Chiropractic Better Than Muscle Relaxers Study Shows

Back pain affects the majority of American adults at some point. With estimates as high as 75%-85%, this is an issue that cannot be ignored. It is vital, especially in the midst of the opioid crisis, that health care providers have evidence-based treatments to rely on.

While there has been an increase in acceptance and utilization of prescription opioids, there is lack of evidence pertaining to their long-term effectiveness.  Drug-free chiropractic care provides a safe and effective option to manage pain.

A study published in 2004, shows the efficacy of chiropractic adjustments for patients with low back pain.  This study focused on “sub-acute” back pain which generally means pain that lasts 4-12 weeks. Less than 4 weeks, is considered acute and more than 12 is considered chronic.

Researchers set out to compare pain relief from chiropractic adjustments to relief provided by muscle relaxants. Research subjects who had experienced low back pain for 2-6 weeks were divided into three groups:

  • Chiropractic adjustments with placebo medication
  • Muscle relaxants with sham adjustments
  • Placebo medications with sham adjustments

Baseline data was gathered for each subject using a visual analog pain scale, disability questionnaire, depression scale, flexibility tests, acetaminophen usage, Global Impression of Severity Scale (GIS) and a physician’s clinical impression.

Data showed the three groups to be similar for most baseline values.

Each group was then treated for 2 weeks. Subjects were reassessed at the end of the 2-week treatment cycle and again at 4 weeks.

There was a decrease in pain, disability, depression and GIS across the board; however, there were significant differences between the three groups with the chiropractic group improving more on both primary and secondary outcome measures.

This led researchers to conclude: “Chiropractic was more beneficial than placebo in reducing pain and more beneficial than either placebo or muscle relaxants in reducing GIS.”

Chiropractors are well versed in musculoskeletal (MSK) issues and offer hands-on, effective relief from low back pain as well as other common complaints and injuries.

In addition to chiropractic adjustments, your doctor may recommend therapies, exercises, or dietary changes and supplements to help your body recover faster and prevent additional pain.

Before you reach for pills, call your chiropractor and make an appointment.   If you do not already have a chiropractor, you can find a listing of TCA Member doctors in your area at


Hoiriis KT, Pfleger B, McDuffie FC, Cotsonis G, Elsangak O, Hinson R, Verzosa GT, et al. A Randomized Clinical Trial Comparing Chiropractic Adjustments to Muscle Relaxants for Subacute Low Back Pain. Journal of Manipulative & Physiological Therapeutics, Volume 27, Issue 6, 388 – 398.