Lower Back Pain and Chiropractic


Lower Back Pain and Chiropractic

Dr. Michelle Zhou

I was chatting with some newly-made friends the other night who, after finding out that I’m a chiropractor (and being stunned that I work in Hong Kong in an industry other than finance!), asked me one of the most common question that all chiropractors hear: “Does chiropractic really work for lower back pain?”

Lower back pain (LBP) is a very common musculoskeletal disorder that affects 80% of us at some point in our lives. Our modern lifestyle – considerably more sedate than our hunting and gathering heritage – has a huge impact on the prevalence of spinal disorders. This is particularly prevalent in Hong Kong, where we often sit for six hours a day or more in front of a computer.

There is a huge body of scientific evidence out there discussing chiropractic treatment of lower back pain. Numerous studies, including those funded by the Canadian government, various universities and non-profit organisations, have proven chiropractic to be an effective primary treatment option for LBP as well as other musculoskeletal conditions.

Funded by the Ministry of Health in Ontario, Canada in 1993, the famous Manga Report, looked at the effectiveness of chiropractic in the treatment of lower back pain. The findings were as follows:

1) Spinal manipulation conducted by a chiropractor is shown to be more effective than other alternative treatments for LBP.

2) Chiropractic management for LBP is also considered a safe approach when compared to other medical management.

3) Patient satisfaction with chiropractic management of LBP is high.

A more recent systematic review published in 2010 in the well-respected journal, Spine, recommend the use of chiropractic manipulation, NSAID and acetaminophen to be the first line in treatment of acute LBP.

Another recent American survey in 2010 looking at the top six Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) therapies for the management of LBP concluded that the use of chiropractic (67%) was greater than other five therapies – massage, herbal therapy, acupuncture, yoga/tai chi/qi gong and relaxation techniques – combined. Chiropractic users also scored the highest in satisfaction and benefits compared to all other therapies.

I have only shared three of the many available studies here, but there is plenty more evidence out there, along with new research that confirm what chiropractors and chiropractic patients have known for years.

So to answer my new friend’s question, “Does chiropractic really work for lower back pain?” I’m confident to respond with a resounding “YES!”.

  1. Lower Back Pain Fact Sheet: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/backpain/detail_backpain.htm  Retrieved on 18th February 2011
  2. A Study to Examine the Effectiveness and Cost-Effectiveness of Chiropractic Management of Low-Back Pain Ministry of Health, Government of Ontario Canada 1993
  3. Synthesis of Recommendations for the Assessment and Management of Low Back Pain from Recent Clinical Practice Guidelines. Spine J. 2010 (Jun); 10(6):514-529
  4. Perceived Benefit of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) for Back Pain: A National Survey. J American Board of Family Medicine 2010 (May); 23(3): 354-362