Spinal manipulation eases back pain

Back pain can be debilitating and to keep going in a busy life it is tempting to turn to a pill to relieve the pain. New research though suggests that an equally effective and less harmful way to treat pain is to have a spinal manipulation. The added bonus is that you might be treating the cause of the pain at the same time.

It is estimated that around half of the adult population suffer from back pain each year. While the temptation to turn to painkillers may be strong given their convenience and immediate symptomatic relief, the fact remains that it is only symptoms that are being relieved. Although the pain of a sore back may be masked by a painkiller, the underlying structural problems may remain and even worsen as the pain relief may allow you to undertake activities that cause more damage.

Increasingly many people are seeking out spinal manipulation as way to treat the underlying structural problem that is causing their back pain. The effectiveness of spinal manipulation has been hotly debated with some claims, for instance, that the “popping” or “cracking” sound has a kind of placebo effect making people believe something has been done when in fact it has not.

To evaluate the effectiveness of spinal manipulation as a treatment for back pain these researchers found 26 separate studies involving more than 6000 subjects. Only nine of the studies were deemed to be rigorous enough to be included in the study.

What the researchers found was that spinal manipulation worked as well as other treatments in the relief of back pain. It seemed to work particularly well for those people with restricted movement in the back, for those who had no psychological issues related to their back pain, and for symptoms related to the sciatic nerve. Overall, spinal adjustment was found to help around 66 per cent of patients. The added benefit is that it was found to be safe.

Given the sometimes nasty side-effects that can arise from long-term consumption of pain relieving medication it would seem that spinal manipulation would be a method that is suitable for most back pain sufferers.

To really treat the cause of chronic back pain you probably need to go a step further again beyond spinal adjustment and look to the postural and muscular issues that are causing the spine to be out of alignment. To address these problems you can look to Pilates, yoga, exercise, the Alexander technique and other preventative and strengthening methods. That however, is a story for another day…

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The WellBeing Team

The WellBeing Team

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