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If you have never considered going to a chiropractor to treat the pain in your neck or back, maybe you should.  There are an increasing number of studies that confirm the effectiveness of chiropractic care in the treatment of back and neck pain, particularly in comparison with pain-relieving drugs.

According to a report published in the September 2011 issue of Consumer Reports, chiropractic treatment outperformed all other methods for treating back pain, including prescription medication.  Of those reporting that a treatment “helped a lot” in the management of their back pain, 65% listed chiropractic (the highest rated treatment) as the most effective, as opposed to 53% for prescription medication.  Other natural therapies were also useful (e.g. deep tissue massage helped 51% of patient a lot, yoga/pilates–49%, acupuncture–41%), but none approached the effectiveness of chiropractic care.  Similar results were found for the treatment of neck pain (chiropractic–64%, prescription medication–49%).  Results were based on the Consumer Reports National Research Center’s 2010 Annual Questionnaire, analyzed by researchers from the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database.

In a study performed by researchers at Minnesota’s Northwestern Health Sciences University, chiropractic care was more effective for treating neck pain than medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen or narcotic pain relievers.  The study, published in The Annals of Internal Medicine, followed over 270 people with neck pain for about three months.  These people were divided into three different treatment groups.  The first group received chiropractic care, the second group was prescribed exercises to do at home and the third group was prescribed painkillers or muscle relaxers.  Approximately 57% of the chiropractic group reported experiencing a reduction in pain of at least 75%, compared with 33% of those in the medication group.

Author of the study, Dr. Gert Bronfort, a research professor at the university, said that of the positive changes that had resulted from chiropractic treatment, “These changes were diminished over time, but they were still present.  Even a year later, there were differences between the spinal manipulation and medication groups.”

Another downside that the medication group experienced was that it was necessary to keep taking the painkillers.  Dr. Bronfort said, “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.”  One of the great benefits of chiropractic care is that it treats the source of the problem, leading to long-term pain relief, in comparison with painkillers that just mask the symptoms.

Research has found that the most benefit in the relief of neck and back pain comes from a combination of chiropractic care and exercises you do at home.  Your chiropractor can suggest effective exercises that you can do at home in between adjustments that will work synergistically with your chiropractic care so that you can experience long-term relief from your back and neck pain.

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