Got an achy back? You're better off going to a chiropractor than popping another pain pill, suggests the results of a new study.
The study, published in the medical journal Spine, shows that that chiropractic adjustments are more effective than a drug for easing back pain.
To compare the efficacy of drugs and chiropractic, researchers tested the effects of spinal adjustments and a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug called diclofenac. They divided 38 patients with acute back pain into three treatment groups. One group received spinal adjustments and a placebo drug; the second group received sham adjustments and real diclofenac; and the control group received sham adjustments and a placebo drug.
While both the active treatment groups improved, patients receiving spinal adjustments were significantly better off than patients taking diclofenac. They experienced greater improvements in physical disability, function, time off work, and rescue medication.
This led researchers to conclude that "spinal manipulation was significantly better than non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac and clinically superior to placebo."
These findings add to the growing body of research showing that chiropractic is more effective than drugs for back pain and sciatica. And it's easy to see why. While drugs temporarily dull the pain, they do little to treat the root of the problem. Instead, chiropractic can relieve symptoms while addressing the underlying cause of pain.
von Heymann, et al. Spinal high-velocity low amplitude manipulation in acute nonspecific low back pain: a double-blinded randomized controlled trial in comparision with diclofenac and placebo. Spine 2013; 38 (7): 540-48. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0b013e318275d09c.
Many athletes utilize chiropractic treatments following an injury or a strenuous workout. New research suggests that athletes could also boost their athletic performance through chiropractic adjustments.
The study involved 18 professional Brazilian judo athletes. Half received chiropractic adjustments to their cervical spine, located in the neck. The other half received a placebo treatment. Researchers examined the effect of the treatment by evaluating the athletes' grip strength, because judo relies heavily on muscle forces in the hands and arms.
The researchers measured grip strength before and after each cervical spinal manipulation. Following just three treatment sessions, the athletes in the chiropractic group had an overall improvement in grip strength of 10% on the left side and 16% on the right side, which is considered statistically significant. The placebo group did not experience significant improvements in grip strength. After analyzing the data, the researchers concluded that the chiropractic care enhanced grip strength in judo athletes.
Additional research is needed to fully understand the benefits of chiropractic care for athletes, though this study shows exciting results. In 2010, another study showed chiropractic sports interventions substantially reduces the risk of lower-limb injuries among football players. Chiropractic care offers a number of potential benefits for athletes, including injury prevention, enhanced recovery, and improved peak performance.
Hoskins W, Pollard H. The effect of a sports chiropractic manual therapy intervention on the prevention of back pain, hamstring and lower limb injuries in semi-elite Australian Rules footballers: a randomized control trial. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2010;11:64.
Most people think of chiropractic as effective way to treat back pain. While this is true, dozens of medical studies show that chiropractic can alleviate a number of other health conditions, while promoting general health and wellness.
- Ease the pain of aging in adults with scoliosis, spinal degeneration, and osteoarthritis in the knee, hip, and hands
- Heal damaged nerves causing the radiating pain associated with disc herniation, sciatica, carpal tunnel syndrome, and more
- Decrease pregnancy-related pelvic and back pain
- Reduce patient reliance on pain medication to manage migraines and cervicogenic headaches
- Improve recovery from auto injuries like whiplash, neck pain, TMJ disorders, and tinnitus
- Treat and prevent sports injuries like muscle strains and injuries to the shoulders, back, and lower limbs
- Soothe symptoms of fibromyalgia
- Boost immunity
- Reduce stress hormones
- Lower blood pressure
Haas M, Spegman A, Peterson D, Aickin M, Vavrek D. Dose response and efficacy of spinal manipulation for chronic cervicogenic headache: a pilot randomized controlled trial. The Spine Journal 2010; 10: 117-128.
Tuchin P, Pollard H, Bonello R. A randomized controlled trial of chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy for migraine. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2000; 23 (2): 91-95.
