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Chiropractic Research

The Power of Chiropractic Care

A Look at Chiropractic Research

"Chiropractors get a boost and surgeons a setback in government supported guidelines on how to treat low back pain", so said the opening statements in a front page article in a December 1994 issue of USA Today. The article gives another boost to the fastest growing health care profession in the United States, and patients some much needed help with America's second most common health complaint. The article was released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as part of the new government guidelines regarding the most effective treatments for low back pain. Other recommendations of the study showed that a person should have no more than 3 days of bed rest and engage in low stress exercises such as walking or swimming as soon as possible. Going to your medical docotr for a prescription is also not recommended, since the study found that over the counter drugs were just as effective. Prescription drugs and surgery were not the only modes of treatment that received a set back. Most physical therapy modalities such as traction, massage, diathermy, ultrasound, electrical stimulation and back braces, along with invasive procedures such as acupuncture or injection of steroids or pain killers were also found to have no proven benefit for the treatment of low back symptoms. The results of this study are not new. In fact, all of these recommendations are currently part of a conservative chiropractic approach to the treatment of low back pain.

In the past, the Chiropractic profession has depended on patient results and word of mouth to substantiate their claims of success. However, with recent studies conducted throughout the world on the benefits of chiropractic care have found that the spinal adjustment, sometimes called manipulation, is cost effective, safe and beneficial. Another extensive study was done in 1993 on the cost-effectiveness and efficacy of chiropractic care. It was commissioned by the Ontario Ministry of Health of Ottawa in Ontario Canada and was called the Magna Report. The study found that not only is chiropractic cost effective, but that it is more effective than many other accepted types of care. "On the evidence, particularly the most scientifically valid clinical studies, spinal manipulation as applied by chiropractors is shown to be more effective than alternative treatment for low-back pain. Many medical therapies are of questionable validity or are clearly inadequate."

The RAND Study was completed in 1992 by the RAND Corporation, in Santa Monica, California. The study was noteworthy in that it was the first time that representatives of the medical community went on record stating that spinal manipulation is an appropriate and effective treatment for low-back conditions. In summary, the study showed that 50% of the patients who received a chiropractic adjustment were free of pain in one week, compared to only 27% of those treated with bed rest.

In June of 1990, the British Medical Journal published a research paper by T.W. Meade, a medical doctor, concerning a comparison of chiropractic care to other forms of treatment (Corset wearing and standard physical therapy) for low-back pain. The result of this study can best be summarized by Dr. Meade. "For patients with low-back pain in whom manipulation is not contraindicated, chiropractic almost certainly confers worthwhile, long term benefit in comparison to hospital outpatient management."

In August of 1991, the Journal of Occupational Medicine published a study examining the cost comparisons between medical and chiropractic providers for low-back injuries with identical diagnostic codes. It concluded that compensation costs for lost work time for patients who received chiropractic care were $68.38, compared to $668.39 for those who received standard, non-surgical medical treatment. In fact, the number of work days lost was nearly ten times higher than for those receiving chiropractic care.

Where does all of this research lead us? Without a doubt, chiropractic care is the most cost effective and beneficial treatment for low-back pain. Unfortunately there are still a lot of misconceptions in both the medical community and the public concerning chiropractic care. However, the only unfortunate thing about chiropractic is that this is the first battle on the health care front where chiropractic has been proven effective. However, in my own practice I treat people suffering from headaches to whiplash and from sinusitis to immune suppression. The close relationship between the spine and the nervous system, which is the communication system of the body, has still not been researched. Interferences in this system interfere with the persons health and inhibit their healing potential. Like most things in life, research is way behind accepted practice, and in essence is old news. For now, the chiropractic profession will continue to turn on the lights and let the body heal itself.