Expense of Chronic Back Pain
Lower back pain is incredibly common, and it can be very expensive to treat. According to one estimate, the direct and indirect costs of chronic back pain amount to $100 billion every year in the U.S. alone.
Low-Back Pain Is a Problem
The authors of a new study comment, "One factor explaining these enormous costs is the high rate of recurrence and chronic disability related to low-back disorders." They estimate that ten percent of low-back pain patients account for more than 80 percent of the costs related to back pain.
Study Low-Back Pain Prevention
Because of the huge costs of treating low-back pain, many studies have focused on prevention. One recent study examined the role of chiropractic adjustments in treating chronic lower back pain. The study involved 30 participants whose back pain had lasted at least 6 months. The study began with one treatment-free month, enabling the researchers to observe a 'control period' of untreated back-pain symptoms.
Following this initial period, half of the patients underwent intensive chiropractic adjustments, including 12 treatments in one month, followed by no treatments for the next nine months. The other group received the same initially intensive treatment, along with maintenance chiropractic sessions every 3 weeks for a period of nine months. At the end of this period, researchers examined both groups.
The study authors found that:
- Both groups of patients experienced a reduction in pain. Even without follow-up visits, an intensive month of chiropractic treatments reduced pain levels.
- Disability levels showed a different response. Patients who received no continuing treatment found that disability levels returned to pre-treatment levels, while those who received maintenance treatments saw continued improvements in their disability scores over the nine-month study period.
The authors conclude that their research appears to confirm the idea that low-back pain and disability are reduced following chiropractic spinal adjustments. They added:
"It also shows the positive effects of preventive chiropractic treatment in maintaining functional capacities and reducing the number and intensity of pain episodes after an acute phase of treatment. Maintenance chiropractic care involving spinal manipulation combined with other treatment modalities (exercises, pain management program) should be investigated. Such combined interventions may have a critical influence on pain, disability, and return to work."
Descarreaux M, Blouin JS, Drolet M, Papadimitriou S, Teasdale N. Efficacy of preventive spinal manipulation for chronic low-back pain and related disabilities: a preliminary study. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2004;27:509-514.
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Fortunately, a recent study offers hope to sciatica patients: chiropractic care can speed the recovery from sciatica flare ups and allow patients to return to work sooner (2).
The study evaluated 44 Norwegian workers after they came to the hospital with severe sciatica pain. Most of those patients had been experiencing pain for three or more weeks prior to their hospital visit.
The hospital chiropractor examined each patient to evaluate his/her posture and gait, range of motion, and palpation of the lumbar spine.
The chiropractic then performed various joint adjustments to the spine and other limbs that had been injured through patients compensating for pain. Ice treatment was also used to relieve soft tissue soreness.Patients were treated daily in the hospital and later three times a week for the first two weeks. Some patients needed additional follow-up treatment but typically did not exceed 14 treatments.
In matter of 21 days, 91% of patients returned to work full-time. Two patients returned to work part time. Researchers concluded this study demonstrates the potent benefits of collaboration between chiropractors and orthopedic surgeons. Chiropractic care can put an end to your sciatica pain so you can begin living your life fully again.
Posted in chiropractic, Chiropractic News, Sciatica, sciatica treatment, Understanding Sciatica
- Arana E, Marti-Bonmati L, Vega M, et al. Relationship between low back pain, disability, MR imaging findings and health care provider. Skeletal Radiology 2006;35(9):641-7.
- Orlin JR, Didriksen A. Results of chiropractic treatment of lumbopelvic fixation in 44 patients admitted to an orthopedic department. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2007;30:135-139.