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.

Take Control and Own Your Spine

You have the ability manage your spine

 What does it mean to own your spine?

It is quoted, in the research journals, that 80% of people will experience back pain at some point in their lifetime.  Back pain, therefore, a very big problem in our society.  This pain affects the life of the person both financially and socially. Our economy and healthcare system is also stressed because of this problem.

We are often told that our spine is inherently weak. Since we are descended from quadrupeds our spine isn’t built to be upright. Doctors may have been told you that your spine is “broken”. X-rays and MRIs show that your spine is degenerating and you have been told that if you don’t do anything about it you will end up in a wheel chair.  We may have been told that back pain is genetic and since one of our family members had back pain that’s why we have it.These all sound very scary. It also sounds like we have no control over our back. You may already feel hopeless and helpless.

You may have already felt that you have to take drastic measures by having surgery or you have been told that you need a long drawn out treatment plan to get yourself better.

Let me tell you something.  Your spine is a strong and robust structure.  It is supported by strong ligaments and strong muscles.   You actually have the ability to take control over your back pain.  You can own your spine.  It doesn’t control you. You control it.  Rather than taking a passive approach to your back pain and either living with it or just resting you need to feed it with what it needs. Movement! More specifically, the right type and amount of movement.

What “own your spine” means to me is that we have the control over it.  But what you need to do is educate yourself about it.  Learn what helps and how you can help it. These options might be exercise (bod weight, weights, yoga, pilates),  treatment from a healthcare professional (Chiropractor, Athletic Therapist, etc), changing your eating habits or managing you physical/mental stress.

Search for the hashtag #OwnYourSpine on instagram, facebook or twitter.  You will see videos of workouts that I perform, exercises that I give patients, research about the spine and treatments. If you want to share yourself being active, eating well, or managing your stress add the hashtag to your post. I’d love to follow your journey.

Dr Notley

Winnipeg Chiropractor and Athletic Therapist