The new study is one of the few head-to-head comparisons of various treatments for neck pain, a problem that affects three quarters of Americans at some point in their lives.
But the new research, published in The Annals of Internal Medicine, found that chiropractic care and simple exercises were better at reducing pain than taking medications like aspirin, ibuprofen or narcotics.
“Even a year later, there were differences between the spinal manipulation and medication groups.” Said Dr. Gert Bronfort, an author of the study and research professor at Northwestern Health Sciences University in Minnesota.
Moderate and acute neck pain is one of the most frequent reasons for trips to primary care doctors, prompting millions of visits every year. For patients, it can be a difficult problem to navigate. In some cases the pain and stiffness crop up without explanation, and treatment options are varied. Physical therapy, pain medication and spinal manipulation are popular options, but Dr. Bronfort was inspired to carry out an analysis because so little research exists.
“There was a void in the scientific literature in terms of what the most helpful treatments are,” he said.
To find out, Dr. Bronfort and his colleagues recruited a large group of adults with neck pain that had no known specific cause. The subjects, 272 in all, were mostly recruited from a large HMO and through advertisements. The researchers then split them into three groups and followed them for about three months.
One group was assigned to visit a chiropractor throughout the course of the study. A second group was assigned to take common pain relievers like acetaminophen and – in some cases, at the discretion of a doctor – stronger drugs like narcotics and muscle relaxants. The third group met on two occasions with physical therapists who gave them instructions on simple, gentle exercises for the neck.
After 12 weeks, the people in the non-medication groups did significantly better than those taking the drugs. About 57 percent of those who met with chiropractors and 48 percent who did the exercises reported at least a 75 percent reduction in pain, compared to 33 percent of the people in the medication group.
A year later, when the researchers checked back in, 53 percent of the subjects who had received spinal manipulation still reported at least a 75 percent reduction in pain, similar to the exercise group. That compared to just a 38 percent pain reduction among those who had been taking medication.
In addition to their limited pain relief, the medications had at least one other downside: people kept taking them. “The people in the medication group kept on using a higher amount of medication more frequently throughout the follow-up period, up to a year later,” Dr. Bronfort said. “If you’re taking medication over a long time, then we’re running into more systemic side effects like gastrointestinal problems.”
He also expressed concern that those on medications were not as empowered or active in their own care as those in the other groups. “We think it’s important that patients are enabled to deal with as much control over their own condition as possible,” he said. “This study shows that they can play a large role in their own care.”
(“For Neck Pain, Chiropractic and Exercise are Better than Drugs”, Anahad O’Connor, NY Times, January 3rd, 2012.)
Peak Performance Comments:
This study compared patients receiving chiropractic care OR exercise and both proved to be more effective than drugs. We have taken it one step further by combing both physical therapy exercises, chiropractic care as well as natural medical procedures to get rid of the knots in the muscles of the neck. This combined approach gives results that are exponentially better than just doing one or the other.
Peak Neck Pain Solution:
- Make sure your spine is aligned with gentle chiropractic adjustments. This will increase range of motion and free up nerve irritation.
- Get specific neck exercises prescribed for your specific neck problem.
- Make sure your postural habits, especially at your work station, does not damage the corrections made by 1 & 2 above.
Peak Performance Success Stories with: Neck Pain
Success with: Neck Pain
I came to Peak Performance suffering from back and neck soreness that I had dealt with for twenty years. I tried some yoga and massage but I did not see or feel much improvement. No doctors really addressed my condition before coming to Peak Performance.
Since I have been coming, I have experienced many changes in my physical and emotional well-being. I have better range of motion and more flexibility in my neck, shoulders and upper back. My formerly tight muscles have relaxed. In addition my posture is aligned to a greater degree. I also find that I have better concentration, clarity and a sense of calm resulting from the adjustments. In general, my body feels as thought it is working “with me” rather than “against me”.
My future will be better because of my lifestyle changes such as increased stretching and strengthening exercises recommended by the rehab department. As a result of the comprehensive changes I will probably be less of a risk for diseases encountered along the road.
I would recommend Peak Performance! They use a comprehensive system of exercise, diet and adjustments and this forms a partnership between the patient and doctor.
Success with: Neck Problems
I came to Peak Performance because I had difficulty turning my head to the left without getting a sharp pain in the left rear of my neck. This pain had been persisting for about a year and was getting progressively worse. My other problem was my right knee pain that was getting worse and became more intense when I started marathon training program aggressively. The pain made me discontinue my training regime.
I tried to do my own training plan that would help me gain stability in my running mechanics but I was unsuccessful. My plan then turned into not running until I knew what was wrong.
I did not choose Chiropractic care in the past because I did not have good health insurance or money to pay for treatments. I also had skepticism, doubting that a spinal adjustment would improve anything.
Since becoming a patient at Peak Performance I can turn my head to the left pain free and my right knee doesn’t’ hurt when I run. As I continue doing my physical therapy plan on my own I find that my neck, knees and running ability improve. I feel like I have the tools that I need to be able to train safely and to always be taking steps forward with my training program. My future will be better because I can check my blind spots pain free, run faster and I feel stronger with my body mechanics in alignment.
I would definitely recommend Peak Performance to others because the staff is really there for you. I feel confidant in the staff’s credentials and their objective methodology employed to solve my health issues. As I got further into my therapy I realized and believed in the Peak Performance approach as a lifelong pursuit of good health. They seek permanent changes in the way healthcare is approached from a “run to failure” system to a proactive system.
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