— by Jeff Jurmain, MA
Low-back pain is one of the most common health conditions in society. There are innumerable ways to seek health — family doctors, physical therapists, osteopaths, acupuncturists, and more. One increasingly common choice is chiropractic. A new study took a look at evidence from the past to see what people can expect from chiropractic in this case.
Chiropractors use spinal manipulation to help the pain; the theory being that a spine in proper alignment restores the body’s full power. The new review of evidence says that, on the whole, combining chiropractic with exercise or massage can reduce pain and improve disability for at least several weeks. At the same time, the review found that chiropractic doesn’t necessarily work any better than, say, osteopathy or physical therapy.
The review assessed 12 studies that totaled 2,887 patients, each of which compared chiropractic to another therapy in the treatment of back pain. Chiropractic was a regimen that most of the time combined spinal manipulation with nutrition, exercise, physical, mechanical or thermal therapies. In these studies, chiropractic was compared (and often combined) with exercise, painkillers, education, massage, heat and cold therapy, and physiotherapy.
Three studies focused on low-back pain that lasted up to three months. They found that pain decreased in the short term with both chiropractic and other treatments, with somewhat greater benefits for chiropractic. One study looked long-term, six months after treatment, and found no real difference between chiropractic and comparison therapies. Four studies addressed disability in people with acute low back pain — and found that chiropractic worked to a greater extent in the short term than other treatments.
Overall, chiropractic did not show major advantages over these other forms of treatment. But there are individual studies that did find this was the case. It’s because chiropractic can be performed in different ways, treating the cause of low-back pain in different ways. Many experts believe that spinal manipulation is the best bet for relieving low-back pain.
For those searching for answers to their discomfort, you want to find something that is safe and effective. If you find a skilled chiropractor, you can be confident that you should see some improvement in your back. And if you stretch and exercise in the ways the chiropractor describes, that improvement could be long-lasting and even permanent.