With low back pain being such a common experience for so many Americans, it’s important to determine the most effective course of treatment. A recent study compared the results of treating lower back pain with chiropractic adjustments versus muscle relaxants or a sugar pill placebo.
The study comprised 146 patients between the ages of 21 and 59 who’d experienced lower back pain lasting between 2 and 6 weeks. Each subject underwent radiographic and chiropractic evaluations at the beginning of the study. Their pain was evaluated at the first visit and again at 2 and 4 weeks.
At the beginning of the study, patients were divided into three different 2 week treatment groups:
Chiropractic adjustments and placebo pill.
Muscle relaxants and fake adjustments.
A control group received placebo pill and fake adjustments.
7 treatments were given to the Chiropractic adjustment group and were tailored to fit the patient’s needs. Fake treatments were designed to mimic a normal visit length with same dialogue and procedures without an actual adjustment.
The muscle relaxant group was given several different types of drugs prescribed by doctors based on their clinical judgement, as well as their effectiveness, and adverse reactions for patients.
During the 4 weeks of the study, pain was significantly reduced for all patient groups but the group that received chiropractic care realized the greatest improvement overall. The authors
“Chiropractic was more beneficial than placebo in reducing pain and more beneficial than either placebo or muscle relaxants in [overall improvement].”
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Hoiriis KT, Pfleger B, McDuffie FC, et al. A randomized clinical trial comparing chiropractic
adjustments to muscle relaxants for subacute low back pain. Journal of Manipulative and
Physiological Therapeutics 2004;27:388-398.