We care for a large number of people in our North County, St. Louis, MO office, and Dr. Mark Holland has helped countless people eliminate a range of health challenges. Even so, the primary issue that seems to stop a lot of women and men from getting care is whether or not chiropractic adjustments are safe. Luckily, according to three separate studies (out of quite a few on the topic), the answer to this concern is a clear: "Yes! Chiropractic is safe!"
Chiropractic is Safe, According to Australian Study
The first article(1) was published in Spine and involved 183 men and women. Each test subject reported suffering from some kind of back pain, and half of the individuals received real chiropractic adjustments whereas the other half received two fake chiropractic treatment sessions. Information was gathered after each real or fake adjustment to determine if any unfavorable side effects occurred as a result of the genuine chiropractic treatments.
The authors reported that nobody reported any serious negative adverse reactions whatsoever after getting one or two sessions of chiropractic care. Some participants did report that they experienced a headache (just 9% of people) or muscle stiffness (about 1 out of 3) post-treatment, but the results were not serious.
National Survey Finds that Chiropractic Care is Safe
The next study(2), also published in the important journal, Spine, was done in an attempt to ascertain the safety of chiropractic care. The study group was much larger as it involved just under 20,000 people. Each participant received chiropractic adjustments of the cervical spine, with over 50,000 total adjustments for all patients.
Again, the experts discovered no serious negative side effects. The authors computed the risk of total adverse reactions to be approximately 6 out of every 10,000 consultations or every 100,000 treatment sessions. Plus, just as with the previous study, some people did report non-serious, milder, unwanted effects such as dizziness (16 out of every 1,000 treatment consultations and 15 out of every 1,000 treatment sessions) or a headache (4%), and this prompted the authors to determine that "the risk of a serious adverse event, immediately or up to 7 days after treatment, was low to very low."
Chiropractic Care Is Safe for Your Children
This third research paper(3) is different from the first two reports, as it focuses on the safety of chiropractic care for children. In this case, the authors investigated data reported by both chiropractors and parents involving 816 children who participated in 7,173 chiropractic treatment sessions.
Out of 5,438 chiropractic appointments made for the young children, chiropractors responding to the survey reported only three cases where there were adverse reactions. When parents were surveyed, they indicated only two adverse side effects out of 1,735 visits. Additionally, both chiropractors and parents reported "a high rate of improvement with respect to the children's presenting complaints."
Based on studies like these, chiropractic has been judged safe and effective for everyone. To discover what chiropractic care can do for you, call our North County, St. Louis, MO office and schedule an appointment today at (314) 867-8888.
- Walker BF, Hebert JJ, Stomski NJ, Clarke BR, Bowden RS, Losco B, French SD. Outcomes of usual chiropractic. The OUCH randomized controlled trial of adverse events. Spine 2013;38(20):1723-9.
- Thiel HW1, Bolton JE, Docherty S, Portlock JC. Safety of chiropractic manipulation of the cervical spine: a prospective national survey. Spine 2007;32(21):2375-8.
- Alcantara J, Ohm J, Kunz D. The safety and effectiveness of pediatric chiropractic: a survey of chiropractors and parents in a practice-based research network. Explore NY 2009;5(5): 290-5.
Your myofascial tissues are what enclose and separate the layers of muscle in your body. Chronic myofascial pain is a common pain condition, and its prevalence is growing. Among middle-aged people, myofascial pain affects around 37% of men and 65% of women, but among the elderly, those numbers jump to 85% for the combined gender groups. Because the elderly population is expected to double before 2040, chronic myofascial pain is likely going to be a major challenge for health-care into the future.
Chiropractors have long used spinal adjustments as a means to manage musculoskeletal disorders and pain, including chronic myofascial pain. Many report the benefits among their patients receiving spinal therapy. But how and why does chiropractic work on muscle pain?
Researchers have explored the neurophysiological mechanisms and potential therapeutic applications of spinal therapy in treating and managing myofascial pain. Studies have suggested painful trigger points in the myofascial tissues may contribute to this chronic pain condition.
For a new study, researchers investigated if spinal adjustments could produce immediate pain relief by increasing patients' pressure pain thresholds in myofascial trigger points. They recruited 36 young adults with clinically identifiable myofascial trigger points, randomly assigning each participant to receive spinal adjustment therapy or to the control group receiving sham spinal care. Pressure pain thresholds were measured before treatment and again 1, 5, 10, and 15 minutes after the intervention.
They discovered that adjustments evoked immediate increases in pressure pain thresholds. Compared to the control group, the treatment group experienced decreased pain sensitivity. The researchers concluded that spinal adjustments can reduce myofascial pain in healthy young adults.
