Chiropractic Care Works for Troops with Lower Back Pain, But Not Everyone Can Access It
SOURCE: Military.com ~ 16 Sep 2019
By Patricia Kime
A decade after being asked to study how chiropractic care may increase fitness among troops with lower back pain, the Defense Department has submitted its report to Congress.
The answer? It works.
But service members still shouldn’t expect the treatment to be available at every military health facility.
And as for military family members, retirees and their families, the benefit, along with other alternative therapies, remains uncovered by Tricare.
Earlier this month, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs James Stewart sent a final report to Congress (PDF) on three clinical trials conducted in the last 10 years at military health facilities by Rand Corp., Palmer College of Chiropractic and the Samueli Institute to determine whether chiropractic care can ease lower back pain in troops, help service members stop smoking and increase readiness.
The $7.5 million study was ordered under the fiscal 2010 National Defense Authorization Act, signed into law on Oct. 28, 2009. According to the report released Sept. 6, the trials showed some positive results.
The first clinical trial, to determine whether chiropractic care reduced pain and helped troops stop smoking, showed statistically significant improvement for service members with back pain who received chiropractic care alongside regular medical care.
The second trial, to test whether chiropractic care had any effect on the reaction and response times of special operations troops, showed that a single session had an immediate effect on motor response.
But the trials also found that chiropractic care had no real influence on smoking cessation, nor did the acceleration of response time among special operators last after the initial effect.
The third trial — on whether chiropractic care improves fitness among troops with back pain — showed that those who received such care saw a 5% increase in isometric strength, as opposed to a 6% decrease in strength among the control group, made up of service members who also had lower back pain but didn’t receive chiropractic care.
Endurance also increased 14% in the chiropractic group, compared with a 10% decrease in the control group, according to the third trial.
“Based on the results, the investigators concluded that chiropractic care improves key fitness characteristics among active-duty service members with lower back pain and could lead to improved military readiness in such individuals,” the report notes.
While Congress passed a law in 2000 requiring the Defense Department to offer chiropractic care for active-duty personnel and activated Reserve and National Guard members, it is available in only 65 of the DoD’s 54 military hospitals and 377 clinics.
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