Cover: Dosing of Lumbar Spinal Manipulative Therapy and Its Association with Escalated Spine Care

Dosing of Lumbar Spinal Manipulative Therapy and Its Association with Escalated Spine Care

A Cohort Study of Insurance Claims

Published in: PLOS ONE, Volume 19 (2024): e0283252. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0283252

Posted on rand.org Apr 12, 2024

by Brian R. Anderson, James M. Whedon, Patricia M. Herman

Objective

The objective of this study was to evaluate the relationship between three distinct spinal manipulative therapy dose groups and escalated spine care by analyzing insurance claims from a cohort of patients with low back pain.

Methods

We compared three distinct spinal manipulative therapy dose groups (low = 1 SMT visits, moderate = 2–12 SMT visits, high = 13+ SMT visits), to a control group (no spinal manipulative therapy) regarding the outcome of escalated spine care. Escalated spine care procedures include imaging studies, injection procedures, emergency department visits, surgery, and opioid medication use. Propensity score matching was performed to address treatment selection bias. Modified Poisson regression modeling was used to estimate the relative risk of spine care escalation among three spinal manipulative therapy doses, adjusting for age, sex, retrospective risk score and claim count.

Results

83,025 claims were categorized into 11,114 unique low back pain episodes; 8,137 claims had 0 spinal manipulative therapy visits, with the remaining episodes classified as low dose (n = 404), moderate dose (n = 1,763) or high dose (n = 810). After propensity score matching, 5,348 episodes remained; 2,454 had 0 spinal manipulative therapy visits with the remaining episodes classified as low dose (n = 404), moderate dose (n = 1,761), or high dose (n = 729). The estimated relative risk (vs no spinal manipulative therapy) for any escalated spine care was 0.45 (95% confidence interval 0.38, 0.55, p <0.001), 0.58 (95% confidence interval 0.53, 0.63, p <0.001), and 1.03 (95% confidence interval 0.95, 1.13, p = 0.461) for low, moderate, and high dose spinal manipulative therapy groups, respectively.

Conclusions

For claims associated with initial episodes of low back pain, low and moderate dose spinal manipulative therapy groups were associated with a 55% and 42% reduction, respectively, in the relative risk of any escalated spine care.

Research conducted by

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