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Posted on 11-25-2013

The Difference in Effectiveness of Medical vs. Chiropractic Care
In The Treatment of Acute and Chronic Back Pain

Have you ever considered what type of provider is the best suited to treat back pain?  Since there are so many treatment options available today, it is quite challenging to make this decision without a little help.

To facilitate, a study looking at this very question compared the effectiveness between medical and chiropractic intervention.  Over a 4-year time frame, 2780 patients were followed with questionnaires. Low Back Pain patients were treated using conventional approaches by both MDs (Medical Doctors) and DCs (Doctors of Chiropractic).

Chiropractic treatments included spinal manipulation, physical therapy, an exercise plan, and self-care education.  Medical therapies included prescription drugs, an exercise plan, self-care advice and about 25% of the patients received physical therapy.

The study focused on present pain severity and functional disability (activity interference) measured by questionnaires mailed to the patients. It was reported that chiropractic was favored over medical treatment in the following areas:

•    Pain relief in the first 12 months (more evident in the chronic patients)
•    When low back pain radiated below the knee (more evident in the chronic patients)
•    Chronic low back pain patients with no leg pain (during the first 3 months)

Similar trends favoring chiropractic were seen for disability but were of smaller magnitude.  All patient groups saw significant improvement in both pain and disability over the four year study period.

Acute patients saw the greatest degree of improvement with many achieving symptom relief after 3 months of care.

This study also found early intervention reduced chronic pain and, at year 3, those acute low back pain patients who received early intervention reported fewer days of low back pain than those who waited longer for treatment.  

While both medical care and chiropractic treatment approaches helped, it's quite clear from the information reported that chiropractic should be utilized first.

These findings support the importance of early intervention by chiropractic physicians and make the most sense for those of you struggling with the question of who to see for your lower back pain.

My recommendation is to try chiropractic care first. If it is going to help you, it will do so quickly (2-6 weeks). If it fails to help, you can be referred for appropriate diagnostic imaging and/or referred for specialist evaluation.

If you, or someone you know, is experiencing acute or chronic back pain, please contact Mid-Atlantic Spinal Rehab & Chiropractic at (443) 842-5500. We would be glad to help!

Dr. Gulitz

The above was reproduced with permission of Dr. Ben Altadonna and "The Practice Building Alliance."

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