Have you ever heard of a chiropractor talk about “maintenance” care, or perhaps they used the term wellness care, any way its is called it may sound like some ploy to keep you as a chiropractic patient the rest of your life. I can tell you it is no more of ploy than Dentists recommending check-ups twice a year. Regular chiropractic care can have a profound effect on your health and subsequently your life. To support this claim I found a 3 year old paper published by Egyptian MD’s that found “maintenance” care to be effective in the treatment of chronic back pain. This paper is published in the journal Spine which is one of the top spine research journals in the world. Their peer review process is very difficult to pass and only some of the best papers make it publication.
I found this study to be very interesting, mostly because it was published in August 2011 and the first I heard about it was January 8, 2013. I do my best to keep up with chiropractic research but somehow I missed this one. This paper was published by 2 medical doctors, which is really neat because it is rare for someone outside of chiropractic to publish research that validates chiropractic. This study was single blinded and placebo controlled. In this study the placebo group was given 12 treatments of fake adjustments. You might wonder what a fake or sham adjustment is and you are not going to find an answer in this blog post. Sham adjustments have been defined in the literature are too complex a topic to include in this post. The study groups consisted of a group of patients who received real chiropractic adjustments for 12 visits over a one month period and another group that got the 12 adjustments plus adjustments twice a month for a 9 month period after the first month of care.
The patients who received the one month of real adjustments had significant levels of improvement in pain and function as measured by pain and disability scores, generic health status, and back-specific patient satisfaction questionnaires over the fake adjustment group. By itself this data shows that chiropractic care results in improvement of pain and function and is more than a placebo as some still say chiropractic is. The researchers found that the group who received the maintenance care for 9 months after the first 12 visits had even better levels of improvement in pain and function over the 12 visit alone group. Additionally they noted that the patient group that got chiropractic adjustments for one month only worsened to their per-treatment pain levels after 9 months of no maintenance care. The authors conclude that “spinal manipulative therapy is effective for the treatment of chronic nonspecific low back pain. To obtain long-term benefit, this study suggests maintenance spinal manipulation after the initial intensive manipulative therapy.”
What does this all mean? Regular chiropractic care is important for managing chronic low back pain. The vast majority of the patients we see have chronic back conditions. If you have had back pain of varying intensity on and off for years, you have chronic back pain. Why do we recommend regular care after you have finished your initial course of treatment?, because it helps to keep your spine functioning properly and reduces the likelihood of a recurrence of back pain. If you do not believe me that regular chiropractic care is important for your spine health, look at this study by Egyptian MD’s for proof that it is.