Does Spinal Manipulation Relieve Back Pain


Pain in the lower back region sometimes goes away on its own. However, in some cases, back pain needs attention, especially when the pain remains for weeks and months. The aim of treatments concerned with alleviating lower back pain is to make the patients regain their ability and confidence with being able to carry on with normal life and activity. Many people are looking to spinal manipulation as an alternative form of treatment, but does spinal manipulation relieve back pain?



Does Spinal Manipulation Relieve Back Pain

spinal manipulation

Many people are often usnure about what spinal manipulation actually is

Low back pain is a distressing, and distressingly common, problem encountered in family medicine. Although this symptom is usually self-limited in otherwise healthy patients, there are few truly effective treatments other than time. Seeking faster relief, many patients visit chiropractors or osteopathic physicians who provide spinal manipulative therapy. Three pro/con editorials in the April 15th issue of AFP debate the effectiveness of spinal maniplation relative to other commonly used treatments for low back pain.


In the first editorial, Drs. James Arnold and Shannon Ehleringer point out that “in two large systematic reviews, manipulation decreased pain and improved range of motion in patients with chronic neck pain and in patients with acute and chronic back pain. Manipulation improved symptoms more effectively than placebo and was as effective as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, home exercises, physical therapy, and back school.” Dr. Melicien Tettambel concurs in the second editorial, arguing that since “it is unrealistic to expect any single treatment modality to be universally effective across all patients,” manipulation has a useful role as an adjunct therapy.


On the other hand, Drs. Peter Cronholm and David Nicklin contend in a third editorial that much of the evidence supporting spinal manipulation for low back pain consists of low-quality studies that demonstrate statistical but not clinical benefit. Since the benefits of manipulation are comparable to watchful waiting, they argue that the latter option should generally be preferred:


Patients in pain are unhappy, and they want relief. The evidence shows that taking acetaminophen or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug and resting as needed is as effective as spinal manipulation. However, patients attribute pain resolution to active treatment. Although a course of spinal manipulation, or physical therapy, may keep the patient happy (and occupied) while his or her pain spontaneously resolves, the improvement in pain and function is not based on large, quality studies. Whether improved patient satisfaction with spinal manipulation versus watchful waiting is worth the cost of the therapy depends on who pays and how the paying party values satisfaction. As controlling costs becomes more important, incentives make watchful waiting with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or acetaminophen the preferred approach.


See entire article here



Here is some more information on spinal manipulation – Some of your basic questions answered on the topic in this video below from Billy Mays. It’s a bit cheesy but it gets the message across.



This video is from physiotherapist Peter Georgilopoulos from the Physio Wellness Centre based on The Gold Coast in Australia. It demonstrates thoracic lumbar and cervical manipulation – and you can hear the bone cracks loud and clear!



And here is another video showing and explaining in more detail what Chiropractic spinal manipulation actually is. The good stuff starts after about 1 minute. If you are a bit queezy about this type of thing be prepared!



The ultimate aim is to free the patient of the pain that they are going through, especially where the pain affects them being able to go about their normal daily life. Many medical practitioners suggest that traditional treatments, such as pain relieving medicines, physiotherapy, and surgery, will relieve their patients of pain. It has been also mentioned to patients that resting may increase back pain. Spinal manipulation is an alternative treatment to more traditional methods. Now, it is up to the patient to decide what treatment to go for. That is why proper information about all the available treatments is necessary for a patient to be able to make an informed choice of appropriate forms of treatment.


Some patients and doctors may prefer medicines and physical exercises whereas others may prefer surgery, yet some may prefer spinal manipulation. It also depends on the costs involved in these treatments, and also the level of affordability to the patient so that they can decide on the most acceptable mode of treatment. However, does spinal manipulation relieve back pain? Some agree and some do not. While debating its effectiveness, it is to be carefully noted that spinal manipulation must be done by an expert (either chiropractor or physiotherapist) as they must know where to put pressure and the degree of force that needs to be applied in accordance with the condition of the patient.


Any treatment must be undertaken with the full knowledge and consent of the patient. For many patients, there appears to be no harm in considering spinal manipulation because they may have tried many other treatments that were not that successful.


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