Many patients use medications to control chronic back pain, especially anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen. It is estimated that 30 billion doses are consumed in the U.S. every year.
But these drugs have serious side effects. They are the second leading cause of ulcers, causing more than 100,000 hospitalizations and 17,000 deaths every year in the U.S. They also are associated with deaths due to heart disease. Tylenol is not a lot better, it is the leading cause of acute liver failure in the U.S. And we all know about the dangers of the newer opiate drugs like oxycodone and hydrocodone, with their tendency to cause addiction. Are there better, especially safer, options to control chronic back pain?
One study supports an old chiropractic idea, called maintenance care. For a long time, chiropractors have urged their patients to continue care on a preventive basis, to keep the gains they have made with their care, to prevent future spinal problems, and improve overall health. This study recruited 40 patients with chronic back pain that had lasted at least six months. They all got a month of chiropractic treatment, which significantly helped their pain. For half the patients, treatment was stopped there, and for the rest, they continued treatment every two weeks for nine more months. At the end of the trial, 10 months in all, the patients who followed through on the maintenance care not only kept the relief they gained from the first month of care, but they actually continued to improve. The other patients tended to lose most of the benefit over the next nine months.
Study Chiropractic: Maintenance Care