This study contributed to a growing body of evidence supporting spinal adjustments as a safe and effective way to manage pain, as well as a greater understanding of the role of trigger points in chronic pain conditions. Studies have shown that spinal adjustments can have immediate biological benefits, can ease jaw pain, and can relieve childhood headache, just to name a few benefits. In addition, a former study found that treatment options specifically focused on trigger points are effective for back pain relief.
Srbely J, Vernon H, Lee D, Polgar M. Immediate effects of spinal manipulative therapy on regional antinociceptive effects in myofascial tissues in healthy young adults. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2013 [Epub before print; currently in press.] Accessed at http://download.journals.elsevierhealth.com/pdfs/journals/0161-4754/PIIS0161475413001073.pdf.
Offering chiropractic care at on-site health facilities could decrease employee medical costs associated with musculoskeletal injuries and headache, suggests the results of a recent study.
Musculoskeletal injuries are the most common cause of worker disability in the US, resulting in significant clinical and economic burden. Every year, Americans spend between $84-624.8 billion on treating back pain alone. Efforts to increase access to effective treatments could reduce health-care costs while improving productivity.
Employee Health-care Utilization Study
Executives at Cerner Corporation, a health IT company, were recently interested in seeing whether chiropractic care could reduce health-care utilization in their employees. (Lower health-care utilization means less visits to the doctor and fewer expensive tests or procedures). They hired a team of researchers to conduct an analysis of employee health records in workers who received chiropractic care for back pain, neck pain, and headache. The analysis included 309 associates treated at an on-site company health facility and 858 associates treated at off-site community clinics.
Employees treated by a chiropractor, whether on-site or off-site, had significantly reduced disability scores on tests that evaluated headache, neck pain, and back pain. On average, chiropractic patients had 19% reduction in headache disability scores, a 14.6% reduction in neck pain disability scores, and a 14.5% reduction in back pain disability scores.
Although off-site chiropractic patients were just as likely to have reduced pain, the employees who received on-site care had fewer doctor's visits and reduced health-care utilization. Employees treated off-site were more likely to have outpatient visits, although the average number of outpatient visits were similar in both groups.
In one year of treatment in employees who received off-site care, the average physical therapy patient had 13.6 visits compared to 8.9 visits for chiropractic patients, and 23 visits for physician patients. (The physician's visits could have been elevated due to the fact that the data included visits non-related to musculoskeletal conditions). For those treated with on-site care, the average patient was less likely to receive physical therapy and more likely to be treated by chiropractor.
Impact on Employee Health-care Costs
The researchers concluded that on-site chiropractic care reduced health-care utilization while improving employee functional status related to musculoskeletal condition. They suggested that on-site facilities offer more opportunities for coordination and integration among different health services.
"The improved functional status indicates potential for reduced indirect costs, including absenteeism, presenteeism and productivity losses, with on-site chiropractic services," Kat Gorman, MPH, research scientist with Cerner Corporation wrote with colleagues in the executive summary of the study. "Additionally, direct cost savings may result through lower rates of health-care utilization." Gorman and her colleagues concluded that more research is needed to assess the potential for indirect and direct cost savings of on-site chiropractic care.
Earlier research has suggested that chiropractic patients have lower medical costs compared to patients under a physician's care for back pain, and a recent study found that chiropractic patients missed fewer work days.
Krause CA, et al. Value of chiropractic services at an off-site health center. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 2012; 54(8):917-21. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31825a3507.
Dagenais S, et al. A systematic review of low back pain cost of illness studies in the United States and internationally. Spine Journal 2008; 8 (1): 8-20.
Beyond Treating Pain
Chiropractic treatments have long been known to alleviate musculoskeletal pain. Now, researchers are beginning to examine additional ways that chiropractic care may improve overall health. A new study suggests that chiropractic adjustments can improve immune system function, even in patients who are not experiencing pain.
Studying Chiropractic Treatment's Effects on Immune System
Researchers at the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College examined chiropractic treatments' effect on interleukin-2, a protein involved in immune response. The study involved 74 participants with no current symptoms of pain. The participants were split into three treatment groups, including one control group and two groups receiving different kinds of chiropractic adjustments. All participants received treatment on the same day, with blood samples collected before the treatment, 20 minutes afterwards, and two hours following the treatment.
The researchers compared before-and-after blood samples to determine whether the treatment correlated with an increase in the levels of certain antibodies, including induced immunoglobulin G (IgG) and immunoglobulin M (IgM). These antibodies occur as a response to infection, and are key parts of the immune system.
The researchers found that participants who underwent chiropractic treatments had increased levels of IgG and IgM measured 20 minutes following treatment. After two hours, these patients still had elevated IgM levels. The researchers suggested that chiropractic treatments could prepare the body's immune system for faster response to new infections. This “priming” effect, they conclude, shows that chiropractic adjustments may alter the functioning of the immune system, improving overall health.
