Everybody seems to be more engaged in their health care these days. A lot of it has to do with the Affordable Care Act coming online. Health care plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, are available with everything from basic coverage to “Cadillac care” with all of the bells and whistles. With such a diverse number of ways for people to go about managing their health, it can become unclear which methods provide the most effective treatment.

This brings up a good question: Who should grandpa go see for back pain?

As it turns out, he’s got a bunch of options via Medicare including doctors of chiropractic (DCs), physical therapists, internists, neurologists, interventional pain providers, and orthopedists to name a few.

A group of researchers in the Department of Health Management Policy in the College of Public Health at the University of Iowa got interested in how different care types affect Seniors who are on Medicare. They decided to take a closer look at how effective chiropractic treatment was versus medical treatment in seniors. Their paper, “The Comparative Effect of Episodes of Chiropractic and Medical Treatment on the Health of Older Adults“, reports for the first time that chiropractic care is as effective as medical care on the functional health of Seniors when treating uncomplicated back conditions (eg, strains and sprains, and nonspecific back disorders) over a two-year period.

Specifically, the report looked at factors that affected one’s quality of life:  “activities of daily living” (ADL), instrumental ADL, and self-rated health. When these quality of life variables were rated, the researchers found that chiropractic care was as effective as medical treatment at making people feel better and in maintaining their functional health and quality of life when the problems being addressed are for uncomplicated back conditions over a two year period.

This brings us back to the original question: Who should grandpa go see for back pain?

Before, the answer was, “I dunno? Who has availability?” Now, we have evidence to show that calling your chiropractor is a medically sound choice.