Jull G, Trott P, Potter H, et al. A randomized controlled trail of exercise and manipulative therapy for cervicogenic headache. Spine 2002; 27(17):1835-1843.
Dizziness Lystad RP, Bell G, et al. Manual therapy with and without vestibular rehabilitation for cervicogenic dizziness: a systematic review. Chiropractic and Manual Therapies 2011;19(1):21
Alcantara J, Plaugher G, Klemp DD, Salem C. Chiropractic care of a patient with temporomandibular disorder and atlas subluxation. Journal of Maniuplative and Physiological Therapeutics 2002; 25(1):63-70.
DeVocht JW, Schaeffer W, Lawrence DJ. Chiropractic treatment of temporomandibular disorders using the activator adjusting instrument and protocol. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine 2005; 11(6):70-3.
Bronfort G, Evans R, Anderson A, Svendsen K, Bracha Y, and Grimm R. Spinal Manipulation, medication, or home exercise with advice for acute and subacute neck pain: a randomized trial. Annals of Internal Medicine 2012; 156 (1): 1-10.
Woodward MN, Cook JCH, Gargan MF, Bannister GC. Chiropractic treatment of chronic 'whiplash' injuries. Injury: International Journal of the Care of the Injured 1996;27(9):643-645.
Boyles RE, Ritland BM, Miracle BM, Barclay DM, Faul MS, Moore JH, et al. The short-term effects of thoracic spine thrust manipulation on patients with shoulder impingement syndrome. Manual Therapy 2009;14:37580
Balthazard P, et al. Manual therapy followed by specific active exercises versus a placebo followed by specific active exercises on the improvement of functional disability in patients with chronic non specific low back pain: a randomized controlled trial. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2012; 13: 162. doi:10.1186/1471-2474-13-162.
Cifuentes M, Willetts J, Wasiak R. Health maintenance care in work-related low back pain and its association with disability recurrence. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 2011; 53(4): 396-404.
von Heymann W, Schloemer P, et al. Spinal HVLA-manipulation in acute nonspecific LBP: A double blinded randomized controlled trial in comparison with diclofenac and placebo. Spine 2012; doi: 10.1097/BRS.0b013e318275d09c.
Teodorczyk-Injeyan JA, McGregor M, Ruegg R, Injeyan HS. Interleukin 2-regulated in vitro antibody production following a single spinal manipulative treatment in normal subjects. Chiropractic & Osteopathy 2010; 18:26.
Bakris G, Dickholtz M, Meyer PM, Kravitz G, et al. Atlas vertebra realignment and achievement of arterial pressure goal in hypertensive patients: a pilot study. Journal of Human Hypertension 2007;21:347-352.
Ogura, Takeshi and Manabu Tashiro, Mehedi,Shoichi Watanuki, Katsuhiko Shibuya, Keiichiro Yamaguchi, Masatoshi Itoh, Hiroshi Fukuda, Kazuhiko Yanai. Cerebral metabolic changes in men after chiropractic spinal manipulation for neck pain. Alternative Therapies. 2011; 17 (6): 12-17.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome/Wrist Pain
De-la-llave-Rincon, A. Response of pain intensity to soft tissue mobilization and neurodynamic technique: a series of 18 patients with chronic carpal tunnel syndrome. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2012; doi:10.1016/j.jmpt.2012.06.002.
Pollard H, Ward G, Hoskins W, and Hardy K. The effect of a manual therapy knee protocol on osteoarthritic knee pain: a randomised controlled trial. The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association 2008; 52(4):229-42.
Brantingham JW, Globe GA, Cassa TK, et al. A single-group pretest posttest design using full kinetic chain manipulative therapy with rehabilitation in the treatment of 18 patients with hip osteoarthritis. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapy 2012; 33(6): 445-57
Villafañe JH, Silva GB, and Chiarotto A. Effects of passive upper extremity joint mobilization on pain sensitivity and function in participants with secondary carpometacarpal osteoarthritis: a case series. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2012; 35(9): 735-42.
