Have you ever considered which type of doctor is best suited to treat back pain?
Since there are so many treatment options available today, it is quite challenging to make this decision without a little help.
To facilitate, a study looking at this very question compared the effectiveness between medical and chiropractic intervention.
Over a four-year time frame, researchers followed 2,780 low back pain patients who were treated using conventional approaches by both MDs (Medical Doctors) and DCs (Doctors of Chiropractic).
Chiropractic treatments included spinal manipulation, physical therapy, an exercise plan, and self-care education.
Medical therapies included prescription drugs, an exercise plan, self-care advice, and about 25% of the patients received physical therapy.
The study focused on present pain severity and functional disability (activity interference) measured by questionnaires mailed to the patients.
The authors of the study reported that chiropractic was favored over medical treatment in the following areas:
- pain relief in the first 12 months (more evident in the chronic patients);
- when LBP pain radiated below the knee (more evident in the chronic patients);
- chronic LBP patients with no leg pain (during the first 3 months)
Similar trends favoring chiropractic were observed in regards to disability but they were of smaller magnitude.
All patient groups saw significant improvement in both pain and disability over the four-year study period.
Acute patients saw the greatest degree of improvement with many achieving symptom relief after three months of care.
This study also found early intervention reduced chronic pain and, at year three, those acute LBP patients who received early intervention reported fewer days of LBP than those who waited longer for treatment.
While both MD and DC treatment approaches helped, it’s quite clear from the information reported that chiropractic should be utilized first.
These findings support the importance of early intervention by chiropractic physicians and make the most sense for those of you struggling with the question of who to see for your LBP.