Although chiropractors treat a range of conditions from allergies to infertility, the ailment perhaps most commonly associated with chiropractic treatment is non-specific back pain. Most people seem to recognize that if their back hurts, a spinal adjustment is a good place to start. And it’s not just people’s common sense—there is plenty of published validation for chiropractic treatment of lower back pain.
Over 31 million Americans experience back pain at any given time, and low back pain is the number-one cause of disability worldwide. The United States alone spends over $50 million a year for back-pain-related issues. In fact, low back pain is the second leading cause of doctor’s visits, behind only upper respiratory problems.
Due to the frequency of low back pain, there have been hundreds of research studies that prove the benefits of chiropractic. For example, one study examined 101 patients with acute low back pain and divided them into three groups. Group 1 receive chiropractic adjustments, Group 2 received pharmaceuticals, and Group 3 was a control group that received no treatment. Almost all of the participants in the control group dropped out of the study because they could not deal with the pain. Both Groups 1 and 2 showed improvement, though Group 1 (the chiropractic group) showed significant improvement over the pharmaceutical group.
A new research study actually reveals that back surgery fails in 74% of cases. Researchers reviewed records from 1,450 patients in the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation database who had diagnoses of disc degeneration, disc herniation, or radiculopathy, a nerve condition that causes tingling and weakness of the limbs. Half of the patients had surgery to fuse two or more vertebrae in hopes of curing low back pain. The other half had no surgery, even though they had comparable diagnoses. After two years, just 26% of those who had surgery had actually returned to work, compared to 67% of patients who didn’t have surgery. In what might be the most troubling finding, researchers determined that there was a 41% increase in the use of painkillers, specifically opiates, in those who had surgery.
In order to relieve back pain and improve general physical function, chiropractors will apply an adjustment—a high-velocity, low amplitude arm thrust—to the affected areas of the spine. The new techniques use a special device to adjust the spinal misalignment’s, whereas the more traditional treatment is done by hand.
Any type of back pain is a warning sign of internal body issues that need to be corrected. Subluxation-based chiropractors focus on getting to the root of the problem so your body can recover, heal, and work the way it was designed to.
There is ample evidence backing the efficacy of chiropractic treatments of non-specific back pain. In fact, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health has found that chiropractic adjustment produces results comparable to several other types of pain treatments. They state that “overall, studies have shown that spinal manipulation is one of several options…that can provide mild-to-moderate relief from low-back pain,” and that it “also appears to work as well as conventional treatments such as applying heat, using a firm mattress, and taking pain-relieving medications.”