Considering Back Surgery? University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Recommends Chiropractic Care First

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Considering Back Surgery? University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Recommends Chiropractic Care First

Who would have imagined this 30 years ago—a leading medical college requiring their patients see a chiropractor before having back surgery?

But that’s exactly what’s happening at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). In order to increase success and minimize costs in the treatment of chronic low back pain, the UPMC Health Plan now includes a set of revolutionary guidelines for managing back pain.

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center recommends that employees get chiropractic care before going in for spinal surgery.

As of January 1, 2012, UPMC is pioneering a far-reaching initiative focused on the treatment of chronic back pain. While surgical emergencies would still be addressed immediately, all other lower back surgeries would require prior authorization and conservative care to determine if back surgery was medically necessary. Quoting their policy:

“To be considered for surgery, patients with chronic low back pain must have:

  • Tried and failed a 3-month course of conservative management, which includes physical therapy, chiropractic therapy and medication.
  • Completed UPMC Health Plan’s Low Back Pain Health Coaching Program.

This policy was developed using evidence-based literature and professional society guidelines, as well as the input of external medical professionals with expertise in the area.”

When I began practicing chiropractic care in Greenville, S.C., more than 30 years ago, this team approach was unheard of. But the results of chiropractic care in the treatment of lower back pain have spoken for themselves—reduction of time lost from work, reduction of healthcare costs, increased success, and higher patient satisfaction. UPMC has taken the lead in what doctors should always be focused on: what’s best for the patient.

This is the vanguard of the new team approach in spine care. Look for more examples of this type of cooperation in the future!

By | 2016-04-07T12:08:51+00:00 June 29th, 2012|Back Pain, News and Events|3 Comments


  1. Colin July 7, 2012 at 10:35 pm - Reply

    This is awesome. If only this was the standard instead of the exception. Not only would people be healthier, the overall cost of treatment, both for the consumer and for the insurance companies, would go down. Kudos to you UPMC.

  2. Dr Mark Burick July 16, 2012 at 3:54 pm - Reply

    It’s very encouraging to hear that chiropractic care has become so widely recognized and is even required in some institutes before back surgery. If the chiropractic care doesn’t solve the problem altogether, it will definitely still benefit you before you go into surgery.

  3. […] Traditionally, the diagnosis of sacroiliac joint pain includes a history with pain over the sacroiliac joint with activity or prolonged sitting.  The examination rules out lumbar spine and hip joint sourced pain and relies upon three positive sacroiliac joint tests along with confirmatory sacroiliac joint injections under fluoroscopic control.  The costs associated with just this diagnostic workup far exceeds a two week trial intervention in a chiropractic setting, and then add on the costs of surgery? […]

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