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As reported in The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Health Plan, a health maintenance organization affiliated with the university’s School of Medicine, has adopted landmark guidelines for the management of chronic low back pain.

As of Jan. 1, 2012, candidates for spine surgery must receive “prior authorization to determine medical necessity,” which includes verification that the patient has “tried and failed a 3-month course of conservative management that included physical therapy, chiropractic therapy, and medication.”

Surgery candidates also must be graduates of the plan’s Lower Back Pain health coaching program. The program features a Web-based decision-making tool designed to help plan members “understand the pros and cons of surgery and high-tech radiology.”

It is the first reported implementation of such a policy by a health care plan and is a profound commentary on using surgery as a very last choice of action.  Any individual experiencing chronic back pain should consult a chiropractor as an intelligent alternative prior to invasive surgery.

If you are in pain, call our office and we will to consult with you and offer a systematic non-surgical approach to guide you to relief.