Research Recommends Chiropractic Care for Spinal Disk Herniations Rather Than Surgery

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Surgery has been the standard of care for spinal pain caused by disk herniations. Dr. J G Moellendorf, DC, ND, LCP discusses recent research supporting Chiropractic care for disk-related spinal pain before resorting to surgery.

Who would have imagined this—a leading medical college actually mandating that their patients see a Chiropractor rather than having surgery?

Neck pain affects 14% of the population yearly, while 85% will suffer with back pain at some point in their life. Spinal related pain costs over $85 billion yearly in the United States. Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin Chiropractor and Naturopath Dr. J G Moellendorf, DC, ND, LCP relates that when the pain killers, anti-inflammatories, and muscle relaxants fail, spinal surgery usually follows.

Researchers led by Dr. Cynthia Peterson at Orthopedic University Hospital Balgrist in Zürich, Switzerland studied 50 patients with neck pain that extended into the arm. Testing displayed nerve root involvement which was confirmed by MRIs showing a disk herniation in the neck. A course of Chiropractic care was begun consisting of high-velocity, low-amplitude spinal manipulations. The patient’s pain intensity was charted while under care. After 2 weeks of care, 55.3% reported that they were improved (feeling either “better” or “much better”), 68.9% were improved at 4 weeks, and 85.7% were improved at 12 weeks. Among the group that had chronic disk-related pain, 76.2% reported improvement at 12 weeks. The results titled “Outcomes From Magnetic Resonance Imaging–Confirmed Symptomatic Cervical Disk Herniation Patients Treated With High-Velocity, Low-Amplitude Spinal Manipulative Therapy: A Prospective Cohort Study With 3-Month Follow-Up” were published in the October 2013 issue of the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics.

In May 2013, another research team also led by Dr. Cynthia Peterson had published a similar study related to low back disk protrusions in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. Titled “Symptomatic Magnetic Resonance Imaging–Confirmed Lumbar Disk Herniation Patients: A Comparative Effectiveness Prospective Observational Study of 2 Age- and Sex-Matched Cohorts Treated With Either High-Velocity, Low-Amplitude Spinal Manipulative Therapy or Imaging-Guided Lumbar Nerve Root Injections”, it compared patient results of Chiropractic spinal manipulation to the commonly used nerve root injections in treating the symptoms related to low back disk protrusions. MRI confirmed that 102 patients had low back disk protrusions, which were divided into two age- and sex-matched groups, receiving either spinal manipulation or nerve root injections. Pain intensity was rated before each course of treatment, along with one month later. Improvement (feeling “better” or “much better”) was reported by 76.5% of those receiving Chiropractic care, and by 62.7% of those receiving the nerve root injections. Average cost of treatment (adjusted to USA currency) was $558.75 for the Chiropractic care and $729.61 for the injections.

Realizing the high costs and failure rates of spinal surgery, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Health Plan searched for ways to increase success and minimize the costs of spinal care. UPMC is affiliated with the university’s School of Medicine, one of the nation’s leading teaching schools for neurosurgery. As of January 1, 2012, UPMC implemented a comprehensive clinical initiative focused on the treatment of chronic low back pain. While surgical emergencies would still be addressed immediately, all other lower back surgeries would require prior authorization to determine if 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.”

To quote Dr. J G Moellendorf, DC, ND, LCP, “Who would have imagined this—a leading medical college actually mandating that their patients see a Chiropractor rather than having surgery? But the results of Chiropractic in the treatment of spinal pain have spoken for themselves in the reduction of time lost from work, reduction of healthcare costs and time off work, increased successful results, and patient satisfaction. UPMC has taken the lead in what doctors should have always been focused on: what is best for the patient.”

Using the latest research findings, Moellendorf Chiropractic Office, Ltd. uses a comprehensive package of Chiropractic care, decompression traction therapy, active therapeutic movement training, cold laser therapy, and nutrition for the natural treatment of neurological conditions, neck and back pain, and other health conditions without drugs or surgery. Additional information about Chiropractic, Naturopathy, and other forms of natural health care has been provided by Moellendorf Chiropractic Office, Ltd. at

About: Dr. J G Moellendorf, DC, ND, LCP
Dr. J G Moellendorf, DC, ND, LCP attended the University of Wisconsin—Superior where he majored in Physics and Mathematics, with a minor in art photography. While attending the University of Minnesota—Minneapolis, he assisted in research on ribosomal proteins. Completing his Chiropractic studies at Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa, he graduated Cum Laude (with high honors) in 1983. He started Moellendorf Chiropractic Office, Ltd. in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin in 1983. In 1996, Dr. Moellendorf was awarded his Doctorate in Naturopathy from Trinity School of Natural Health. In 2001, he received Chiropractic’s most prestigious award, the honorary Legion of Chiropractic Philosophers degree, for his thesis “The Workings of Innate Intelligence in Obsessive/Compulsive and Addictive Behaviors.” This paper was chosen for publishing in the book Philosophic Contemplations vol. 2 in 2002. In June of 2012, Dr. Moellendorf authored his first book titled Healthcare’s Best Kept Secret which can be ordered on Amazon. Dr. Moellendorf can be contacted by phone (920) 493-2126, fax (920) 743-1145, email jgmoellendorf(at)itol(dot)com, his website at, or send a carrier pigeon to 44.84722N and 87.36416W.

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