Danish researcher spotlights back pain in the EU Parliament

In February 2019, the European Chiropractors’ Union had arranged to meet a group of EU-parliamentarians for a discussion of MSK-problems and back pain.

Back pain is not just a physical problem, it is very much a social and societal problem, Professor, Senior researcher and chiropractor Jan Hartvigsen told a group of Members of the EU-parliament (MEP) from Finland, Greece, Hungary and Belgium during a presentation of MSK-problems and back pain in the European Parliament.

Other members of the ECU delegation were ECU chairman Vasileios Gkolfinopoulos, Jakob Lothe from Norway; Gitte Tønner, president of the Netherlands Chiropractic Association; Iben Axén from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and Tom Michielsen, chairman of the European Academy of Chiropractic. They all spoke on various topics in chiropractic and MSK-research.

Arranged by the ECU, the meeting was the first ever, where chiropractors and researchers in MSK pain met members from the EU Parliament and asserted themselves in European politics.

It is no secret that the interest in MSK-problems among the 750 MEP’s is limited. Health politics is not a major issue in the EU and MSK pain even less so. Why is this so, Jakob Lothe asked rhetorically. Obviously, a major reason is the low mortality among the patients.

Yet in Norway the interest in MSK-problems is bigger than in several other countries. Why is that? Jakob Lothe explained how the interest in MSK-problems is higher in Norway than in other countries because the politicians have decided to act on the knowledge they have been given by the chiropractors and the health authorities. This means that chiropractic is accessible to everybody in Norway and considered as part of the solution to a person’s health problems.

Next up was Gitte Tønner, practising chiropractor in the Netherlands. She was called upon to give examples from the Netherlands of how they have created publicity, even in the national media. Dutch chiropractors are not able to treat more patients and there is a call for more chiropractors in the country. The discrepancy between demand and supply has created a patient demand for more chiropractors.

The Scandinavian researcher Iben Axén (born in Denmark, Norwegian nationality, living in Stockholm) explained the effects of Maintenance Care from her study of patients with recurring pain. Her studies clearly show that the number of days with pain decreased among patients, who received preventive treatment.

Tom Michielsen talked about the educational level among European chiropractors. Brexit is a cause for concern as most educational institutions are currently in Britain. Southern Europe and Scandinavia in particular are short of chiropractic educational institutions.

Vasileios Gkolfinopoulos ended the day by explaining how muscle-skeletal pain is a big burden on national budgets and we need to do something about that for the sake of the patients and budgets. Chiropractors will do everything they can to support and do everything to convey research into clinical practice as soon as possible.

From the other side of the table, experienced MEP Gerolf Annemans was very clear in his recommendations to the chiropractors: Keep focusing on education. That is the way forward.

The presentation in the EU does not solve any of the challenges facing chiropractic in the short or long run. But it is a beginning and the ECU delegation gathered experience, which can be used in the continuous work of creating awareness about the most expensive disease in societies around the world.

See the full presentation here: http://bit.ly/2J9O7aA. The video from the conference was hosted by the Greek MEP Miltos Kyrkos, who was the formal host of the presentation.