When faced with the thought of having to undergo back surgery, who wouldn’t want a real alternative?

Those who suffer from back pain may finally be able do just that as evidence mounts supporting the growing movement toward chiropractic care as the “first option” for relief over costly and invasive procedures such as spinal surgery. One job-related statistic underscores just how big a deal that really is: Back pain injuries outnumber all other occupational injuries in the U.S.

To that point, the latest study to show that seeing a doctor of chiropractic  first reduced the chance of having to undergo surgery was recently conducted by a collaboration of prestigious institutions, including Dartmouth College’s Geisel School of Medicine and the University of Washington School of Public Health. Their published results (“Early Predictors of Lumbar Spine Surgery After Occupational Back Injury: Results from a Prospective Study of Workers in Washington State”) found that while close to half—or 42.7 percent—of that state’s workers who visited a surgeon wound up going under the knife, only a scant 1.5 percent of those who first consulted a chiropractor shared the same end result. The outcomes reflect conditions of similar severity.

Prior studies support the more recent study findings, in that, patients who visit a chiropractor first have consistently better health results, less use of opiod medications and considerably lower medical bills.

As more data continues to surface, I expect that patients and practitioners will move to-ward considering chiropractic care first, medicine second, and surgery last.