Neck Pain Study Reinforces Use of Chiropractic, Other Conservative Options
Arlington, Va.— A new study published this month in the Annals of Internal Medicine finds spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) and exercise more effective at relieving neck pain than pain medication. The research reinforces the use of conservative care options as a first line of defense against pain, according to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA).
The study divided participants into three groups that received either SMT (adjustments) from a doctor of chiropractic (DC), pain medication (over-the-counter pain relievers, narcotics and muscle relaxants) or exercise recommendations. After 12 weeks, about 57 percent of those who met with DCs and 48 percent who exercised reported at least a 75 percent reduction in pain, compared to 33 percent of the people in the medication group. After one year, approximately 53 percent of the drug-free groups still reported at least a 75 percent reduction in pain; compared to just 38 percent pain reduction among those who took medication.
The study also found that despite experiencing limited pain relief, people in the drug group continued using a higher amount of medication more frequently throughout the follow-up period. This finding underscores concerns raised in an April 2011 government report that indicated prescription drug abuse in the U.S. has reached crisis level.
I have written many articles about the risk of long-term medication use to treat pain. The risks, side effects, and limited efficacy seem unreasonable when typically our patients find we can get to the root cause of the pain with chiropractic, applied kinesiology, muscle work, and home exercises,” says Andrew Cohen, DC, a chiropractor in downtown San Francisco. “There are certainly times when medications should be used in conjunction with active care, but, as this study demonstrates, to achieve lasting relief, patients need to restore normal movement and strength.”
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