Spinal manipulation has been a popular treatment option for people with back pain since the 1980's. It is based on the principle that dysfunction of the spinal nerves affects pain and dysfunction throughout the body and that, often, spinal misalignment is the cause of nerve dysfunction. Chiropractors, osteopathic doctors and some physical therapists perform spinal manipulation. Along with spinal realignment, those who offer spinal manipulation services often give exercise advice to help keep your spelling aligned.
Numerous studies have supported the efficacy of chiropractic care for treating back pain, finding it on par with pain-killers and physical therapy. But, like any treatment, it does not work for everyone. A 2009 study shows what researchers found when they asked which patients were most likely to benefit from spinal manipulation. The study's focus is on acute (non-chronic) back pain.
Two small studies were conducted, one with 71 patients and the second, connected to test the consistency of the first study's results, with 131 patients. Researchers identified 5 criteria that may influence effectiveness of spinal manipulation: back pain for less than 16 days, no pain around the knee, one hip with 35 degree internal rotation, lack of lumbar flexibility and low fear-avoidance score. They measured results of spinal manipulation combined with exercise therapy compared to opportunities of exercise therapy alone. The best results were found in those who met 4 or 5 of the above criteria and received spinal manipulation in addition to exercise therapy.
Researchers noted that measuring the 5 criteria above would have been difficult in a clinical setting, since this would involve administrating a survey and taking measurements of hip rotation and spinal flexibility. Using the results they obtained from both studies, the researchers were able to simplify their formula down to two criteria: back pain for less than 16 days and no pain around the knee. Patients that met both criteria exhibited a 64.6% improvement on the Oswestry disability test, compared to a 37% improvement for those who met only 1 criterion and 16.9% for those who met none. Patients with very new pain that does not radiate to the knee, then, are most likely to benefit from spinal manipulation therapy. See more on the study at http://www.aafp.org/afp/2009/0215/p318.html .
Back pain treatments cost time and, for those with no health insurance or poor coverage, money. It is natural to want an idea of how effective a treatment will be before investing yourself in it. The study above can help you decide whether or not chiropractic care or osteopathic manipulation is worth a try in your case.
Before jumping into a treatment, do your research. There are a number of natural options for back pain treatment that can be pursued before medications.