People who suffer with leg pain due to issues with their back often experience more time out of work, higher levels of pain, and more extensive (and costly) medical care than those with back pain that doesn’t radiate down their lower limbs. While there are many options when it comes to treatment, such as medication and surgery, a group of researchers found that chiropractic can be extremely beneficial to back-related leg pain in the short-term—especially when paired with a home exercise program.
For purposes of this yearlong randomized trial, information regarding 192 male and female participants was collected. To qualify, each person had to be 21 years old or older (the mean age was roughly 57 years), have endured back-related leg pain for a minimum of one month, the severity of their pain was at least a three on a scale of 1 to 10, and they were on a prescription medication plan within the 30 days preceding the study.
The subjects were split into two equal groups: those that participated in spinal manipulation therapy in addition to home exercise and advice, and those that engaged in home exercise and advice alone. Demographic and clinical data were collected at the 12 week mark, when therapy sessions were complete, as well as 40 weeks post-treatment (52 weeks into the study), to determine what effect each level of treatment had on the subjects and what, if any, differences occurred between the effectiveness of these two different treatment methods.
After twelve weeks of treatment, individuals in the group receiving both spinal manipulation therapy and home exercise and advice reported improvement in their leg pain, with 37 percent experiencing a 75 percent reduction, compared with only 19 percent of the group that engaged in home exercise alone achieving the same level of relief. Additionally, only 56 percent of the dually treated group advised that they were still on medication at the end of the 12 weeks, as opposed to 63 percent for the home exercise group.
The response at the 52 week mark wasn’t quite as significant between the two groups, but there were still advantages reported by the group receiving both treatment remedies. Therefore, researchers concluded that, at the very least, chiropractic provides short-term relief for back-related leg pain making it a viable option to consider in these types of circumstances.
Bronfort G, Hondras MA, Schulz CA, et al. Spinal manipulation and home exercise with advice for subacute and chronic back-related leg pain. Annals of Internal Medicine 2014;161:381-391.