[fusion_text]By Tina Beychok
Back pain is, far and away, the most common reason patients seek out chiropractic care. According to the American Chiropractic Association, 31 million Americans experience back pain at some point in their lives. It is the most common reason patients miss work and the second most common reason why they go to see their regular doctor. Furthermore, low back pain costs an astronomical amount of money. More than $50 billion a year is spent on costs related to back pain. These costs include over-the-counter or prescription medications, doctor visits, paid time lost from work, and worker’s compensation.1
Given all of these statistics, it should not be difficult to see that treating patients for low back pain can translate into a profitable business for chiropractors. Of course, to properly treat all these aching backs, chiropractors should be using the most effective techniques. This is where instrument adjusting can really shine. Several research studies have shown that instrument-assisted adjustments can provide an effective, safe treatment for lower back pain.
[/fusion_text][fusion_text]A meta-analysis can be a very powerful tool for analyzing a group of research articles on a particular topic by looking for a common factor, such as safety or efficacy. The strength of a meta-analysis is that it pools the results from several different papers. While individual papers may not show much support for a particular factor, the results from a group of papers can strengthen the results.
An article from the March 2012 issue of the Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association performed a meta-analysis on eight previously published papers on the effectiveness of instrument adjusting for treating musculoskeletal disorders, including chronic and acute low back pain.2
Taken individually, each of the eight papers may not have made a strong case for the effectiveness of instrument adjusting in treating musculoskeletal disorders. However, when the papers were subjected to a meta-analysis that pooled the results, a different picture emerged. The researchers found that the results from the pooled data showed that instrument adjustments are effective for a number of musculoskeletal disorders, including back pain: “Clinically meaningful improvements were documented in patients with acute and chronic low back or SIJ pain, acute and subacute neck pain, TMJ disorders, and trigger points in the trapezius muscle.”2
While further, larger studies should be conducted to verify these results, there is evidence that instrument assisted adjustments can alleviate acute or chronic low back pain.
1American Chiropractic Association. “Back Pain Facts & Statistics.” ACAtoday.org. http://www.acatoday.org/level2_css.cfm?T1ID=13&T2ID=68. Accessed November 2014.
2Huggins T, Luburic Boras A, Gleberzon BJ, et al. “Clinical effectiveness of the activator adjusting instrument in the management of musculoskeletal disorders: A systematic review of the literature.” J Can Chiropr Assoc. 2012:56(1);49-57.[/fusion_text]