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Spinal Manipulation Use Grows as Its Benefits are Experienced

March 9, 2016 03:38 by jamesmcoxdcdacbr

Tremendous growth in the use of spinal manipulation to treat human spine pain conditions is reported in the literature today. Chiropractic, osteopathy, physical therapy, and allopathy all research and document these benefits; let’s look at some of these benefits.

Physical therapists find tension type headache patients were relieved by suboccipital inhibitory pressure and suboccipital spinal manipulation (upper neck and base of the skull area) in a combined use. It is effective at changing different dimensions of quality of life, and the results support the effectiveness of treatments applied to the suboccipital region for patients with tension type headache. (1)

Treatment of 455 low back pain patients with osteopathic manipulation treatment showed substantial improvement which was defined as 50% or greater reduction of pain at week 12 compared with baseline. Patients with higher pain levels actually showed the greatest relief. In another study, 6 osteopathic spinal manipulation treatments over an 8 week period gave significant and clinically relevant recovery of chronic low back pain. Interestingly, patients without depression were more likely to recover from chronic low back pain with osteopathic manipulation therapy.  A trial of osteopathic manipulation may be useful before progressing to other more costly or invasive interventions in the medical management of patients with chronic low back pain. (2)

Patient age can determine the best form of spinal manipulation to be administered. The American Academy of Osteopathy studied the use of osteopathic spinal manipulative treatment (OMT) in 3 age groups of patients: <65 years, 65-79 years, and ≥80 years.  Osteopathic spinal manipulative treatment can be used to address serious conditions affecting older persons (≥65 years). Spinal manipulation was  used equally in all 3 age groups but varied in the type of spinal manipulation given. Over age 65, more gentle spinal manipulation procedures are used while more vigorous types of spinal manipulation can be delivered in patients under age 65. Respiratory and neurologic conditions were often treated with spinal manipulation. (3)

Chiropractic spinal manipulation showed 86% of low back pain patients showed relief following 12 spinal manipulation treatments given over an average of 29 days. The type of spinal manipulation used was Cox® flexion distraction decompression. (4)

Spinal manipulation is first line treatment for low back pain. (5) When considering treatment for low back pain and sciatic pain, note that epidural steroid injections are reported no better than a placebo for sciatica and spinal stenosis.  These facts can aid a patient in choosing their treatment for headache or low back pain with or without leg pain.


James M. Cox, DC, DACBR


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