Treating the Spine to Address Back Pain

The phrase “spinal manipulation” probably doesn’t seem especially pleasant. In fact, spinal manipulation therapy is commonly used to address nagging joint pressure and inflammation. Furthermore, a recent report contends that this type of therapy might also be useful in curbing back pain.

Doing Their Homework

This research, published in the medical journal BMJ, based its conclusions on a large pool of previously published research; nearly fifty previous trials were analyzed by the study’s authors. In total, these trials examined in impact of spinal manipulation on over 9,200 middle aged adults. This form of therapy was found to be highly beneficial when it came to treating lower back pain, to the extent that it rivaled the effectiveness of exercise, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) and painkillers.
For the BMJ study, the authors paid especially close attention to randomized controlled trials, in which participants received either an actual treatment or a placebo alternative. Some volunteers may receive no treatments whatsoever.

A Different Type of Treatment

So what is spinal manipulation anyway? In short, spinal manipulation therapy usually seeks to address back problems via the manual movement of the spine’s joints, along with massage and certain exercises. Aside from offering relief for back issues, this type of therapy can be used for neck pain, shoulder pain and perhaps even headaches. 

Upon the publication of the study, lead researcher Sidney Rubinstein stated that “at the moment, spinal manipulation is considered a second-line or adjunctive treatment option in international guidelines. These results would suggest that spinal manipulation is certainly on-par with these other recommended therapies, and can be considered an option.” 

In an email to the Reuters News Agency, the benefits of spinal manipulation were described by Christine Goertz, chief executive officer of the Spine Institute for Quality in Oskaloosa, Iowa. “Spinal manipulation may decrease pain from muscle strain, inflammation and spasm in your back muscles and/or impact the way that your body perceives pain through either the brain or the spinal cord. The most common side effects resulting from spinal manipulation are mild to moderate joint or muscle pain and/or stiffness. These symptoms generally go away on their own within a day or two.”

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