Healthcare On A Budget – Part III Conservative Care

Get CONSERVATIVE CARE FIRST. It’s cheaper. There are almost always more than one way to treat any given condition, and some of them will not work.  That’s just the nature of healthcare.

Conservative treatment means that you use the best tool to get the job done with the least amount of risk. The most obvious example is if you have low back pain, the most conservative treatment is to stay active but take it easy. Or you could go to a surgeon to get an MRI and multiple other test to determine if the back pain is surgical. That seems kind of ridiculous.  It’s easy to see when you use extreme examples like that. It may not be so easy when comparing things like chiropractic adjustments to prescription medication.

If you were to walk through the levels of care and note the risk involved it may become clear. Let’s use the same example of back pain. Chances are in a day or so you’ll be back to normal if you just stay as active as you can but take it easy. That has very little physical risk, but does cost you a sick day or two. Hot packs and massage cost a little more and have a little more risk.

If the problem is not improving with the most conservative option move up the chain. You should be examined by a doctor. The least expensive physician with the most training in musculoskeletal conditions is a chiropractor. Chiropractic has little more risk than a massage and does not introduce foreign chemicals, needles or a scalpel into your body. The cost of chiropractic is limited to what happens while you are in the office, there is no additional charge for medication. When you leave the office you feel better. You don’t have to go to the pharmacy and pay more so that you might be able to mask the symptoms.

Generally speaking cost is relative to risk. Food for thought: the cheapest back surgery is going to be about $50,000 that’s over 1200 chiropractic visits in my office. How long would it take you to use that many visits?

How to Make a First Aid Kit

Having a good first aid kit is a good way to keep healthcare costs down. I was asked to write a post about how to have a useful first aid kit.  The hard part of that request is the term “useful.”  Items are only useful if you have the knowledge of how to use them.  The most important first aid item is knowledge.  Knowing what to do when someone bumps their head or has a fever may save you a trip to the ER and a lot of money.  Remember you are only providing first aid.  Any bandage or wrap that you put on will be taken off when you are seen in the Emergency Room.

PERSONAL CARRY KIT

IMG_2860I carry emergency supplies with me almost every where I go.  In my back pack I have a small pouch where I keep a ziplock bag containing, a barrier breathing device for CPR, glucose tablets for diabetics, Benedryl for allergic reactions, baby aspirin for heart attacks, butterfly bandage strips for severe cuts, small LED flashlight, pocket knife,  a glow stick, a compass, and a lighter.  The last few are the boy scout in me, but the rest are what I consider my duty because of my knowledge.  All chiropractors go through first aid and emergency courses for health care professionals, and should be able to respond in an emergency.  If you don’t know how or why to use emergency items then it doesn’t help to carry them.   I recommend everyone be willing to do their best in emergencies, nothing more is required.   If you want to learn more I highly recommend it, but remember “with great power comes great responsibility.”

HOME KIT

Sterilite DrawersYour first aid kit should be readily accessible, out of sight of children and the only place that you keep medical items.  If you have things all over they are difficult to keep track of, and hard to direct people to in an emergency.  My home kit is more of a closet.  I have my doc bag with stethoscope, etc. and then a plastic drawer set organized and full.

Most home kits should include: bandages of all sizes (band-aids all the way up to large abdominal pads), surgical tape to hold the bandages in place, wrapping bandages such as rolls and triangle bandages for wrapping or immobilizing, glucose tablets or hard candy for diabetics, self contained burn dressings, antibiotic ointment to reduce infection risk, baby aspirin for a heart attack, emergency blanket, CPR breathing barrier, instant cold compress, non-latex gloves, Benadryl for allergies, scissors, tweezers, a thermometer and any other essential personal health care items that family members may require such as an EpiPen, inhaler, or other prescription medications.

