We’ve Got a Bone To Pick: Medication vs. Acupuncture vs. Chiropractic For Back Pain
We’ve Got a Bone To Pick
24 of them, to be exact, because when it comes to treating spine pain most individuals aren’t getting the whole story on treatment options.
To be fair, treating pain can be confusing, and there are plenty of questions back pain sufferers need to answer for themselves. What are they going to do to control pain in the short term, who are they going to see first to get it fixed, what treatment options are they going to choose and how are what kind of effects are those treatment options going have long term?
It’s no secret that anti-inflammatories, painkillers and muscle relaxers have been the go-to choice for chronic spinal pain for many many years, but new guidelines from the American College of Physicians, the American Pain Society, the FDA and more are all saying hold the meds and explore other options first. Why? Because study after study shows that patients with chronic spinal pain are finding consistent improvements with chiropractic care far beyond what medication can offer.
Chiropractic vs. Acupuncture vs. NSAID Medication
Spine Journal recently published a study comparing acupuncture, chiropractic and medication for treating chronic spine pain, and chiropractic had results head and shoulders above both medication and acupuncture. The official title of the study is “Chronic spinal pain: a randomized clinical trial comparing medication, acupuncture, and spinal manipulation.” For those not super familiar with the world of medical research, a randomized clinical trial is really the most esteemed type of study, especially one published in a prestigious peer-reviewed journal such as Spine.
The researchers from the University of Queensland randomly assigned 115 chronic neck and/or low back pain subjects into three groups: daily Celebrex or Vioxx (NSAIDs), needle acupuncture twice per week, or chiropractic care twice per week. They followed each of the groups for nine weeks and measured the change in pain via the Oswestry pain scale and the visual analog scale, the two simplest and most utilized methods of measuring pain levels. To say the results were both statistically and clinically significant is an understatement: the change in pain levels for those individuals with chronic back pain were unbelievably in favor of spinal manipulation.
|Average Duration of Spine Pain||8.3 years||4.5 years||6.4 years|
|Low Back Pain Resolved||50% of patients||15% of patients||0% of patients|
|Experienced an Adverse Reaction||0%||0%||6%|
|Improvement in Overall Health||47%||15%||18%|
50% of the chiropractic patients were totally pain-free after 9 weeks, even though they were the group who had been suffering with pain the longest! Compare that to 15% in the acupuncture group and literally 0% for the medication group. And that’s without the risks and warnings associated with NSAIDs: thousands of individuals every year end up in emergency rooms or requiring additional care as a result of taking NSAIDs.
Long-Term Effectiveness, Too!
What’s more, when they followed up with these patients after 12 months, it was found that the patients who were assigned to spinal manipulation retained their improvements far, far longer. The researchers concluded:
“The overall results of this extended follow-up efficacy study appears to favor the application of manipulation” which successfully achieves long-term benefits in chronic spinal pain syndrome patients.
“Patients who have chronic mechanical spinal pain syndromes and received spinal manipulation gained significant broad-based beneficial short-term and long-term outcomes.”
“In patients with chronic spinal pain syndromes, spinal manipulation, may be the only treatment modality of the assessed regimens that provides broad and significant long-term benefit.”
The Bottom Line
It shows what we know to be the case and science proves to be the truth: every spinal pain patient should be exploring chiropractic as a first option before any other more-invasive treatment. The bottom line is that the breadth and depth of chiropractic research has never been better than it is today, and this study proves it again.
Know someone who’s suffering from chronic spine pain? At Ascent Chiropractic we correct problems in the spine using low-force chiropractic techniques combined with the best of physical therapy modalities to get results that are unmatched anywhere. If you’re in the Brookfield, Wauwatosa or New Berlin areas and suffering with back or neck pain, we’d love to help. To make an appointment at Ascent Chiropractic, call 262-345-4166 or schedule an appointment with our online scheduling app.
Giles LG, Muller R. Chronic spinal pain: a randomized clinical trial comparing medication, acupuncture, and spinal manipulation. Spine 2003 Jul 15;28(14):1490-502.