So you’ve had neck or back pain for years and get some good relief with chiropractic. You may find yourself asking, “Do I really need exercise?”
According to one study by chiropractic scientists at the Northwestern Health Sciences University in Minnesota reported in Spine, of 191 patients with chronic neck pain, subjects who performed low tech exercises and received chiropractic adjustments fared better than patients who worked out on expensive exercise equipment (MedX), or who received chiropractic adjustments without exercise. Patients were more satisfied with treatment and had less pain even 24 months after the initial 20 treatments, when adjustments were combined with low tech exercise. Indeed, compared with patients who only received chiropractic, after two years 25% less disability was seen in patients that also performed low tech exercise with their chiropractic adjustments.
Ok so what if you’re not interested in research but want to hear a personal story? Consider the case of Carmilla Billick, 56, of Toledo, Ohio, as reported by ABC News. While the US Agency for Healthcare Policy and Research in 1994 concluded that spinal manipulation is more effective than physical therapy and acupuncture for back pain, and that only 1 in 100 patients benefit from surgery, sometimes patients still think surgery will fix their back problems for good. After failing to benefit from initial chiropractic and physical therapy, Billick thought she was home free and on the road to recovery after she had back surgery, and then her back pain returned. Dr. Edward Benzel, Chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, advised Billick to strengthen her core muscles and follow a healthy diet, but she found another surgeon who was willing to do another back surgery. In so much pain she, “couldn’t even stand or sit or anything,” Billick says the second surgeon said, “I can fix you through surgery.” This time her pain did not improve, she is permanently disabled, and she says, “I regret that I got surgery.” According to Dr. Benzel, “…one operation leads to another which leads to another.” Billick now faces additional back surgery and says she now has the spine of a 90-year old, more than 10 years after her first back surgery.
According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, you should try nonsurgical options for 6 months to a year before considering surgery, and after decades of research we have learned some lessons. First, the spine is designed for movement, not rest or prolonged inactivity; get up and move often, stay active, and strengthen your core trunk muscles! Second, eat healthy including a variety of foods, learn about the role of sleep in health, and eliminate or reduce bad habits like drug use, drinking or smoking that impair blood flow to your back. Third, consider regular chiropractic care, to help offset the stresses and inactivity that it’s sometimes hard to avoid.
Dr. Rob Leach
To read about research of how neck adjustments combined with exercise results in less disability even 2 years later: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12438988
To read the novel and landmark Federal back pain treatment guidelines: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/bookshelf/br.fcgi?book=hsarchive&part=A25870
To read or view “Help Me Fix It: Dr. Besser Goes in Search of Back Pain Relief,” go to: http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/OnCall/fix-dr-richard-besser-finds-back-pain-relief/story?id=10609394