Neurological Control of Muscles and Joints
Recent research, carried out by a neuroscientist and her team, has found that adjustments to dysfunctional parts of the spine can have a profound effect on the way the brain is able to control movement and joint position. The researchers found that, among other findings, after they adjusted part of the spine that was not moving correctly, the person's brain function changed and they were better able to control the position and movement of various parts of their body. This has important implications in a number of situations. For example, it is possible that this could lead to a reduced risk of falling in the elderly. It could reduce the risk of injury in regular people going about their normal activities. It could be important for prevention of injury in sport and in general life - if the brain is controlling movement better, then the chance of the body ending up in injurious positions is reduced. The most interesting thing about these studies, is that they were carried out on people who were not in pain, because they didn't want pain to get in the way of the results. So, this means that the dysfunction that can cause altered movement quality (and a higher risk of injury) exists in people whether they have pain or not. This is why many of our patients make sure they get corrected before the injury occurs! Prevention is better than cure, as they say!
The current guidelines for the treatment of patients with low back pain, issued by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) include recommendations for the use of manipulation. This is following review of the literature by the NICE team who concluded that the evidence for the use of manipulation justified its routine use in the treatment of these patients. Manipulation is one of the methods used by chiropractors alongside exercises, soft tissue work, home advice and others.
Chiropractic & Pelvic Alignment
An investigation in 2004 showed that chiropractic adjustments help to improve the symmetry of the pelvis and the balance of weight between the two feet. These changes in spinal mechanics were related to an improvement in the pain experienced by the patients in the study.
Chiropractic & Neck Pain-Related Headaches
In 2004 an investigation looked at the response of patients with neck pain and headaches, another frequently-seen condition in a chiropractic clinic. It showed that the patients experienced a reduction of their symptoms, but that the effect they experienced was better if they attended for treatment 3 or even 4 times per week, as opposed to twice or once per week.
Chiropractic & Lumbar Disc Herniation
The 4th publication of 'The Chiropractic Report' in 2004 presented a body of evidence for the chiropractic management of lumbar disc herniation (bulging of the discs in the low back, often referred to as slipped discs). It concluded that the efficacy of chiropractic manipulation in the treatment of lumbar disc herniation "has been established."
Chiropractic vs Muscle Relaxants
A study in 2004 showed that chiropractic care was more effective than muscle relaxant medication for the treatment of sub-acute low back pain (defined as between 2-6 weeks of duration).
Chiropractic vs Primary Care
In a study in 2004 the results of chiropractic care were compared to medical care for back pain. The study concludes that chiropractic care was superior to primary medical care. It reports that the chiropractic patients achieved better short and long-term results. It also states that a significant advantage was seen for chiropractic care in those patients who experienced pain below the knee (often indicating some kind of trapped nerve, sciatica or "slipped disc"). The results of the study also raise the issue of long-term prevention, as 50% or more of the patients experienced 50 or more days of pain in the third year. This highlights the importance of looking after your spine once your pain is under control, very much like brushing your teeth to avoid tooth decay!