Chiropractic better than drug for back pain, study finds

It's not uncommon for back-pain patients to always have a bottle of pain medication on hand. But while drugs might temporarily dull the pain, recent research suggests they may be ineffective as a long-term treatment for back pain. A new study from the journal Spine suggests that chiropractic treatments are more effective for back pain than pain medication.

In the study, researchers sought to compare the efficacy of spinal adjustments to a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug or NSAID. One-hundred and one patients with acute low-back pain received one of three treatments: 1) spinal adjustments with a placebo drug; 2) real doses of the drug and sham adjustments, or 3) sham adjustments and a placebo drug.

Patients receiving spinal adjustments saw more substantial improvements than patients taking the pain medication. Chiropractic patients had faster and more distinct reductions in disability and pain. They also reported having a better quality of life after treatment than the patients on pain medications. These improvements lasted at the 12-week follow-up.

Although previous research has shown the efficacy of chiropractic for back pain, this is the first study to demonstrate that chiropractic has a "clear superiority" over an NSAID for back pain.

The success of chiropractic lies in its ability to address the root cause of pain rather than dulling the symptoms. If you're searching for safe, effective, lasting relief of back pain, chiropractic could help.


von Heymann W, Schloemer P, et al. Spinal HVLA-manipulation in acute nonspecific LBP: A double blinded randomized controlled trial in comparison with diclofenac and placebo. Spine 2012; doi: 10.1097/BRS.0b013e318275d09c.