Posted on Health Tips

New Study Sheds New Light on Chiropractic Care

We  recently published the results of a study  that closely examined the effectiveness of chiropractic care. We recruited members of a large health maintenance organization, Kaiser Permanente Northwest. We contacted patients with back or neck pain who had been referred for chiropractic care by their doctors and enrolled these patients in the study.  At the same time, we identified other patients who had visited the doctor for back or neck pain but had not been referred for chiropractic care, and enrolled them in the study as well.  We then followed the two groups to compare how they did. We found that both patients who had been referred for chiropractic care and those simply continued with the usual care showed significant improvements in their pain and disability over the first three months.

The study also produced some surprises.  Many people perceive that adding chiropractic care to a treatment regimen involves additional expense, but this turned out not to be true.  Referring patients to see a chiropractor did not increase the cost of overall care.  The data seemed to suggest that chiropractic care may have substituted for, rather than added to, other care within the system.  Additionally, many people have the impression that chiropractic care is a passive venture, with the patient just sitting there and receiving an adjustment. Again, this turned out not to be the case.  Our data showed that most of the time, chiropractic care involves a great deal of self-care practice, including instructions for stretching, exercise, and the like. 

We also found that there were no serious safety concerns or side effects reported by the patients who saw the chiropractors.  Hence chiropractic care provided an additional clinically viable option for patients who prefer this type of care, at no additional expense.   

These results suggest that chiropractic services can be a good choice for many patients, and that it is smart to include such care as part of a comprehensive approach to helping with back and neck pain.

The study, entitled “Comparative Effectiveness of Usual Care With or Without Chiropractic Care in Patients with Recurrent Musculoskeletal Back and Neck Pain,” is published in the September, 2018 issue of The Journal of General Internal Medicine.