A snapshot of Australia’s health needs
Chiropractors offer advice not only on ways to reduce back pain, but also to help patients consider their diet and build more exercise into their lifestyle.
- Diet and exercise could both be improved for the average Australian. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s 2012 Risk Factors report found that:
- Over 90% of Australians don’t eat the recommended quantity of vegetables each day;
- Around 50% do not eat the recommended quantity of fruit;
- Almost 60% do not undertake sufficient physical activity to incur health benefits (defined as 150 minutes per week over at least 5 sessions)
- More than 80% of Australians spend more than 3 hours each day sitting during their leisure time
- Poorer people are more likely to have risky health behaviours
Chiropractic care for back pain
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has calculated that 1.8 million Australians – almost 10% of the population – suffer back problems.
- The Institute states that many back problems commence in the 15-34 age group. People with back problems were two and a half times as likely to have disorders such as depression. This is a really serious problem – estimated to force 280,000 Australians into early retirement annually and costing the economy $12 billion.
- 14 of the 16 International clinical guidelines for treatment of Lower Back Pain recommend chiropractic care
- US Doctors recently recommended chiropractic care as a form of treatment for lower back pain in a 2013 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
- A 2011 study by independent consumer advocacy group Consumer Reports surveyed 45,000 people and found that 65% of patients who used chiropractic care for back or neck pain stated that it had ‘helped a lot’, outranking all other treatments included in the survey, including prescription medication.
- A 2013 study found that chiropractic care in conjunction with standard medical care offers a significant advantage for reducing pain and improving physical function for men and women aged 18-35 with acute lower back pain.
- Around 70% of the population are likely to suffer neck pain at some point in their lives according to a 2012 study, which found that chiropractic care was more effective than medication in treating neck pain in both the short and long term. The study also found that home exercise based on sound advice could deliver similar improvements in most cases.
- In a study of people with new workers compensation claims for back injury in Washington State, researchers found that the type of health professional consulted first by patients had a huge impact on whether patients with back problems chose to have surgery. The researchers reported that 42.7% of workers with a back injury that saw a surgeon first had surgery, whereas only 1.5% of those who saw a chiropractor first had surgery.
- Researchers from the American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society recommended spinal manipulation as a treatment for both acute and chronic back pain.
- Chiropractic health care may lower the overall cost of health care provision, according to an article in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
- Spinal adjustments – also called spinal manipulation – are relatively safe when performed by a licenced practitioner, according to the US Governments’ National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.Numerous researchers have found that the incidence of severe complications following chiropractic care and manipulation is extremely low.
Australian Chiropractic patients
- 16% of Australians visited a chiropractor at least once during 2005 (more than 3 million people per year) according to research published in 2007
- A 2013 study of Victorian chiropractors provided valuable insights into the demand for chiropractic care:
- 62% of appointments were for back problems
- 71% of patients were aged 25-64
- Spinal adjustments and massage were the most common types of care provided by chiropractors
- Musculoskeletal issues were most commonly treated.
- Almost 20% of Australians who sought manipulation therapy were referred by medical practitioners, according to research released in 2008.
- 90% of the those surveyed who had used chiropractic said their treatment had been very or somewhat helpful, according to the research, which examined Australians who visited acupuncturists, chiropractors and osteopaths.
- Chiropractors are one of the 14 health professions in Australia that are part of the National Registration Scheme requiring registration with the Chiropractic Board of Australia.
- There are about 4,400 registered practising chiropractors in Australia according to the Chiropractic Board of Australia
- Chiropractic Board of Australia statistics indicate that 36% of Australian chiropractors are women
- Chiropractic is Australia’s eighth-largest registered health profession according to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency
- The out of pocket cost of Australians visiting chiropractors was more than $905 million, according to research released in 2008.