New Study Shows Inclusion of Chiropractic Care Significantly Improves Results Opposed to Usual Medical Care Alone

A new study led by investigators at the Palmer Center for Chiropractic Research, in conjunction with the RAND Corporation and the Samueli Institute, has found that patients suffering from low-back pain (LBP) who received chiropractic care in addition to usual medical care (UMC) had better short-term improvements in low-back pain intensity and pain-related disability when compared to those who received UMC alone.

Results of the research were released May 18, 2018 in the inaugural edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association’s online JAMA Network Open.

The study, the largest U.S. randomized clinical trial in chiropractic research to-date, took place from September 2012 to February 2016 and involved 750 active-duty U.S. military personnel at three sites across the country.  For military personnel, LBP is one of the most common reasons they seek medical care and is a condition most likely to interrupt combat duty and cause disability.

Patients in the study reported having fewer back problems when they visited a chiropractor along with receiving usual medical care, the researchers said. 

“This patient-centered, multi-site, pragmatic clinical trial provides the strongest evidence to date that chiropractic care is safe, effective and can be integrated into multidisciplinary health care settings,” said Christine Goertz, D.C., Ph.D., lead author of the study.

Participants were randomly assigned to receive either UMC, or that same care along with chiropractic.  Usual medical care involved seeing a doctor, taking pain medications, undergoing physical therapy and performing exercises.  Patients were treated for six weeks, then tracked for another six weeks.

Limitations of the clinical trial included the broad nature of LBP diagnoses, variances in participant visits for both methods of care and differences in the treatments received across the three military sites.  Researchers called for further research to understand longer-term outcomes as well as how patient heterogeneity and intervention variations affect patient responses.

It is estimated 8 to 14 percent of U.S. adults seek chiropractic care annually. Chiropractic care is available at 66 U.S. military health-care facilities worldwide.

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