What To Do For Chronic Low Back Pain
About 80% of adults experience low back pain in their lifetime. It’s the leading cause of job-related disability and missed work days. According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 25% of adults have had a recent episode of low back pain. Sometimes this low back comes with sciatica and sometimes it doesn’t.
Men and women are equally affected by low back pain, which can occur abruptly following a specific incident, such as over lifting, or it can develop slowly over time due to wear and tear. Studies show that a sedentary lifestyle during the week can set the stage for developing low back pain, especially when it’s followed by strenuous weekend workouts.
Although about 80% of acute low back pain resolves with self-care or short-term management, about 20% of those with acute low back pain will still have persistent symptoms after a year. So what can be done to manage chronic low back pain and prevent disability?
One study looked specifically at maintenance spinal manipulative therapy to determine its effectiveness in managing chronic low back pain, which they defined as low back pain that persists for more than six months. Chiropractors perform spinal manipulative therapy. Researchers randomly assigned sixty patients to receive either 1) 12 treatments of sham spinal manipulative therapy for one month; 2) 12 treatments of spinal manipulative therapy for one month but no treatment thereafter; or 3) 12 treatments for one month followed by spinal manipulative therapy twice a month for the following nine months.
The research team found that groups two and three experienced significantly lower pain and disability scores than the sham treatment group at the end of the first month. However, only the third group experienced more improvement in regards to pain and disability at the ten-month evaluation. In the absence of continued spinal manipulative therapy, the second group’s pain and disability scores returned back to near pre-treatment scores. The authors concluded that spinal manipulative therapy is effective for chronic nonspecific low back pain, but to obtain long-term benefit, patients should continue to receive care on an ongoing basis.
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