Some extra items that people like to keep in their home kit are: Essential oils, vitamins, an AEDUV-C sterilizer, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, duct tape, superglue, saline/eye solution and water.  There are many more things that you can keep and my closet has most of them.  Any extra items usually require extra knowledge, but it is easy to acquire and often free.  The Red Cross is a great place to start, but many companies, communities and colleges have educational courses that you can also take.  Most modern kits that you purchase come with a first aid instruction booklet that can help you use the kit, but you don’t want to wait until an emergency happens to read the book.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

American Red Cross Smartphone App

Red Cross First Aid Kit, How to guide

Boy Scouts of America First Aid Merit Badge Book

First aid for common household problems – WebMD

Healthcare On A Budget – Part II – Education

EDUCATION is the second way to save yourself healthcare dollars. This education comes in many forms. First you need to learn the basics of first aid and home care. If you know how to treat basic injuries and how to recognize when things are beyond your ability then you will save many trips to the ER. You can get a basic first aid manual from your local library, free online training, or contact your local boy scout troop and see if you can earn your first aid merit badge. In educating your self create an emergency kit, stock it and know how to use all of the items in it.

Learn when to call the doctor. Often times a fever doesn’t mean you need to call. As a general rule fevers aren’t worrisome until they are over 103 degrees and only then if they don’t respond to fever reducing medication like Tylenol (recommendations are different for young children). Learn when a cough, or fever, or sore throat, or ear ache, etc is bad enough to call. More often than not your body will cope just fine and there is nothing a doctor can do. You’ll save money if you know when those times are.

Stay informed about what conditions are “going around” and be prepared for them. If you’re not sure what’s going around call your local hospital or just a public school.

Learn where you can get the cheapest help. Your chiropractor is much cheaper than the emergency room, and trained in diagnosis. Just checking into the ER is going to cost you significant money. You can usually see me for a full treatment plan for the amount that a single ER visit costs. Nothing’s worse than going to the emergency room and having them tell you I’m sorry there’s nothing that we can do, and then getting the bill from them for that nothing that they did.  A chiropractor will not treat you when a bone is sticking out or when you’ve cut off a finger, but when the case is questionable learn who you can turn to for the least cost.

Getting Healthcare While On a Budget

How can you get healthcare if you’re on a tight budget? The first thing to realize is that you are talking about your health. Don’t fool around if you think something is serious.

I know how you feel. I was in the same situation for the first 10 years of my marriage. You worry that you or your family could get sick because you can’t afford to take them to the doctor, and going to the emergency room would destroy you financially. In this kind of situation people are looking for ways that they can make their dollars go farther.

Part I – Prevention

The first way to spend less is PREVENTION. Eating right and exercise costs no more than eating poorly and doing nothing. Go for a walk, eat a carrot, don’t buy soda, wash your hands, know your blood pressure. Chiropractic is also an excellent way to keep in prime condition. If you can keep your body in good condition or improve it you are better able to avoid illness and recover quicker from injury.

apple pillsIf you can’t prevent it from happening and sometimes we can’t; the next best thing is to catch it early and keep it from getting worse. Many people just ignore symptoms and put off that doctors visit thinking that they’ll probably get better on their own. The reality is if you head things off early you’ll prevent the bigger things down the road. To use a dental example, a filling is much cheaper than a root canal. Don’t put off those relatively cheap preventative checkups. They are probably the cheapest office visits and if they identify something early you’ll spend much less than you would if you wait.

With chiropractic the longer you wait to come in the more visits it will take to get you back into good condition.  When our joints aren’t moving they can slip into a degenerative cycle.  So that pain in the neck, if not taken care of, could turn into a pain down the arm and back as well.

I’m not saying you should see a doctor for every little thing,  but if it’s not getting better on it’s own or it’s getting worse don’t wait weeks before getting help.  Tune in next time for part II of this discussion…

Your Commute and Your Spine

With modern transportation people have opted to live far away from their jobs.   This has it’s advantages.  It is also causing problems for commuters.  Most sources agree that the average American spends about 30 min in their car to get to work.  That’s an hour a day, and more time each year than you spend on vacation.

