A study has just been published in the medical journal Spine titled 'Adding chiropractic manipulative therapy to standard medical care for patients with acute low back pain: the results of a pragmatic randomized comparative study'. It compared outcomes of acute low back pain patients treated either with standard medical care (consisting of pain killers, anti-inflammatories, education about self management, physical therapy and referral to a pain clinic) with patients treated with standard medical care plus chiropractic manipulative therapy (consisting of spinal manipulation and ancillary treatments as indicated, performed by a chiropractor).
At 2 and 4 week follow-up the patients treated with chiropractic manipulation combined with standard medical care reported significantly less disability and pain than did those who received standard medical care alone.
73% of patients in the group which included chiropractric manipulation reported that their pain was either completely gone, much better or moderately better. The figure was 17% in the standard medical care only group.
Finally, the group whose treatment also included chiropractic manipulation had higher satisfaction ratings of 8.9 compared with 5.4 (on an 11 point numerical rating scale) in the standard medical care only group, at 4 week follow-up.
The study does have some limitations (slightly disappointing follow-up rates especially in the standard medical care group; participants and clinicians were not able to be blinded to treatment group assignment) however the overall take home message seems to be that chiropractic treatment for patients with acute low back pain can significantly improve outcomes compared to standard medical treatment alone.
I treat a lot of back pain in my practice and this study supports what I see day to day. It also correlates with the recommendations in the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines published in 2009 (page 6-7) regarding the treatment of recurrent or persistant back pain.
Chiropractic spinal manipulation may be the missing link in your recovery from back pain!