Our Chiropractor Jake (from our New Malden clinic) takes us through the most recent evidence and research.
Chiropractors are known for treating back and neck pain. We do this using a range of techniques but the most famous is spinal manipulation, known by most people as ‘joint cracking.’
However, the important question is ‘does chiropractic work?’ A criticism of chiropractors in the past was that there was a lack of research to prove that chiropractic was effective. As a result, chiropractic was classed as an alternative therapy which lead to boom in research being conducted globally. So, just how effective is chiropractic? A literature review published this year in the British Medical Journal found that,
Spinal Manipulative Therapy (SMT) and mobilisation are just as effective for pain relief as other front line therapies, offering both short and long term pain relief.(Rubinstein et al. 2019)
Education on the cause of pain and self-help, as well as exercise have also been shown to be effective in the Lancet Journal series. While the NICE guidelines recommend the use of massage for low back pain. These are all tools that are used by chiropractors. We may be known for spinal manipulation, but really it’s just one tool in our bag. Most treatment plans will involve a combination of skills tailored to your needs.
What about medication?
Interestingly, paracetamol and muscle relaxants are ineffective (Foster et al. 2018) and anti-inflammatory medications should only be used alongside other therapies. This is something that hasn’t yet been taken on board by many in the medical profession. It’s important to remember that pain is essential to health. It’s a fantastic warning system, allowing you to avoid harm and not merely reflecting injury. The problem with using pain killers is that they may allow you to act in a way which delays healing. In fact, guidelines for the UK and US recommend against using medication initially. They focus on active care, self-management, physical and psychological therapies (Foster et al. 2018). These are all essential for healthy healing and pain management. Pain killers have their time and place. You might want to use them to take the edge off, but you almost certainly don’t want to remove all traces of pain.
So what can we conclude?
Yes, chiropractic does work, it’s just as effective as physiotherapy and a great option if you’re suffering from neck or back pain. If you would like to find out how our Chiropractic team might be able to help you please give us a call.
1. Rubinstein et al. Benefits and harms of spinal manipulative therapy for the treatment of chronic low back pain: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. BMJ 2019; 364 doi: (Published 13 March 2019)
2. Foster et al. Prevention and treatment of low back pain: evidence, challenges, and promising directions. Lancet 2018; 391: 2368–83. March 21, 2018
3. Brinjikji et al. Systematic Literature Review of Imaging Features of Spinal Degeneration in Asymptomatic Populations. AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2015 Jun
You can learn more about the cause of long term pain and dizziness on Jake’s Blog.