Your back is taking a beating from all this driving.  Car seats are designed for looks not usually for support, and even when we have a good one we rarely use it properly.  But let’s not dwell on the bad.  Here are some ideas to help with this problem.

  • If you can, move closer to work, bike, walk or run to work.  You get your exercise and you avoid the car.  You might be surprised at how easy it is to bike to work at least some days.
  • Keep yourself fit.  Diet and exercise can help your body handle a lot. Chiropractic can help you keep your body in peak condition.
  • Take your wallet out of your back pocket.  I’ve seen some huge wallets.  At least take it out for your commute.
  • Relax.  Leave early so traffic doesn’t stress you.  Listen to relaxing music while driving, and avoid stressors in general.
  • Park far away.  This is especially important for those who sit in offices all day.  This will get your legs and back moving a little before you have to sit again.
  • Use proper posture in the car.  Sit upright and relax your shoulders.  If it helps you get a lumbar support from a store like relax the back.  Adjust your seat to help you sit properly.  Men usually sit to far back with their legs fully extended, and women usually sit to close.  Keep as much of your thighs on the seat as possible.
  • Adjust the seat when you get uncomfortable rather than shifting yourself.

These ideas can reduce the chance of you having to come see me, but if you do find your self with back pain from driving see your chiropractor.  The sooner you come in the less damage is done and the less time it takes to correct it.

Symptom of the Week – Whiplash

I’ve covered this topic a little bit here and there with other posts, but I thought that it is such a common theme that it deserves it’s own title.  Whiplash is essentially just rapid acceleration and deceleration of your head and neck. This kind of motion can happen in sports, or in play but is most commonly associated with car accidents.

Whiplash is named for the motion of a whip.  When the base of a whip is moved properly it only has to move a very slight amount yet the tip of that whip can reach beyond the speed of sound producing the crack that you hear.  In whiplash accidents the spine acts as the whip and the head is the end of that whip.  When the head moves in this uncontrolled manner, tendons muscles and ligaments (the soft tissues supporting the spine) are often injured as well as the joints themselves.  These injuries can cause unbalanced weaknesses and spasms.  Though at first you may feel fine, over the next days and weeks these imbalances cause increasing strain on your neck, back and head.  Symptoms can even develop weeks after the incident.  These symptoms are usually headaches, and achy stiffness in your back, neck and or shoulders.  However your doctor will want to rule out any serious neurological problems as well.

With whiplash the pain is usually the reason that patients come in for care.  The pain is usually only a small symptom compared to the whole.  When you visit your chiropractor after a car accident you may have already been to the Emergency Room and had x-ray’s taken.  Your chiropractor will likely want to see those films and may even take more of his own.  You will be able to see on the X-ray films a straightening of the cervical spine.  This is very predictable with these types of injuries. The joints have been moved out of place, and the muscle spasms will hold them there.  When your spine is missing it’s normal curve it is unable to absorb shock in the way it was designed, and the reduced range of motion can become chronic.  The sooner you begin treatment the better the outcome you are likely to have.

For more on what to expect at a chiropractic visit in the case of whiplash click here.

Chiropractic Care Reduces Health Care Costs

According to this study published in the “Archives of Internal Medicine” people with chiropractic coverage cost less for health care.  They found that there was not only a decrease in expenses when it comes to back problems (NMS Conditions), but that overall those people with chiropractic care cost less to treat.  They required less back surgery, less x-rays, less MRIs, less ambulance rides, and less hospitalizations.  The cost of one MRI alone is as much or more than that of 10 chiropractic office visits.

There were huge reductions in cost even with a low utilization rate of chiropractic.  Notice that even with chiropractic costs per person at $31 per year (meaning that only a few took advantage of it) there was still a total savings of $330.  If more people turned to chiropractic for their Neuromusculoskeletal complaints the savings could be even more drastic.

