Welcome News: Study Confirms Chiropractic Benefits

As most of my readers know, I regularly point out biased claims from organized medicine (often parroted by the mainstream press) that chiropractic is not supported by research. That’s why it’s always welcome news when studies are published that DO point out research proving the effectiveness of chiropractic.

Maurice Jones-Drew
Jaguars Running Back Maurice Jones-Drew relies on chiropractic to put him on top of his game.

The latest, a report published by Australia’s Cochrane Collaboration, confirms what may seem obviously to chiropractors and their patients — that chiropractic can be effective in helping people overcome low-back pain.

The research, led by Bruce Walker, DC, of the Murdoch University School of Chiropractic and Sports Science in Australia, analyzed a number of different techniques provided by chiropractors. Walker and his colleagues at Murdoch studied 12 randomized controlled trials that included 2,887 participants. Each trial compared combined chiropractic interventions to some other therapeutic approach to low-back pain.

The result: in the short-term (within one month after the study began), pain improved in patients treated both with chiropractic and comparison treatments. Benefits were somewhat greater in the chiropractic group , although the difference was not considered “clinically significant,” the study’s authors wrote.

“If consumers have acute or subacute back pain they can have some confidence that if they go to the chiropractor they’ll see some improvement,” Dr. Walker reported.

References: Walker BF, et al. Combined chiropractic interventions for low-back pain (Review). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Issue 4, 2010.

About the Author – Terry A. Rondberg, DC
Dr. Terry Rondberg is an outspoken supporter for research on chiropractic care for not just back pain, but total body wellness. He is founder and CEO of the World Chiropractic Alliance, and is a much sought-after speaker worldwide on the issue of drug-free chiropractic.

Back pain surgery results may be overrated

By Terry A Rondberg, DC

Months following spinal surgery for back pain, patients remember their initial pain as worse than they rated it at the time, reports a recent study in the journal Spine.

A research team, headed by Dr. Ferran Pellisé of Hospital Vall d’Hebron, Barcelona, Spain, concluded that studies relying on such after-the-fact ratings may overestimate the effectiveness of spinal surgery in relieving chronic back pain.

Lower back pain - spineThe researchers studied before-and-after ratings made by 58 patients who underwent lumbar fusion surgery for chronic low back pain. Before their operation, all patients completed standard evaluations of back pain and related disability. These prospective (“forward-looking”) ratings were compared with retrospective (“backward-looking”) ratings made an average of three years after surgery.

Patients consistently rated themselves worse than in their original questionnaires, when recalling their preoperative state. For example, on a simple 10-point scale, the patients’ original average pain rating was 7.0. On follow-up ratings, the patients recalled their pain as being significantly worse, with average rating of 8.2.

Based on the original ratings, surgery produced an average pain reduction of 3.3 points on the 10-point scale. Yet, if the recalled ratings were used, the average improvement would have been 4.6 points. Similar patterns were noted for other standard ratings of back pain and related disability.

Whether the time since surgery was shorter or longer, the extent of patient recall bias did not differ significantly. The ratings did not vary in any systematic way, so there was no way to adjust for them statistically.

Retrospective studies – in which patients are asked to remember and rate their state of health before treatment – are widely used in medical research. Few prior studies, however, have looked at how patients’ recollections measure up to actual pretreatment ratings. The use of retrospective studies to assess the results of spinal surgery has increased in recent years.

Relying on such after-the-fact pain ratings may give the impression that surgery for back pain is more effective than it actually is, the new results suggest.

“Our study shows that relying on a patient’s recall of his or her preoperative status a few months or years after surgery is not a valid method for establishing baseline status when treating low back pain,” Dr. Pellisé and colleagues concluded.

SOURCE: “Reliability of Retrospective Clinical Data to Evaluate the Effectiveness of Lumbar Fusion in Chronic Low Back Pain.” Pellise, Ferran MD; Vidal, Xavier MD, PhD; Hernandez, Alejandro MD; Cedraschi, Christine PhD; Bago, Joan MD; Villanueva, Carlos MD. Spine. 30(3):365-368

About the Author – Dr. Terry Rondberg
Terry A Rondberg, DC, is a tireless champion for drug-free chiropractic and mind-body wellness. As publisher of The Chiropractic Journal, on a monthly basis he reaches more than 70,000 chiropractors across the globe.