Neck Pain (Torticollis), Headaches, Dizziness, Radiating Pain, Nausea, Depression, Confusion, Ringing in the Ears Show Good Outcomes With Chiropractic Care
A report on the scientific literature
By: Marc D. Weiss, D.C., DAAMLP
Mark Studin DC, FASBE(C), DAAPM, DAAMPL
Although neck pain is the number one bodily injury or pain complaint from the general population in the west, many studies verify that chiropractic care for common neck pain has been effective. It has also been generally recognized that chiropractic care has helped a myriad of maladies and we are just starting to see those outcomes or positive results in the scientific literature to verify what both chiropractors and their patients have been reporting for over 100 years. The following study looks at outcomes of chiropractic treatment for neck pain and concurrent complaints throughout the Netherlands.
Rubenstein ET. Al (2007) used 79 chiropractors who each recruited approximately 10 patients. The patients were between the ages of 18-65 and had not received treatment 3 months prior to beginning this study. Participants who were treated for neck pain in this study all had different levels and frequency of visits with the chiropractor. Chiropractic spinal adjustments were the primary form of treatment. Each patient was asked a series of questions to assess their treatment success during each visit as well as during follow up appointments at 3 months and 12 months. Every symptom, including fatigue, headaches, nausea, and depression, significantly decreased from visit to visit, and significantly increased after the visits ceased.
This study covered a large area of patients with varying degrees and specifics of neck pain, as well as chiropractors with varying methods of treatment. Unlike many studies that gather data on effectiveness of treatments, especially pharmaceutical companies, this study showed statistics of both success in curing neck pain as well as adverse effects that arose during and after treatment. Only 5 of 4891 patients in the study group reported worsening of pain at the end of the study, which was 12 months after treatment. Also, only 2 of 4891 patients reported worsening of pain at the 3 month mark, which is when treatment for neck pain stopped.
The most prevalent improvement of neck pain in patients occurred during their first three visits. Additionally, most symptoms other than neck pain also improved during the first 3 months of treatment. Almost 50% of the patients were fully recovered when interviewed at their fourth visit. Almost 75% of the patients were fully recovered when interviewed at the three and twelve month follow up visits.
The following graph was presented by Rubenstein ET. Al (2007)
As you can see from the above graph, by the 2nd visit to a chiropractor, there has been significant improvement that continues to improve by the 4th visit. Although these patients initially sought care for neck pain, this study shows that many complaints respond favorably to chiropractic care and each complaint requires more independent research. The most impressive stastistic was 99.4% of people in the study would visit a chiropractor again at the 2nd visit and 98.7% at the 4th visit. That alone gives more insight than most other variables. If it wasn't successful, those numbers would not be there.
Chiropractic is one of the safest treatments currently available in healthcare and when there is a treatment where the potential for benefits far outweighs any risk, it deserves serious consideration.Whedon et al. (2014) based their study on 6,669,603 subjects after the unqualified subjects had been removed from the study and accounted for 24,068,808 office visits. They concluded,“No mechanism by which SM (spinal manipulation) induces injury into normal healthy tissues has been identified.(Whedon et al.,2014, p. 5)
Herniated Discs, Radiating Pain and Chiropractic
A report on the scientific literature
80% of chiropractic patients reported excellent or good result in a 2 year study
Mark Studin DC, FASBE (C), DAAPM, DAAMLP
Pain radiating down your leg secondary to a herniated disc is a common and often disabling occurrence. A disc in your spine is comprised of 2 basic components, the inner nucleus pulposis that is gelatinous in composition and the outer annulus fibrosis that is fibro-cartilaginous and very strong. When a person experiences trauma and the forces are directed at the spine and disc. The pressure on the inside of the disc is increased (like stepping on a balloon) and the internal nucleus pulposis creates pressure from the inside out. It tears the outer annulus fibrosis causing the internal material to go beyond the outer boundaries of the disc. This has often been misnamed a “slipped disc” because the disc doesn’t slip or slide, it is torn from the trauma allowing the internal material to escape.
Conversely, a bulging disc, which gets confused with a herniated disc, is a degenerative “wear and tear scenario” that occurs over time with the annulus fibrosis degenerating. This can also be a “risk factor” allowing the disc to herniate with less trauma due to the degeneration or thinning of the disc walls. This, however, is a conversation for another article.
Lifetime prevalence of a herniated disc has been estimated to be 35% in men and 45% in woman and it has been estimated that 90% of all leg pain secondary to herniated discs occurs at either the L4-5 or L5-S1 levels. It has also been reported that average duration of symptoms is 55.9 weeks, underscoring the critical necessity for finding a viable solution for these patients.1
Although many of these are surgical cases, it has been estimated that only 2-4% have actual surgical indications.Therefore, most patients need to be treated non-surgically and until recently, there have been few metrics affording guidance to the healthcare profession and public alike directing them to the right care. In a 2009 research report, culminating a 2 year study, a clear direction is now available for patients that suffer with radiating pain from herniated discs.1 The results of the study show that as a result of chiropractic care, “clinically meaningful improvement in pain intensity was seen in 73.9% of patients (Murphy, Hurwitz, & McGovern, 2009, p. 728). "'Good' or 'excellent' improvement was reported by 80% of patients" (Murphy, Hurwitz, & McGovern, 2009, p. 723).
Chiropractic treatment protocols utilized were 2-3 times per week tapering down to 2 times per week and less until the patients were released from care. The reports go on to state that there were no major complications with any patient. The results of the study also suggest that patients with cervical radiculopathy (neck pain radiating in to the arms), lumbar spinal stenosis, pregnancy related lumbo-pelvic pain and chronic work related neck-arm pain may also benefit from non-surgical treatment such as chiropractic care.1
This study clearly shows that chiropractic is not only an alternative for disc related radiating pain, but would be the most logical place to begin care, as 80% of the patients studied got well and without being exposed to drugs, their side effects or the added burden to the healthcare system with more costly treatments. In practice, the balance of the patients who need necessary drugs or more complicated intervention would be referred to the appropriate specialist as is the standard of care within chiropractic.
This study along with many others concludes that a drug-free approach of chiropractic care is one of the best solutions for disc and radiating pain. To find a qualified doctor of chiropractic near you go to the US Chiropractic Directory at www.uschirodirectory.com and search your state.
1. Murphy, D. R., Hurwitz, E. L., & McGovern, E. E. (2009). A nonsurgical approach to the management of patients with lumbar radiculopathy secondary to herniated disk: A prospective observational cohort study with follow-up. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 32(9), 723-733.