Studies Show Chronic Back Pain may be Eased through Spinal Manipulation

Spinal Manipulation is a relatively safe procedure that is being used to help patients suffering from chronic back pain.

Spinal Manipulation: the words sound intimidating and dangerous, but in reality, it is a relatively safe procedure that is being used to help patients suffering from chronic back pain.

This treatment has been found by researchers to be as helpful as other common treatments such as painkillers, which can cause side effects and addiction, and physical therapy, which is costly and time-consuming.

Spinal manipulation is the type of manual treatment that a chiropractor might perform on a patient and “appears to be no better or worse than other existing therapies for patients with chronic low-back pain,” said the review.

Lead author Sidney Rubinstein, a chiropractor in private practice and a postdoctoral researcher at the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, said “The decision to refer for manipulation should be based upon costs, preferences of the patient and providers, and relative safety of all treatment options.”

According to Rubinstein, North America performs the most spinal manipulation, the procedure being that a chiropractor shifts his/her hands around a patient's spine and joints; this often produces a detectable crack-like sound.

The authors of the review searched for randomized controlled studies and located 26 studies which included 6,070 participants that met their criteria for insertion into the review; after careful consideration, however, they deemed only nine studies to be of high enough quality for their review.

The results were encouraging: spinal manipulation worked approximately as well as painkillers and physical therapy.

The treatment also seems to work agreeably for patients outside the chronic back pain sphere, including patients with restricted movement in the back, patients without psychological issues, and patients without symptoms below the knee related to the sciatic nerve.

There remains one minute stipulation, however: three of the studies included in the review investigated a type of spinal manipulation that creates a cracking noise. Their goal was to see if it was possible to deceive some patients into believing they were getting an authentic treatment, but in reality were receiving a fraudulent remedy. It is unclear if they succeeded, said Rubinstein, but one study seems to prove that patients could differentiate between the true and fake treatments.

Rubinstein reported that the studies have revealed that spinal manipulation aids roughly two-thirds of patients.

The findings appear in the latest issue of The Cochrane Library. (ANI)