Here are presented two articles discussing the care of chronic low back pain by chiropractic physicians and medical physicians. The first followed patients for 1 month, and the second followed patients for up to 12 months.
The First Study
93 chiropractic patients and 45 medical patients who sought care at a participating chiropractic or medical facility were followed for a month. They all had chronic (lasting longer than 3 months), recurrent (happening repeatedly over the course of a year) low back pain.
chiropractic patients primarily received spinal manipulation and physical therapy modalities.
Medical patients mostly received anti-inflammatory agents.
Number of Treatments
chiropractic patients were seen on average 4 times and medical patients were seen 1 time.
Patients with chronic low back pain treated by chiropractors showed greater improvement and satisfaction at one month than patients treated by family physicians.
chiropractic patients showed improvement across all outcomes while medical patients showed minimal improvement.
| ||Chiropractic ||Medical|
|Pain Severity ||31% ||6%|
|Functional Disability ||29% ||1%|
|Sensory Pain Quality ||36% ||29%|
|Affective Pain Quality ||57% ||26%|
Satisfaction scores were higher for chiropractic patients.
A higher number of chiropractic patients - 56% of chiropractic patients vs. 13% of medical patients - reported their low back pain was better or much better. Nearly one-third of medical patients reported their low-back pain was worse or much worse. (1)
The Second Study
In another study of patients seeking care for their chronic low back pain from a chiropractic physician or a primary care medical physician reports that chiropractic care compared favorably to medical care with respect to long-term pain and disability outcomes. Medical and chiropractic care outcomes were similar in patients without leg pain and in patients with leg pain above the knee. However the researchers point out that an advantage was noted for chronic chiropractic patients with radiating pain below the knee. A greater proportion of chiropractic patients were satisfied with all aspects of their care. (2)
(1) Nyiendo J, Haas M, Goodwin P: Patient characteristics, practice activities, and one-month outcomes for chronic, recurrent low-back pain treated by chiropractors and family medicine physicians: a practice-based feasibility study. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2000 May;23(4):239-45. Link to Journal Abstract
(2) Nyiendo J, Haas M, Goldberg B, Sexton G: Pain, disability, and satisfaction outcomes and predictors of outcomes: a practice-based study of chronic low back pain patients attending primary care and chiropractic physicians. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2001 Sep;24(7):433-9. Link to Journal Abstract