Teodorczyk-Injeyan JA, McGregor M, Ruegg R, Injeyan HS. Interleukin 2-regulated in vitro antibody production following a single spinal manipulative treatment in normal subjects. Chiropractic & Osteopathy 2010; 18:26.
Expense of Chronic Back Pain
Lower back pain is incredibly common, and it can be very expensive to treat. According to one estimate, the direct and indirect costs of chronic back pain amount to $100 billion every year in the U.S. alone.
Low-Back Pain Is a Problem
The authors of a new study comment, “One factor explaining these enormous costs is the high rate of recurrence and chronic disability related to low-back disorders.” They estimate that ten percent of low-back pain patients account for more than 80 percent of the costs related to back pain.
Study Low-Back Pain Prevention
Because of the huge costs of treating low-back pain, many studies have focused on prevention. One recent study examined the role of chiropractic adjustments in treating chronic lower back pain. The study involved 30 participants whose back pain had lasted at least 6 months. The study began with one treatment-free month, enabling the researchers to observe a 'control period' of untreated back-pain symptoms.
Following this initial period, half of the patients underwent intensive chiropractic adjustments, including 12 treatments in one month, followed by no treatments for the next nine months. The other group received the same initially intensive treatment, along with maintenance chiropractic sessions every 3 weeks for a period of nine months. At the end of this period, researchers examined both groups.
The study authors found that:
- Both groups of patients experienced a reduction in pain. Even without follow-up visits, an intensive month of chiropractic treatments reduced pain levels.
- Disability levels showed a different response. Patients who received no continuing treatment found that disability levels returned to pre-treatment levels, while those who received maintenance treatments saw continued improvements in their disability scores over the nine-month study period.
The authors conclude that their research appears to confirm the idea that low-back pain and disability are reduced following chiropractic spinal adjustments. They added:
“It also shows the positive effects of preventive chiropractic treatment in maintaining functional capacities and reducing the number and intensity of pain episodes after an acute phase of treatment. Maintenance chiropractic care involving spinal manipulation combined with other treatment modalities (exercises, pain management program) should be investigated. Such combined interventions may have a critical influence on pain, disability, and return to work.”
Descarreaux M, Blouin JS, Drolet M, Papadimitriou S, Teasdale N. Efficacy of preventive spinal manipulation for chronic low-back pain and related disabilities: a preliminary study. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2004;27:509-514.
Back Pain Is Common During Pregnancy
Many women experience lower back pain while pregnant. In fact, studies show that more than half of pregnant women report back pain at some point during their pregnancy.
A recent study found that for many women, pregnancy is the first time they have experienced back pain. The authors state,
“The incidence of low back pain with an onset during pregnancy has been reported to be 61%. It has been shown that among women with low back pain of pregnancy, 75% reported no low back pain before pregnancy. In a study of women with chronic low back pain, up to 28% stated that their first episode of back pain occurred during a pregnancy.”
Studying Chiropractic Treatment for Back Pain
Chiropractic treatments may be beneficial for women who experience back pain during pregnancy. Researchers recently studied 17 pregnant women with lower back pain. The pain lasted an average of 21.7 days, and was rated an average of 5.9 on a scale of 1 to 10. The pain began an average of 20.6 weeks into the pregnancy. Each participant underwent chiropractic treatments individualized to their reported symptoms. The authors found that:
- About half of the women referred themselves for treatment, while the other half were referred by their obstetrician.
- It took an average of 4.5 days for the women to achieve clinically significant pain relief. The range was 0 to 13 days following the first treatment session.
- An average of 1.8 treatments were needed to reach clinically significant pain relief.
- Average pain levels decreased from 5.9 to 1.5 at the conclusion of the study.
- Patients received 3 to 15 treatments, with an average of 5.6.
- One participant of the 17 women involved did not experience clinically significant pain reduction during the study.
- None of the women reported negative reactions to the adjustments.
Lower back pain during pregnancy can detrimentally impact women's overall health. The study authors explain:
“In most instances, the average pain level is moderate, but severe pain has been reported in 15% of cases. Pain intensity often increases with duration and can result in significant disability. Sleep disturbances have been reported by 49% to 58% of women and impaired daily living by 57% in women with low back pain of pregnancy.”
However, many women do not report their back pain to their doctor, and it goes untreated. A previous study found that "just 32% of women reported their low back pain of pregnancy to their prenatal providers, and just 25% of these providers recommended a treatment.” Other research has found that "among women with low back pain of pregnancy, 80% thought that their providers had not offered treatment for their back pain.”
Chiropractic May Help You
If you're experiencing back pain as a pregnant woman, it's important to know you don't have to suffer through the pain. This research demonstrates that chiropractic care is an effective, safe way to reduce low-back pain during pregnancy.
