Research: Chronic Spinal Pain comparing medication, acupuncture and spinal manipulation

As a Chiropractor and Athletic Therapist I treat a lot of backs and necks.  Approximately 80% of the population will have back pain in their lifetime. Between 6 and 22% of people have chronic neck pain. Four to 10% of people will experience chronic back pain.

Millions of dollars are spend caring for people with chronic spinal pain.  For neck pain, in Australia, the direct cost of medical examinations and therapies is $94 million and for lower back pain it is $390 million.  This is a huge expense on our society and also a big physical, psychological burden on those suffering with chronic pain.

People grasp at any therapy that promises them relief.  Research is working on figuring out what method is better. Take the time to read the infographic but here are the highlights of their findings.


The highest proportion of early (asymptomatic status) recovery was found for manipulation (27.3%), followed by acupuncture (9.4%) and medication (5%). Manipulation achieved the best overall results for functional impairment. However, on the VAS (pain rated on a scale of 0 to 10) for neck pain, acupuncture showed a better result than manipulation (50% vs 42%).


Spinal manipulation, which can be the only form of a care by a chiropractor or a part care, shows to improve function and pain in those with chronic back pain.  The paper also indicates that it is not the only form.  Acupuncture, another form of care that I provide also shows to benefit chronic back pain

Giles LGF, Muller R. Chronic spinal pain: a randomized clinical trial comparing medication, acupuncture, and spinal manipulation. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2003;28(14):1490-502; discussion 1502-3.

A Spinal Manipulative Therapy or Lumbar Nerve Root Injections comparative study

Herniated discs, especially those that result in pain down the leg are troubling for  athletes, weekend warriors or just the regular Joe/Jane.  I am sure there are people who avoid seeing a chiropractor because they have been told that they have a herniated disc. They have been told by others that a chiropractic adjustment would make them worse and to not go see one.

I treat people with herniated discs, sciatic, and back pain every day.  This is what I treat the most in my practice.  Spinal Manipulative Therapy, the chiropractic adjustment,  is often a part of a person’s treatment.  It does help and this paper shows that. The paper even shows that spinal manipulation has similar effects to medical procedures.