Morningstar, Mark W. "Outcomes for adult scoliosis patients receiving chiropractic rehabilitation: a 24-month retrospective analysis." Journal of Chiropractic Medicine 2011; 10: 179-184.
McMorland G, Suter E, Casha S, du Plessis SJ, Hurlbert RJ. Manipulation or microdiskectomy for sciatica? A prospective randomized clinical study. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2010; 33(8): 576-584.
Howell ER. Pregnancy-related symphysis pubis dysfunction management and postpartum rehabilitation:two case reports. Journal of Canadian Chiropractic Association 2012; 56 (2):102-111.
Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction
Kamali, Fahimeh and Esmaeil Shokri. The effect of two manipulative therapy techniques and their outcome in patients with sacroiliac joint syndrome. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies 2012; 16: 29-35.
Christensen KD, Buswell K. Chiropractic outcomes managing radiculopathy in a hospital setting: a retrospective review of 162 patients. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine 2008; 7 (3): 115-25.
Rodine RJ, Vernon H. Cervical radiculopathy: a systematic review on treatment by spinal manipulation and measurement with the Neck Disability Index. Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association 2012;56(1):18-28.
Panton LB, Figueroa A, Kingsley JD, et al. Effects of resistance training and chiropractic treatment in women with fibromyalgia. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 2009;15(3):321-328.
Chiropractic adjustments were just as effective as epidural injections for patients with back pain in a new study -- without the risks and at lower cost.
The findings show that chiropractic can significantly reduce pain in patients with lumbar disc herniation, and is less expensive than medical treatment.
Lumbar epidural injections are frequently used for back pain and sciatica in patients with lumbar disc herniation, failed back surgery syndrome, and spinal stenosis. During the procedure, a physician injects a high dose of pain medication, and sometimes steroids, into the area of the lumbar spine around the damaged nerve. This temporarily reduces inflammation and pain.
Although the injections are widely used, controversy lingers due to the lack of a studies with placebo controls, and questions about the effects of steroids versus anesthetic alone. Side effects of steroids include a weakening of muscles and spinal bones around the affected nerve and a disruption of the body's natural hormone balance. It's also unclear whether epidural injections are more effective than other conservative treatments for lumbar disc herniation.
After one month of treatment, both groups experienced significant improvements. Of the patients under chiropractic care, 76.5% said they were "much better" or "better" compared to 62.7% of NRI patients. Sixty percent of chiropractic patients had a significant reduction in pain compared to 53% of NRI patients. These slight differences were not statistically significant.
While none of the chiropractic patients received surgery, three of the NRI patients eventually opted for an operation.
Since the treatments were considered equally effective, the cost analysis became even more important for comparing both treatments, the researchers pointed out. On average, one month of chiropractic adjustments was less expensive than NRI ($558 vs. $729). Their analysis included only the "minimum cost" of NRIs, and did not take into account other costs that are frequently tacked on like additional consultations with clinicians, multiple injections, or possible surgery. Additionally, treatment cost for chiropractic patients may have been slightly higher than normal since they were required to receive an MRI to be in the study. Many chiropractic patients do not receive MRI because imaging guidelines do not recommend MRIs for patients with lumbar disc herniation in most cases. In contrast, MRIs are typically performed before injections or other more invasive procedures.
Although randomized trials are needed to confirm these results, the authors concluded that, "There were no significant differences in outcomes between the more universally accepted treatment procedure of NRI compared to SMT."
This study suggest that patients can experience substantial relief from chiropractic care without worrying about the side effects of steroids or drugs. It may even save them money, since research suggests that chiropractic patients have lower annual medical costs compared to patients under traditional care.
Peterson, CK, et al. Symptomatic Magnetic Resonance Imaging-confirmed lumbar disk herniation patients: a comparative effectiveness prospective observational study of 2 age- and sex-matched cohorts treated with either high-velocity, low-amplitude spinal manipulative therapy or imaging-guided lumbar nerve root injections. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2013; doi: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2013.04.005.
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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.