Chiropractors can help provide some relief to low-back pain sufferers, suggest researchers.
People with low back pain can seek relief from any number of health professionals, orthopedists, physical therapists and osteopaths among them. Many choose chiropractors, which typically combine spinal manipulation with such treatments as exercise, massage, heat or electrical stimulation. This approach modestly is successful in reducing pain of recent onset and improving disability, at least for a few weeks, according to a new Cochrane review. However, the review found no evidence that chiropractic works significantly better than care provided by other clinicians.
Lead author Bruce Walker, a doctor of chiropractic at the Murdoch University School of Chiropractic and Sports Science in Australia, said that the studies analyzed earlier were "pragmatic," in that "they reflect the reality of practice, which usually involves combined interventions and not just one."
This kind of study cannot identify which particular treatment or treatments worked, "but from a consumer's point of view, that matters little, if the care they get is safe and effective," he said.
"If consumers have acute or subacute [lingering for several weeks] back pain they can have some confidence that if they go to the chiropractor they'll see some improvement," although the results are not essentially different from what they might find elsewhere, Walker said.
This review appears in the latest issue of The Cochrane Library, a publication of the Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates medical research.