Many times I am asked the question “I’m feeling good. Why should I continue with chiropractic care?” Traditionally, chiropractors have answered by repeating what we firmly believe: that chiropractic helps to balance the nervous system. What we mean is that our treatments can help the brain – the master organ in the nervous system – give clearer directions to the body and allow the body’s signals going back to the brain to be better understood.
I often compare chiropractic to eating a healthy diet, reducing stress or regular exercise – all things that have been shown to be “good for you.” Recently, information has come from a study that provides more information on this very interesting question. Please take a moment and let me share that with you.
The journal Spine carried an article that demonstrated the benefits of chiropractic care beyond simply relieving pain. Spine compared three types of treatment for patients suffering chronic spinal pain (which the study defined as pain that had lasted for 13 weeks or more). Participants in the study were divided into three groups, with patients receiving either traditional medical care, acupuncture or chiropractic for nine weeks. Chiropractic clearly was more helpful for spinal care: 32 percent of the chiropractic patients achieved early (defined as before the study period of 9 weeks was up) and complete pain relief. This compares to 4.5 percent for the acupuncture group and 4.5 percent for the medically-managed group.
However, there was another fascinating finding concerning the overall health of the three groups. Each participant was also evaluated through a questionnaire designed to measure overall health and well-being. Areas examined included: limitations in physical activities due to health problems, limitations due to emotional problems, general mental health, vitality, and general health problems. The remarkable finding of this Spine journal study was that the chiropractic group showed improvement in their overall health far beyond that found in the other groups. The chiropractic group reported a 46 percent improvement in their overall health, compared to only 15 percent for the acupuncture group and 18 percent for the medical group.
Still skeptical about the benefits of continuing chiropractic care? Let me tell you about another study. This one was reported in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (JMPT). Here thirty patients with chronic low back pain were all treated chiropractically, but half of them continued to receive care after the first month of treatment, whereas the other group stopped their treatment after the first month. Participants were placed at random into one of two groups. The first group received chiropractic care for one month ? twelve visits — and then received no further treatment for the following nine months. The second group also received twelve chiropractic visits for the first month, but then continued to be treated once every three weeks for the remaining nine months of the study. What this study found was that the second group — the one that continued to be treated every three weeks — had only about half as much low back disability at the end of the ten-month-long study as compared to those who discontinued care after the first month. Patients were evaluated on the Revised Oswestry Index the same scoring method that we use in our office.
So there you have it. The study in the journal Spine demonstrated that people’s overall health and well-being can be improved by a program of regular chiropractic care, and the research in JMPT showed that disability scores are twice as good for those who continue with regular, but less frequent, chiropractic care. Perhaps it might be a good idea for you!