In 2003, SPINE produced a randomized clinical trial comparing medication, acupuncture, and spinal manipulation for chronic spine pain. The medication which was predominately used in this study was either Celebrex, Vioxx, or paracetamol. Chiropractic care was predominately high-velocity, low amplitude adjustments at a frequency of two treatments per week.
They looked at both chronic cervical and lumbar spine pain. The average patient in the medication group had pain for 4.5 years; for the acupuncture group it was 6.4 years; and for the spinal manipulation group the average duration of pain was 8.3 years. The maximum treatment duration was 9 weeks.
The researchers found that "...for chronic spinal pain syndromes, it appears that spinal manipulation provided the best overall short-term results, despite the fact that the spinal manipulation group had experienced the longest pretreatment duration of pain."
This finding is extremely significant, as many patients with chronic pain end up being referred to a pain management physician or neurologist. Often, these physicians choose to treat chronic pain with increasing quantities of medications, eventually leading the way for narcotics. Orthopedic surgeons and primary care physicians encounter patients with chronic spine pain every day in practice. It is imperative they know the benefits of conservative chiropractic care before relying on the medications afforded by a pain management doctors.
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