In one of the first studies of its kind, chiropractic was shown to be more effective at managing lower back pain when compared to hospital outpatient treatment. The findings are significant as “the results leave little doubt that chiropractic is more effective than conventional hospital outpatient treatment.”
This study (Meade TW et al.), published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), found that for patients suffering from chronic or severe back pain, chiropractic care was more effective than outpatient management.
The study consisted of 741 patients aged between 18 and 65 who had not been treated within the last month. Patients were randomly assigned to either the chiropractic or outpatient management treatment groups.
For the purpose of this study, chiropractic care was defined as chiropractic manipulation or some form of treatment at the discretion of the chiropractor. Hospital outpatient management involved simple forms of manual therapy performed by hospital staff.
What the study found was that for the primary measure of pain improvement, chiropractic was more effective than hospital outpatient management consistently over the 24 month follow up period.
Additional measures (straight leg raises and lumbar flexion) also reported chiropractic being more effective.
The study came to some strong conclusions on the efficacy of chiropractic.
“The results leave little doubt that chiropractic is more effective than conventional hospital outpatient treatment.”
Additionally the study concluded: “The effects of chiropractic seem to be long term, as there was no consistent evidence of a return to pretreatment Oswestry scores during the two years of follow up, whereas those treated in hospital may have begun to deteriorate after six months or a year.”
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- Meade T W, Dyer S, Browne W, Townsend J, Frank A O. Low back pain of mechanical origin: randomised comparison of chiropractic and hospital outpatient treatment. BMJ 1990; 300 :1431. Access June 2016 http://www.bmj.com/content/bmj/300/6737/1431.full.pdf.