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From the article:

“The high prevalence and recurrent incidence of back pain, aswell as the heavy economic and disability burden that it imposeson society as documented in the literature, point to a majorarea of public health concern. Simultaneously, there is growingevidence for the low risks associated with chiropractic spinalmanipulation in most cases and favorable evidence for its effectivenessin treating low back pain. In addition, patients treated forback pain by DCs tend to be more satisfied than patients treatedby MDs. However, despite this evidence for safety, effectiveness,and growing public demand, health insurance coverage for chiropracticcare continues to remain restricted, relative to other healthservices, particularly in the managed care sector.”

My take away from this is that if you utilize chiropractic you will need to go to the doctor less, and save more money.  Insurance companies who want to save money themselves should pick up on this, but more importantly, you as a patient should see your chiropractor.

Child Car Seat Safety

As a chiropractor public safety is very important to me.  I relate to and understand what car accidents can do to people.  Seat belts are a major cause of whiplash in my opinion, but I’d rather treat a person for whiplash than have to attend their funeral, and so I support the use of seat belts.  Our cars have many safety features designed into them.  It is important that we use them properly so that we are safer for using them.

A few summers ago Utah’s legislature updated it’s car seat laws.  My daughter was very disappointed.  She was getting ready to move out of her booster seat to a regular seat belt.  She was so excited.  But then she had to grow an extra inch or two or wait a few more months.

The basics of the new law are this; any child under the age of 8 unless 4’9″ or taller must be in a child safety seat appropriate for their age/size.  I wish that this kind of thing didn’t require a law.  Every child is precious and should be protected.  I know that every person is different, and some children might not need the seat, but if you have to make a rule then the line has to be drawn somewhere.  Sometimes these lines are arbitrary and sometimes they are based on actual research.

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for children in the USA.  Proper restraints cut that risk by 60%.  To make sure you are using them properly, there are many resources; this IIHS site even has video, or the Utah Safety Council.  If you’re not sure how to buckle your kids properly bring them in.  I’d be happy to go over the manufacturers recommendations and walk you through a checklist.  Also, I know that most police stations will have an officer that will check your installation.  The Orem Police Station had an officer check our car seats and explain how to properly buckle up our children.  Call your local police station to find out if they have a similar program.

For adults it is important to use the safety features designed into your car as well.  Adjusting your headrest properly will reduce the effect of whiplash if you get in an accident.  Also, wearing your seat belt at your hips rather than your waist reduces abdominal or back injury.

Make sure that you and your children are as safe as can be in your cars.  Please buckle up.

New Office Celebration

 

Open HouseCome join us for a celebration of our new office opening. We moved to a new office within the same building. Come ask me questions in person, win prizes, and get a massage.  The more people you bring the more chances you’ll get to win.  You can also share our Facebook event to be entered for raffle prizes.

While your thinking about us like our Facebook page and come visit our website.

What is the Difference Between Medical Doctors and Chiropractors?

From the perspective of a chiropractor.

Our core training is very similar.  In training chiropractors and medical doctors split after anatomy.  Medical doctors study the effects of chemicals and surgery on anatomy and physiology, whereas chiropractors study how to aid the natural function of anatomy and physiology. Chiropractors tend to feel that the body heals it’s self with our help.  The opposite view would be that the things/medications that we do to the body heal it.  (I’d need any medical doctor reading this to give his side a little better.  It’s always best to go to the source.)

If something is chemically dysfunctional such as in diabetes and bacterial infection, or requires surgery such as an appendicitis or severed limb then you would want to seek out a medical doctor or surgeon.  If you are experiencing biomechanical dysfunction like a sprained or painful joint, or neurological pain or dysfunction such as a “pinched”/irritated nerve or radiculopathy, find a chiropractor.  Both have vastly different approaches, but there are many times when the two professions should work together.  They are complimentary not exclusive.