For many years, Chiropractic has been at the forefront of treating low back pain (LBP) with both greater patient satisfaction and less lost time at work when compared to other non-surgical treatment approaches. There have been many explanations as to why chiropractic manipulation therapy (CMT) works but many of these studies include other treatment modalities or methods and the benefits are ,therefore, not clearly derived only from CMT. A recent study has tried to clear this up and the results are very interesting!
This study included two chiropractors and two a physical therapists (PT) from Canada and the US. What is unique about this study is that they measured clinical or symptomatic improvement by tracking improvement in activity tolerance using a standard questionnaire commonly used by chiropractors and PTs all over the world, as well as changes in the spinal stiffness using a valid/reliable instrument before and after CMT was utilized. The importance of these findings is that only CMT was utilized and hence, other forms of treatment commonly utilized by chiropractors did not cloud the findings. There were 48 patients included in the study and the initial 2 treatments were administered 3-4 days apart, followed by an assessment 3-4 days after the 2nd treatment. Assessments were also performed before and after each treatment. The assessments included use of the questionnaire and a stiffness measurement using the special instrument. Also, “recruitment of the lumbar multifidus muscle” (a muscle in the low back that helps stabilize the trunk or core) was measured by ultrasound. After each treatment, significant improvement was found in the overall pain level and in reduced spinal stiffness (which remained improved 3-4 days after the last/second treatment).
The study conclusions revealed less pain, more activity tolerance and less spinal stiffness after the administration of the 2 treatments. The greatest clinical improvement was found in those who had the most dramatic reduction in stiffness after each treatment. They found that the level of muscle recruitment was directly related to the degree of spinal stiffness. They also found that patients who received thrust manipulation (CMT) had immediate improvements with reduced pain, stiffness and improved muscle recruitment measurements. However, this same effect was NOT obtained when non-thrust mobilization techniques were used. This means many non-thrust manual techniques such as mobilization, massage, and other soft tissue release methods do not create the immediate benefits that were produced by thrust manipulation.
With this new information, we are now able to explain with confidence to patients the reasons why they typically feel better after the spinal adjustment. The patient can then appreciate receiving an answer that makes clear sense and has been “proven.” It’s important to realize that the “bonus” of receiving chiropractic care for low back pain includes not only just pain reduction, but more importantly, improvement in tolerating activities such as vacuuming, washing dishes, golfing, walking and of course, working.
We realize you have a choice in who you choose to provide your health-care services. If you, a friend or family member requires care for low back pain, we sincerely appreciate the trust and confidence shown by choosing our services and look forward in serving you and your family presently and, in the future.
To schedule an appointment with one of our San Francisco Chiropractors call 415-392-2225. Mention this blog post for a complimentary consultation.