Dr. Stephanie Maj discusses some important new research about chiropractic care for back pain and the benefits of maintenance care.
Many people are told by friends that once you start going to the chiropractor you have to keep going in order to keep the pain away. Chiropractors often advise their patients to go on “maintenance care” in which regular spinal adjustments are given every two or four weeks. This is thought to keep the spine and low back healthy and prevent re-injury and pain. New research further confirms this.
This new, single blinded placebo controlled study, conducted by the Faculty of Medicine at Mansoura University, conclusively demonstrates that maintenance care provides significant benefits for those with chronic low back pain.
BACKGROUND: Spinal manipulation (SMT) is a common treatment option for low back pain. Numerous clinical trials have attempted to evaluate its effectiveness for different subgroups of acute and chronic LBP previously, but the efficacy of maintenance SMT in chronic non-specific LBP has never been studied.
In this study, 60 patients with chronic, nonspecific LBP lasting at least 6 months were randomized into 3 groups:
1. One third of them received 12 treatments of sham SMT over a one-month period.
2. One third of them received 12 treatments of SMT during a one-month period, with no follow-up care during the next nine months, and
3. One third of them received 12 SMT visits during the first month, followed by “maintenance” SMT every two weeks, for the next nine months.
To determine any difference among these 3 care groups, researchers measured pain and disability scores, generic health status, and back-specific patient satisfaction at baseline, and at 1-month, 4-months, 7-months, and at 10-months
RESULTS: Patients in manipulative groups (groups 2 & 3) experienced significantly lower pain and disability scores than the sham group at the end of the first 1-month period.
At the 10-month follow-up, only the maintenance group maintained improvements in pain and disability, while the group that only received 1-months care had reverted to their pretreatment pain and disability levels.
CONCLUSIONS: This is the first medically managed trial that clearly demonstrates that maintenance care provides significant benefits to those who suffer from chronic low back
To summarize that information above: the group that received chiropractic maintenance care experienced better health and less pain. The group that received just one month of care for their back pain experienced improvement, but less than the group that stayed on for maintenance care. And both chiropractic groups did better than the group that was not adjusted at all.