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With the publication of the Chiropractic Hospital-based Interventions Research Outcomes (CHIRO) Study1 in The Spine Journal, one of the most frequently cited spine research journals in the world,2 the health care community at large may finally appreciate what the chiropractic profession has known for more than a century: Patients with acute mechanical low back pain enjoy significant improvement with chiropractic care, but little to no improvement with the usual care they receive from a family physician.

Published in the December 2010 edition of The Spine Journal, the study found that after 16 weeks of care, patients referred to medical doctors saw almost no improvement in their disability scores, were likely to still be taking pain drugs and saw no benefit with added physical therapy – and yet were unlikely to be referred to a doctor of chiropractic.

The study is “the first reported randomized controlled trial comparing full CPG [clinical practice guidelines]-based treatment, including spinal manipulative therapy administered by chiropractors, to family physician-directed UC [usual care] in the treatment of patients with AM-LBP (acute mechanical low back pain).” (Evidence-based clinical practice guidelines have been established for acute mechanical low back pain in many countries around the world, but sadly, most primary care medical doctors don’t follow these guidelines.) Researchers found that “treatment including CSMT [chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy] is associated with significantly greater improvement in condition-specific functioning” than usual care provided by a family physician.

The study criticizes a 2007 report that had derided the efficacy of spinal manipulation by pointing out that the older report based its conclusions on the outcomes of therapies performed by non-chiropractors. The 2007 study concluded that patients “do not recover more quickly with the addition of diclofenac or spinal manipulative therapy.”3 By contrast, the CHIRO study noted: “Although spinal-manipulative therapy is currently administered by many different healthcare professionals, including: chiropractors, osteopaths, orthopedic surgeons, family physicians, kinesiologists, naturopaths, and physiotherapists, the levels of training and clinical acumen vary widely. The study design used by Hancock, et al., therefore, differs from our study because [their study] did not use chiropractic spinal manipulation, and current guideline based care does not endorse any forms of spinal manipulation administered by any other practitioners.” [Italics ours]

This article was taken from DC.

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