Wouldn’t it be nice if we could assess three common types of treatment for neck and back pain to determine which is the most effective? Here is a look at three studies that compared three popular forms of care for chronic spinal pain to determine the short-term and more importantly, the LONG-TERM benefits of chiropractic manipulation, acupuncture, and non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, like Advil).
The FIRST published study included a pilot group of 77 patients complaining of chronic spinal pain (neck, mid-back, or low-back pain). These patients were separated into one of the three treatment groups and received either NSAIDs, acupuncture, or chiropractic manipulation. Patients received care for four weeks with outcome measures (questionnaires) used to assess changes in pain and disability. After a 30-day time frame, only patients who received chiropractic manipulation (CM) reached a level of statistically significant improvement, supporting CM to offer the best SHORT-TERM BENEFITS for those with chronic back/neck pain.
The SECOND study included 115 patients, again randomized, to receive either one of the same three treatments, but this time the outcome data was gathered two, five, and nine weeks after the start of treatment. Again, those who received chiropractic manipulation (CM) experienced the best overall improvement at nine weeks.
The THIRD study involved follow-up from the same patient group from the SECOND study two years later. Once again, participants completed outcome assessments that measure pain and disability. This time, the results showed that only patients in the chiropractic manipulation group maintained long-term improvements in pain and disability.
There have been other studies looking at the efficacy and benefits of SMT (spinal manipulative therapy) both in comparison with other forms of care (as presented here) as well as with different conditions or diagnoses. Perhaps the most exciting results were published in 2008 by the International Bone and Joint Decade 2000-2010 Task Force on Neck Pain.
They divided patients into four groups (Group 1: Neck pain with little to no interference with activities of daily living – ADLs; Group 2: Neck pain that limits ADLs; Group 3: Neck pain with radiculopathy or radiating arm pain from a pinched nerve; Group 4: Neck pain with serious pathology such as cancer, fracture, infection, and/or systemic disease.)
The researchers concluded that chiropractic care was highly recommended especially in Grades 1 and 2 (which includes the majority of neck pain sufferers). Interestingly, many multidisciplinary physician groups now incorporate chiropractic care as part of their “team” approach, which also offer pain management in the form of medications, injections, PT, and when necessary, surgery. They have seen the value of spinal manipulation for neck pain and often seek out chiropractic because it’s safe, beneficial, and cost effective.
The temps are dropping, but that doesn’t mean you need to drop your workout routine until next spring. Cooler weather workouts can be beneficial and even enjoyable if you take proper precautions. You’ll get a good dose of Vitamin D just by being outside in the sun (something we could all use more of during the winter months), and you’ll burn more calories taking your workout outdoors vs. indoors because your body works a little harder to regulate its core temperature. So, if you’re motivated to crawl out from under your warm blanket, take these four precautionary tips into consideration.
1. Have A Plan
Always check the weather forecast before going out to exercise in cooler weather. If the prediction is for rain or the wind speed is especially gusty, you might want to opt for an indoor workout instead. Also, to prevent falls, map out your route ahead of time and avoid areas that may be wet or foggy.
2. Warm Up Properly
Stay inside for your warm up. Take 10 minutes to stationary cycle or jog in place to help get your muscles warmed up and ready for your workout.
3. Don’t Forget to Hydrate
Although you may not be drenched in sweat in the winter like you are during a summer workout, you still need to drink enough to avoid dehydration. (Plus, cooler, dry air leaches more moisture from your lungs, i.e., seeing your breath).
4. Wear the Proper Equipment
Choose the right layers of clothing that will protect your skin from the wind and cooler temps. Depending on the temperature, you might need a tight-fitting base layer (made of compression material to help wick away sweat), a middle layer for extra warmth, and an outer layer for protection from the elements (such as a windproof jacket). Choose synthetic materials for your base layer, and don’t forget about your head, hands, ears, and toes.
As with any exercise, listen to your body and don’t push yourself if it doesn’t feel right. Cooler weather may mean you have to dial back your effort just a tad until your body is acclimatized to performing in cooler temps. If you experience any pain this winter, whether it’s exercise-induced or otherwise, give us a call. Our team is ready to keep your body comfortable, regardless of the temperature.
Everyone, well at least almost everyone, has had headaches from time to time, and we all know how miserable they can make us feel. In fact, at some point in time, 9 out of 10 Americans suffer from headaches that range between mild and dull to throbbing, intense, and debilitating, sometimes to the point of requiring bed rest in a dark, quiet room.
The common reflex is to reach for that bottle of pills and pray the headache subsides so you don’t have to call in sick and lose another day of productivity when you have so much to do. Unfortunately, between the side effects of many medications designed to help headaches and the pain associated with the headache, this approach is frequently NOT the answer. So what is?
