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The Differences Between Spinal Manipulation and Other Forms of Treatment



In medical research pursuits, it is common to compare different treatment options for the same condition or injury. Researchers choose one or a series of things to measure, called indicators, throughout the course of the study and compare these measurements over time to determine how the treatment option has impacted the patient.

In the musculoskeletal system, there are many different conflicting opinions regarding treatment interventions for chronic back pain. While chiropractic care is focused on spinal manipulation techniques to improve chronic back pain outcomes in the patient, other individuals seek out pharmaceutical medications and needle acupuncture for treatment.

At the turn of the century, an Australian study divided 115 patients with chronic back pain into three different treatment groups; one group would receive spinal manipulation, one group would receive medication, and one group would receive needle acupuncture. These groups were administered the care pathways for the course of about 13 weeks and questionnaires were given to the patients at week 2, week 5, and week 9 of the treatment course. The questionnaires were also given at the beginning of the study to assess the baselines in the patients being studies.

Information such as the Oswestry Back Pain Disability Index, the Neck Disability Index, and the Short-Form-36 Health Survey questionnaire were contained in these questionnaires so that researchers could get a better understanding of the patient’s condition throughout the treatment course, rather than simply relying on patient interviews.

Researchers measured recovery as “asymptomatic status,” meaning that a patient had recovered if they were not showing symptoms of their chronic back pain. At the conclusion of the 13-week treatment course, the spinal manipulation treatment group had the highest percentage of patients who have recovered, with 27.3% of patients showing no symptoms. The acupuncture groups featured only 9% of patients who had recovered, with a minimal 5% of patients recovering in the medication group.

The data was proven to be statistically significant, meaning that the results of the study are truly mathematically in line with the outcomes that were achieved.  Therefore, it communicates to a variety of audiences that spinal manipulation offers a high potential for treating and sometimes eliminating chronic back pain from the musculoskeletal system.

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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Mark Morgan

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