Newest Research Showing the Benefits of Chiropractic Adjustments (Spinal Manipulative Therapy) for Acute Low Back Pain

Newest Research Showing the Benefits of Chiropractic Adjustments (Spinal Manipulative Therapy) for Acute Low Back Pain

Dr. Romana Schmidt, DC

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Low back pain (LBP) is on the rise and many people suffering with acute LBP resort to over-the-counter medications or even stronger meds such as opioids. Once you have experienced LBP, there is an 80% risk of a reoccurrence within the fist year and this is very high! With a looming epidemic of opioid usage, it is encouraging to see that new research is emerging to confirm that spinal manipulation is indeed an effective and safe treatment option for patients with uncomplicated acute low back pain!

A recent study, published in the reputable Journal of the American Medical Association, garnered a lot media attention. The most recent scientific literature published in this review demonstrated and supported non-pharmacological interventions for low back pain, which includes spinal manipulative therapy (chiropractic adjustments)! There was a significant improvement for both a reduction of pain and improved function at follow-up and up to 6 weeks post treatment.

As a chiropractor, I also feel that LBP is on the rise due to the increase in chronic postural strains from sitting at a desk all day, the increase in sedentary lifestyles, and the heavy use of cellphones, laptops, and iPads. In practice, Chiropractic care has shown to be an effective treatment option for those patients suffering from acute LBP as well as preventing recurring episodes through rehabilitative exercises and postural education.

Chiropractors offer a variety of conservative treatment options for LBP such as:

•      Spinal manipulative therapy
•      Soft tissue therapy
•      Rehabilitative exercises
•      Acupuncture

A common cause of low back pain comes from an irritated or restricted facet joint within the spine. There are two facet joints joining together an upper and lower vertebral body to make up the bony spinal column that protects the delicate spinal cord. They are located posterior to the spine and help to stabilize and support the spine. A facet joint is a synovial joint meaning it can move, which is what allows us to bend our back in multiple directions. If a facet joint becomes irritated it usually causes the person pain with bending in certain positions. Its natural movement becomes restricted with tight tissue surrounding the injury thus decreasing its movement even further.

Current research studies have shown that these “dysfunctional spinal segments lead to changes in the information that the spine sends to the brain…patients with mechanical low back pain display alterations in the way their brains recruit their trunk muscles compared with people who do not have low back pain.”  A common cause is from postural stress causing repetitive wear and tear to the joints from sitting too much and we don’t want this to stick around too long!

How does Spinal Manipulative Therapy work?

Spinal manipulative therapy, an adjustment, is a manual therapy technique that can be performed by a qualified practitioner where it falls under their scope of practice, such as a chiropractor. When the adjustment is performed, the doctor applies a thrust maneuver with little depth to release the restricted joint. In most cases you will hear a ‘pop’ sound, but this is not necessary to get the desired result! The popping sound you hear when you get adjusted is the release of gas within the facet joint.

 A facet joint restriction is “a dysfunctional area in the spine that negatively affects health and wellbeing, due to its influence on the nervous system.”

 Benefits of a spinal adjustment:

•      Reduction in pain
•      Reduced tissue tightness in the surrounding area
•      Improved movement at that level of the spine
•      Improved sensory information going to the brain
•      Improved recruitment of core musculature to protect the spine when we move

If you are suffering from low back pain, get assessed by a chiropractor to see if spinal manipulation is an appropriate treatment option for you.

~ Dr. Romana

Haavik, H. The Reality Check: A quest to understand Chiropractic from the inside out. Haavik Research, 2014.

Paige N, Miake-Lye I, Booth M et al. Association of spinal manipulative therapy with clinical benefit and harm for acute low back pain: systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA 2017; 317(14): 1451-1460.

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Dr. Romana Schmidt is a chiropractor in Ottawa, Canada. You can read more about Dr. Romana on her profile page, or on her website