The good news is that many studies have identified spinal manipulation therapy (SMT), the main type of care utilized by chiropractors, as being very effective for popular types of headaches—in particular tension-type headaches that arise in the neck. An important 2001 study reported that SMT provided almost immediate relief for headaches that arose in the neck with SIGNIFICANTLY fewer side effects and longer-lasting results compared with commonly prescribed medications.
Another interesting study that found similar results included tracking the prevalence/frequency of headaches after treatment stopped. The authors of the study reported the patients receiving SMT had continued to experience sustained benefits throughout the following weeks, and even months, in contrast to those in a medication treatment group where headaches came back almost immediately after they discontinued treatment.
The most commonly prescribed medication for tension-type headaches are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Common over-the-counter options include ibuprofen (Advil, Nuprin, etc.) and Aleve (Naproxen). For those who can’t take NSAIDs because of blood thinning and/or stomach-liver-kidney problems, doctors commonly prescribe acetaminophen (Tylenol), but it can be hard on the liver and kidneys, especially when taken over time.
So, what can you expect from a visit to a chiropractor for your headaches? The typical approach begins with a thorough history and examination with an emphasis of evaluating the neck and its associated function. Your doctor of chiropractic may also perform tests designed to reduce pain and some that provoke a pain response to identify the “pain generator” or cause!
Because each patient is unique, the type of care provided will be individually determined based on the findings, the patient’s age, comfort, and preference of both the provider and patient.
So, the next time you find yourself reaching for pills because of headaches, remember that there are better options! Give chiropractic a try. You’ll be GLAD you did!!!
We realize you have a choice in whom you consider for your health care provision and we sincerely appreciate your trust in choosing our service for those needs. If you, a friend, or family member requires care for neck pain or headaches, we would be honored to render our services.
Content Courtesy of Chiro-Trust.org. All Rights Reserved.
Low back pain is a very common complaint. In fact, it’s the #1 reason for doctor visits in the United States! The economic burden of LBP on the working class is astronomical. Most people can’t afford to be off work for one day, much less a week, month, or more! Because of the popularity of hospital-based TV dramas over the past two decades, many people think getting an MRI of their back can help their doctor fix their lower back problem. Is this a good idea? Let’s take a look!
Patients will often bring in a CD that has an MRI of their lower back to a doctor of chiropractic and ask the ultimate question, “….can you fix me?” Or, worse, “…I think I need surgery.” Sure, it’s quite amazing how an MRI can “slice” through the spine and show bone, soft tissues, disks, muscles, nerves, the spinal cord, and more! Since the low back bears approximately 2/3 of our body’s weight, you can frequently find MANY ABNORMALITIES in a person over 40-50 years old. In fact, it would be quite odd NOT to see things like disk degeneration, disk bulges, joint arthritis, spur formation, etc.!
Hence, the “downside” of having ALL this information is the struggle to determine which finding on the MRI has clinical significance. In other words, where is the LBP coming from? Is it that degenerative disk, bulged disk, herniated disk, or the narrowed canal where the nerve travels? Interestingly, in a recent review of more than 3,200 cases of acute low back pain, those who had an MRI scan performed earlier in their care had a WORSE outcome, more surgery, and higher costs compared with those who didn’t succumb to the temptation of requesting an MRI!
This is not to say MRI, CT scans, and x-rays are not important, as they effectively show conditions like subtle fractures and dangerous conditions like cancer. But for LBP, MRI is often misleading. This is because the primary cause of LBP is “functional” NOT “structural,” so it’s EASY to get railroaded into thinking whatever shows up on that MRI has to be the problem.
Here is how we know this, when we take 1,000 people WITHOUT low back pain between ages 30 and 60 (male or female) and perform an MRI on their lower back, we will find up to 53% will have PAINLESS disk bulges in one or more lumbar disks. Moreover, we will find up to 30% will have partial disk herniations, and up to 18% will have an extruded disk (one that has herniated ALL the way out). Yet, these people are PAIN FREE and never knew they had disk “derangement” (since they have no LBP). When combining all of these possible disk problems together, several studies report that between 57% and 64% of the general population has some type of disk problem without ANY BACK PAIN!
Hence, when a patient with a simple sprain/strain and localized LBP presents with an MRI showing a disk problem, it usually ONLY CONFUSES the patient (and frequently the doctor), as that disk problem is usually not the problem causing the pain! So DON’T have an MRI UNLESS a surgical treatment decision depends on its findings. That is weakness, numbness, and non-resolving LBP in spite of 4-6 weeks of non-surgical care or unless there is weakness in bowel or bladder control. Remember, the majority of back pain sufferers DO NOT need surgery!
We realize you have a choice in whom you consider for your health care provision and we sincerely appreciate your trust in choosing our service for those needs. If you, a friend, or family member requires care for back pain, we would be honored to render our services.
Cliff Atwell, B.S., D.C.