Research results back up pain management chiropractic care’s top benefits
There is a large body of research showing that chiropractic continues to be the first choice for noninvasive treatment of back pain. The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) estimates that chiropractors treat as many as 35 million American adults and children each year.1
Not only are the number of patient visits increasing, but patient satisfaction is also on the rise. The ACA also noted that one consumer survey found that chiropractic care performed better than all other non-invasive pain treatments, including both prescription and over-the-counter medications, deep-tissue massage, yoga, and Pilates. Another consumer survey found that DCs were rated highest for treating low-back pain, coming in ahead of physical therapists, primary care physicians, and specialists such as neurologists or orthopedists.1
While there is absolutely no question that pain reduction is the biggest benefit of chiropractic care, it is not the only one. In fact, there has been a substantial body of evidence showing that proper chiropractic care can not only reduce pain, but provide other important benefits for your patients.
Reduced pain levels
In a 2013 article from the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, a group of 50 patients with cervical disk herniation received spinal manipulations to track improvement in pain over time.2 At the end of two weeks, more than half of the patients showed improvement in neck and arm pain from baseline measurements.
At one month, 69% showed improvement. By the end of three months, 86% showed improvement from baseline measurements.2
Reduced frequency and severity of headaches
As many as 80% of American adults suffer from occasional tension headaches (no more than one or two per month), while 3% have chronic, daily headaches. Tension headaches often involve neck, muscle, and facial pain.3
A 2014 article, published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, reported on a study of 84 adults suffering from tension headaches to determine the effectiveness of chiropractic treatment for improving cervical range of motion, pain, and headache frequency and intensity.4 Patients were randomized to receive one of three types of chiropractic treatments (manual therapy, manipulative therapy, or a combination of manual and manipulative therapy) or no treatment (control).
All groups underwent four treatment sessions over the course of four weeks, with a follow-up assessment at one month after the final treatment. At the follow-up assessment, all three groups showed significant improvement in pain perception, while the separate treatment groups showed greater effectiveness than the combined treatment group for improving cervical range of motion.4
Reduced opioid dependence
It seems as though you cannot watch the news on your television or go online without hearing about the current opioid crisis raging in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), as many as 25% of non-cancer patients taking opioids struggle with addiction.
In 2014 alone, almost 2 million such patients were addicted to prescription opioids.5 There clearly needs to a better answer to treating pain than prescription opioids.
Fortunately, a recent article from the journal Pain Medicine appears to show that proper chiropractic care can reduce the need for opioids.6 The article used a meta-analysis, which pools together the results from smaller articles to look for similarities among the conclusions, thereby strengthening the overall findings. In this case, the authors were attempting to determine the effect that chiropractic care had upon receiving an opioid prescription. They found that chiropractic patients were 64% less likely to be given an opioid prescription than those who were not receiving chiropractic treatments.
- American Chiropractic Association. Key facts and figures about the chiropractic profession. https://www.acatoday.org/News-Publications/Newsroom/Key-Facts. Accessed Dec.12, 2019.
- Peterson CK, Schmid C, Leemann S, et al. Outcomes from magnetic resonance imaging-confirmed symptomatic cervical disk herniation patients treated with high-velocity, low-amplitude spinal manipulative therapy. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. 2013 Oct;36(8):461-467.
- WebMD. Pain management and tension headaches. https://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/pain-management-tension-headaches#1. Reviewed September 2018. Accessed Dec. 12, 2019.
- Espí-López GV, Gómez-Conesa A. Efficacy of manual and manipulative therapy in the perception of pain and cervical motion in patients with tension-type headache: A randomized, controlled clinical trial. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine. 2014;13(1):4-13.
- Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. CDC Prescription Opioid Overdose Data. https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/overdose.html. Updated June 2019. Accessed Dec.13, 2019.
- Corcoran KL, Bastian LA, Gunderson CG, et al. Association between chiropractic use and opioid receipt among patients with spinal pain: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Pain Medicine. 2019 Sep 27. pii: pnz219.