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Two New Low Back Pain Studies Favor Chiropractic Care

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Two New Low Back Pain Studies Favor Chiropractic Care

The Chiro.Org Blog

Thanks to Health Insights Today for drawing our attention to these studies!

A major randomized controlled trial on chronic low back pain was just published in the Clinical Rehabilitation Journal, involving 210 patients (140 women and 70 men) with chronic, non-specific low back pain. These individuals were randomized into 3 groups: spinal manipulation, personalized physiotherapy, or back school. [1]

Chiropractic adjusting (Spinal Manipulation) was associated with much higher functional improvements and long-term pain relief than the other 2 groups after release from care and again at the 12-month follow-up.

The difference in their improved scores is quite dramatic:

Intervention Disability Score Pain Rating
At Discharge
Spinal Manipulation 6.7 +/- 3.9 1.0 +/- 1.1
Individual Physiotherapy 4.4 +/- 3.7 1.1 +/- 1.0
Back School 3.7 +/- 4.1 0.9 +/- 1.1
After 12 months
Spinal Manipulation 5.9 +/- 4.6 1.5 +/- 1.1
Individual Physiotherapy 4.0 +/- 5.1 0.4 +/- 1.3
Back School 4.2 +/- 4.8 0.7 +/- 1.2

NOTE: These numbers indicate the reductions in scores on the Roland Morris Disability Questionnaire and the Pain Rating Scale.

The second study followed patients with lumbar radiculopathy, secondary to disk herniation. [2] A prospective observational cohort study was conducted at a multidisciplinary, integrated clinic that includes chiropractic and physical therapy health care services. Data on 49 consecutive patients were collected at baseline, at the end of conservative, nonsurgical treatment and a mean of 14.5 months after cessation of treatment. Disability was measured using the Bournemouth Disability Questionnaire (BDQ) and pain using the Numerical Rating Scale for pain. Fear beliefs were measured with the Fear-Avoidance Beliefs Questionnaire (FABQ). Patients also self-rated improvement.

RESULTS:   Mean duration of complaint was 60.5 weeks. Mean self-rated improvement at the end of treatment was 77.5%. Improvement was described as “good” or “excellent” in nearly 90% of patients. Mean percentage improvement on the BDQ was 60.4%. Numerical Rating Scale improved 4.1 points and FABQ improved 4.8 points. Clinically meaningful improvements in pain and disability were seen in 79% and 70% of patients, respectively. Mean number of visits was 13.2. After an average long-term follow-up of 14.5 months, mean self-rated improvement was 81.1%. “Good” or “excellent” improvement was reported by 80% of patients. Mean percentage improvement in BDQ was 67.4%. Numerical Rating Scale improved 4.2 points and FABQ 4.5 points. Clinically meaningful improvements in pain and disability were seen in 79% and 73% of patients, respectively.

You will find many more studies like this at our:
Low Back Pain and Chiropractic Page


1. Spinal Manipulation Compared with Back School and with Individually Delivered Physiotherapy for the Treatment of Chronic Low Back Pain: A Randomized Trial with One-year Follow-up
Clinical Rehabilitation 2010 (Jan); 24 (1): 26–36

2. A Nonsurgical Approach to the Management of Patients With Lumbar Radiculopathy Secondary to Herniated Disk: A Prospective Observational Cohort Study With Follow-Up
J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2009 (Nov); 32 (9): 723–733

About the Author:

I was introduced to Chiro.Org in early 1996, where my friend Joe Garolis helped me learn HTML, the "mark-up language" for websites. We have been fortunate that journals like JMPT have given us permission to reproduce some early important articles in Full-Text format. Maintaining the Org website has been, and remains, my favorite hobby.


  1. Aaron Bates April 2, 2010 at 10:42 am

    More research substantiated what we do. Its awesome. It would be really hard these days to say Chiropractic is not scientific. Its pretty much at the tipping point…when that happens watch D.O.s, P.T.s and even M.D.s jump on the bandwagon.

    Dr. Aaron

  2. Chiropractor Fort Collins April 5, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    What a great post.

  3. Phoenix Chiropractor April 5, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    Thanks for posting this study. Great to see yet more validation of our profession and even better to see it in a very recent study.

  4. Terry A Rondberg, DC April 5, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    Pretty much at the tipping point doesn’t cut it. Millions of people around the globe have received chiropractic care and know its value. But the rest of the population dismisses the profession’s growth and patient testimonials as shoddy evidence.

    Regrettably, scientists have only a few studies showing correlations between the quality-of-life changes and chiropractic care. Most scientific clinical studies suggest chiropractic as a treatment for adult low-back pain, thus limiting chiropractic care.


    Hi Terry,

    I will admit that the LBP literature is not very exciting. If I were King, our researchers would have done many more studies on the effect of chiropractic on health and visceral disorders, and as time rolls on, those studies will pile up. That’s why our website donated money to FCER every year, to fund those kinds of studies. Sadly, the rest of the profession did not follow our lead.

    However there are also good studys supporting care for headaches, neck pain, thoracic spine care, and for doctor-supervised rehab of various NMS conditions, and I can’t remember the last time an insurer refused to pay for that care either.

    Our profession has always been marginalized by the powers-that-be, and yet here we are, still doing the good work every day, helping millions. I know BJ is smiling down on me as I type away, so all is good.

    BTW, excellent article on the ‘health related quality of life’ instrument on your Blog. WTG! I have found the SF-36 was good at demonstrating the benefits of care on the patient’s life, but this sounds very promising too!

  5. Chiropractic Supplier April 6, 2010 at 9:07 am

    I think it is great to see these studies show favorable results with Chiropractic care, but I agree with Terry that it would be great to see more than just LBP studies.

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  8. seattle chiropractor November 27, 2010 at 11:22 pm

    Many drugs merely mask pain without addressing its underlying cause. Chiropractic goes to the root of the problem, helping patients live pain-free without the use of medication.

  9. Santa monica chiropractor January 27, 2011 at 4:07 am

    What a great study. It’s always nice when a new study comes out and validates our industry.

  10. Chiropractor Boulder CO April 12, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    It’s always great to see numbers back up what we have known all along. Chiropractic care WORKS!

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