Lisi AJ. Chiropractic spinal manipulation for low back pain of pregnancy: a retrospective case series. Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health 2006;51:e7-e10.
Many athletes utilize chiropractic treatments following an injury or a strenuous workout. New research suggests that athletes could also boost their athletic performance through chiropractic adjustments.
The study involved 18 professional Brazilian judo athletes. Half received chiropractic adjustments to their cervical spine, located in the neck. The other half received a placebo treatment. Researchers examined the effect of the treatment by evaluating the athletes' grip strength, because judo relies heavily on muscle forces in the hands and arms.
The researchers measured grip strength before and after each cervical spinal manipulation. Following just three treatment sessions, the athletes in the chiropractic group had an overall improvement in grip strength of 10% on the left side and 16% on the right side, which is considered statistically significant. The placebo group did not experience significant improvements in grip strength. After analyzing the data, the researchers concluded that the chiropractic care enhanced grip strength in judo athletes.
Additional research is needed to fully understand the benefits of chiropractic care for athletes, though this study shows exciting results. In 2010, another study showed chiropractic sports interventions substantially reduces the risk of lower-limb injuries among football players. Chiropractic care offers a number of potential benefits for athletes, including injury prevention, enhanced recovery, and improved peak performance.
Botelho, Marcelo and Bruno Andrade. “Effect of Cervical Spine Manipulative Therapy on Judo Athletes’ Grip Strength. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapies. 2011; 35(11): 38-44.
Hoskins W, Pollard H. The effect of a sports chiropractic manual therapy intervention on the prevention of back pain, hamstring and lower limb injuries in semi-elite Australian Rules footballers: a randomized control trial. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2010;11:64.
Housework Riskier Than Sports?
Knee osteoarthritis appears to be linked to a lifetime of stress placed on the knees. The first study to estimate the cumulative effects of various activities on the knees has linked housework – but not recreational sports – to the painful condition.
The authors conclude that physical activity in the form of sports is safe, and does not increase the risk of developing knee arthritis. However, heavy-lifting housework could be partially to blame for the rising prevalence of knee arthritis. With new cases nearly doubling in the past two decades, researchers are eager to pinpoint the causes of knee arthritis.
The study involved a questionnaire asking patients about whether they had been diagnosed with knee arthritis, as well as their occupational and recreational history. While previous studies have examined the impact of manual labor occupations on the risk of knee arthritis, this study placed emphasis on the kneeling, lifting, stair climbing, and squatting actions common with housework.
Who Has Highest Risk?
Both men and women who scored in the highest category of total lifetime knee stress were significantly more likely than others to be diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis. However, estimated force on the knees due to sports activity was not seen as a significant factor. The authors conclude that encouraging physical activity does not create an unnecessarily risk for the knees.
Chiropractic May Help
Ratzlaff CR, et al. Is lifelong knee joint force from work, home, and sport related to knee osteoarthritis? International Journal of Rheumatology 2012;v.2012 ( 584193): doi: 10.1155/2012/584193.
When you're trying to sustain your family, take care of your home, and pay all of your bills on time, every day at work counts. Work injuries can be a huge problem for many people, and we see many of these types of injuries in our North County, St. Louis, MO office. Dr. Mark Holland appreciates your situation and is here to help.
The benefits of chiropractic for work injuries are well-established. A 2013 survey involving 651 adults who were suffering with either back or neck pain found that the individuals who didn't see a chiropractor missed work at twice the rate of those who were seeing a chiropractor.
So, why don't more people use chiropractic?
According to the participants in this study, two of the major factors were that they thought they needed a referral for chiropractic care (which is typically no longer true) and they overestimated the costs associated with chiropractic treatment sessions by almost 70 percent.
The fact is, chiropractic patients actually spend less on care than medical patients, plus they are less likely to use drugs for their symptoms.
If you live in North County, St. Louis, MO and you've been injured at work, we can help. Give our office a call today at (314) 867-8888 for an appointment.
"Thousands of Minnesotans with Back and Neck Pain Don't Seek Treatment." (2013, June 12). ChiroCare.
There's the old lyrics, "Don't Worry, Be Happy."
Well, new research shows that worry actually speeds aging by degrading and modifying DNA.
Harvard researchers looked at 5,243 women and found that those with high phobic anxiety were more likely to have shorter telomeres.
The women with high anxiety had DNA damage similar to being six years older than their actual age!
"Many people wonder about whether—and how—stress can make us age faster," said Olivia Okereke, MD, MS, BWH Department of Psychiatry, study author. "So, this study is notable for showing a connection between a common form of psychological stress—phobic anxiety—and a plausible mechanism for premature aging. However, this type of study design cannot prove cause-and-effect or which problem came first—the anxiety or shorter telomeres."