Chiropractic for Severe Back Arthritis with Stenosis?
Patients & Friends,
Chiropractic care may benefit even the most severe form of arthritis in the back that is often treated by surgery, according to research published earlier this week in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics.
For decades scientists reported that milder forms of spinal problems, such as back strains or stiffness, respond well to chiropractic. Only in the last decade has there been growing evidence that chiropractic benefits even severe back problems such as a herniated disc.
The new research reported on 49 patients receiving chiropractic, average age 70, with the most severe form of spinal arthritis, called spinal stenosis. The condition involves calcium deposits, bone spurs, and scar tissue such as old disc material that compresses the spinal canal and pinches nerves.
Patients received chiropractic, massage, stretches, and other procedures twice weekly for 6 weeks, in addition to home based exercises. Clinically important improvements were seen in back and leg pain and disability, according to the scientists.
The pain of stenosis, called neurogenic claudication, typically extends from the back to one or both hips, thighs or legs, causing leg weakness as well with prolonged standing or walking. Usually the pain is relieved by bending forward at the waist or changing postures, and not merely by sitting down.
Traditionally primary care doctors referred patients with stenosis and neurogenic claudication to back surgeons. Recent reports appearing in the media have cited Medicare data and focused on the dangers associated with fusion surgery sometimes performed on these patients. To date surgery has not been compared with chiropractic in research.
In contrast, chiropractic care includes, in addition to light manual procedures, massage, and adjustments, a focus on wellness behaviors such as smoking cessation, increased activity, weight loss, a more Mediterranean-type diet, and stress management. Generally chiropractors try to work with a patient’s primary care doctor so that pain can be managed with mild medications, when chiropractic care lifestyle changes alone fail to totally resolve symptoms. Surgical referral is reserved only for non-responders.
The findings suggest that chiropractic, massage, and lifestyle changes may improve even the symptoms of severe arthritis, and promote a full, healthy life!
Robert A. Leach, DC, MS, FICC(h), CHES
Scientists reported on January 22, 2015, that patients with spinal stenosis who received chiropractic, massage and exercises had clinically meaningful improvement in back and leg pain: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25620608
Typically doctors believe manual procedures such as chiropractic, massage, and exercise can provide only temporary relief of symptoms of severe spinal arthritis, and that surgery is the only way to obtain permanent relief: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1913265-treatment
However, media reports have outlined the dangers of spinal surgery for seniors with severe arthritis: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/tapping-into-controversial-back-surgeries/
CBS news put the entire Medicare surgeon spreadsheet online, so patients could learn whether their surgeon typically performed the more dangerous fusion surgeries: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/tapping-into-controversial-back-surgeries/2/
Mississippi Chiropractic Association members, according to research by Leach, Cossman and Yates, advocate healthy lifestyle changes that include exercise and dietary improvements: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21807263