Medical vs. Chiropractic Treatment in Acute and Chronic Back Pain

Have you ever considered who is the best suited to treat back pain?  A study looking at this very question compared the effectiveness between medical and chiropractic intervention.  Over a 4-year time frame, 2780 patients were followed (initial, 2-week, 1, 3, 6, 12, 24, and 48 month intervals) with questionnaires.  Both acute (symptoms <7weeks) and chronic (symptoms >7weeks) low back pain (LBP) patients were treated using conventional approaches by both the MDs and the DCs.  Treatments from the chiropractors included spinal manipulation, physical therapy, an exercise plan, and self-care education.  Medical therapies included prescription drugs, an exercise plan, self-care advice and about 25% of the patients received physical therapy.

The study focused on present pain severity and functional capacity, measured by questionnaires that were mailed to the patients. It was reported that chiropractic was favored over medical treatment in the following areas:

♦ Pain relief in the first 12 months (more evident in the chronic patients)

♦ When LBP pain radiated below the knee (more evident in the chronic patients)

♦ Chronic LBP patients with no leg pain (during the first 3 months)

This study also found that early intervention reduced chronic pain.  While both medical and chiropractic treatment approaches helped, it’s quite clear from the information reported that chiropractic treatment approaches should be utilized first.  Not only because it is more effective, but also because it is safer and less costly.