Mood disorders affect 18.8 million American adults (9.5% of the population) in any given year.  The study points out that clinical depression is quite different than just feeling depressed. They note that most everyone occasionally has such experiences, in times such as grieving for the death of a loved one.

As noted in this case a 46-year-old occupational software support engineer presented for chiropractic care with the diagnosis of major depression and with the intention of improving his overall health.  He was currently suffering his third bout of depression and was on medical leave due to this situation. The severity of his situation was highlighted by the addition of many symptoms related to his depression which included loss of appetite, malaise, fatigue, joint stiffness, neck pain, low back pain, as well as thoughts of suicide and anxiety. He was taking the medication Paxil which then added the symptoms of decreased libido, increased perspiration, weakness, and dizziness.

His self rating according to the SF-36 initially showed a score of 40 for physical component summary, and a score of 25 for mental component summary, compared to the average of 50. The patient's initial chiropractic evaluation consisted of x-rays and a number of tests and procedures that revealed multiple findings of vertebral subluxations.

Specific chiropractic adjustments were initiated to correct the subluxations. He received a total of 34 adjustments over an 11 month period. After just three visits, the patient reported a decrease of anxiety and fatigue and an increase in muscle strength.  Over the course of his care his low back and neck discomfort had resolved. He no longer experienced dizziness. His depression improved considerably, according to his SF-36 scores and his Global Wellness Scale scores.

The author of the case study concluded, "This report details the life history and symptomology of a 46-year-old man suffering with major depression; the 11 months of chiropractic care; and the man’s physical, social and mental response to correction of vertebral subluxations. This report supports the previous literature written regarding correction of vertebral subluxation, and it’s positive effect on physical, mental and social well-being.



Euro Backpain Barometer Survey Launched by British Chiropractic Association

According to an April 11, 2008 release by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) and reported on in the April 16, 2008 issue of the Guardian UK, Germany is the number one country for people complaining of back pain with a rate of 67 percent. The BCA reviewed the number of back pain cases by country and issued their "Euro Backpain Barometer" to highlight the results.

According to the BCA survey study, back pain in the United Kingdom is on the increase, rising by 5% in just 12 months, with 52% of the country currently suffering, compared to 47% in 2007.  Overall, the study shows that cultural differences create back problems at different rates.  The study showed the rate and order of back problem frequencies to be as follows:

  1. Germany – 67%

  2. Italy – 63%

  3. UK – 52%

  4. France – 50%

  5. Finland – 50%

  6. Sweden – 36%

  7. Netherlands – 26%

The reasons people blame as the cause of their pain varies from country to country with Italians blaming high heels, Germans blaming sitting in front of computers for long periods of time and in the UK pregnancy is a large identified reason.

The study also shows that many do not seek help for their back problems, with most suffering for 3 to 5 years.   The BCA study notes that the Swedes are the longest suffering, with 78% claiming to have had back pain for three or more years. In Finland 11% of those with back pain have been suffering for as long as they remember and 23% of the British with back pain have been suffering for 10 or more years.

Tim Hutchful from The British Chiropractic Association comments: “Incidence of back pain is continuing to rise at an alarming rate in Britain and across Europe as a whole, and poor posture continues to be the main culprit. This study highlights what a detrimental effect back pain can have on people’s lives."



Medical Errors Cost U.S. $8.8 Billion, Result in 238,337 Preventable Deaths

A study published on April 8, 2008 called HealthGrades, Patient Safety in American Hospitals Study" showed  medical errors at U.S. hospitals killed 270,491 people and cost the US $8.8 billion in the Medicare program alone. HealthGrades is a healthcare ratings organization, providing ratings and profiles of hospitals, nursing homes and physicians.

In their fifth annual study they performed an analysis of 41 million Medicare patient records, from 2004 to 2006 and found that the overall medical error rate was about 3 percent for all Medicare patients, which extrapolates  out to about 1.1 million patient safety incidents during the three years included in the analysis. 

In a release from HealthGrades, they note that Medicare patients who experienced a patient-safety incident had a one-in-five chance of dying as a result of the incident. Dr. Samantha Collier, HealthGrades' chief medical
officer and the primary author of the study noted, "While many U.S. hospitals have taken extensive action to prevent medical errors, the prevalence of likely preventable patient safety incidents is taking a costly toll on our health care systems – in both lives and dollars.”

The release also noted that there was a large discrepancy between hospitals.  They stated that if the lower performing hospitals were performing as well as what they called the "Distinguished Hospitals for Patient Safety" that approximately 220,106 patient safety incidents and 37,214 Medicare deaths could have been prevented while approximately $2.0 billion could have been saved during the years 2004 to 2006.

Out of the nearly 5,000 hospitals HealthGrades studied, they identified only 249 hospitals that were worthy of receiving their Distinguished Hospitals for Patient Safety award. The study showed that the most reported patient safety risk is a little-known but always-fatal problem called “failure to rescue". This is when caregivers fail to notice or respond when a patient is dying of preventable complications in a hospital.  This translates into approximately 61,000 people dying each year from failure to rescue mistakes.

In an MSNBC article on the same day, Sean Clarke, associate director for the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing in Philadelphia commented, "Failure to rescue is not whether you get the wrong IV in the first place. It’s how fast do people pick up that you’re going south and turn it around?”



Sweden Ranks World's Best Place for Mothers - US Ranks 27th

A report published in May of 2008 called "State of the World’s Mothers", by the international aid agency Save The Children, documented the overall health of mothers and children in countries around the world. The document which illustrates where mothers and children fare best and where they face the greatest hardship, received a lot of press for the portions that showed how many children die each year due to a total lack of any healthcare.  But the report also covered the issues of healthcare related to mothers. 

In this report, Save The Children, ranked the nations of the world according to three indexes they list as "Mothers', Women's and Children's indexes.  In this report Save the Children did assessments on such aspects of health including longevity, drinking water quality, maternity leave allowances, women's political participation and the mortality rate of children under five.  They separated the countries of the world into three tiers.  One group or "Tier 1" represented the more developed countries, and "Tier 2" group represented the less developed countries, with Tier 3 being the least developed countries.

In Tier 1, Sweden got the highest ranking for both mothers and women and came in fourth for children. This ranking was out of a total of 43 nations that were included in Tier 1, because they were more developed. The United States actually dropped one position in the ranking this year falling to 27th on the list for mothers.  The US did slightly better in the women's index being ranked 22nd out of 43.  However, when it came to children, the US was ranked in the bottom third of Tier 1 developed nations getting a ranking of 33 out of 43.

These low US numbers are in spite of the fact that the US health care system is the most expensive in the world costing over 2 trillion dollars per year. The Czech Republic ranked just ahead of the US who was followed by Slovakia. The type of criteria analyzed in this report include:

  • Lifetime risk of maternal mortality

  • Female life expectancy

  • Expected number of years of formal schooling for females

  • Ratio of estimated female-to-male earned income

  • Mortality rate for children under 5

  • Percentage of children under age 5 moderately or severely underweight

  • School enrolment ratios

  • Percentage of population with access to safe water

As disappointing as the ranking is for the US, the Tier 1 ranking is far above those countries on the tier 2 and 3 lists.  The report noted that more than 500,000 women die during pregnancy or childbirth, and nearly 10 million children die before reaching their fifth birthday. In an impassioned plea, Charles F. MacCormack, President and CEO of Save the Children commented, "We count on the world’s leaders to take stock of how mothers and children are faring in every country. Investing in this most basic partnership of all – between a mother and her child – is the first and best step in ensuring healthy children, prosperous families and strong communities."



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