A new study has found that people who received chiropractic care combined with exercise and advice experienced more relief and improvement in leg pain related to back problems than those who received exercise and advice alone. Generally, patients who experience leg pain (linked to back problems) such as sciatica are treated with injection, prescription medications and surgery. The study results published in the Annals of Internal Medicine recommends spinal manipulative therapy provided by chiropractors along with exercise and self management as low-risk strategies to overcome back-related leg pain that has lasted for more than 4 weeks.
The study was carried out as part of the "Integrative Health and Wellbeing Research Program" conducted at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. It was found that the unique combination of spinal manipulation along with exercise and self management yielded higher benefits in pain reduction, patient satisfaction, overall improvement, medication use and general physical health status after 12 weeks. Moreover, nine months after the treatment ended, patients who received this therapy were feeling far better than other patients.
As part of the study, researchers analyzed the pain symptoms of around 192 adults aged 21 years and above who suffered backache that had been radiating into the legs for about 4 weeks.
Researchers gave instructions for more than half of the patients to do specific physical exercise programs at home along with other pain management techniques. Moreover, these patients visited a chiropractor (during the first 12 weeks) up to 20 times and spent around 10-20 minutes for spinal manipulation at each visit.
On the other hand, patients in the other group also received specific instructions for exercise and other techniques without spinal manipulative therapy. These patients also consulted a chiropractor, physical therapist, or personal trainer during the first 12 weeks for about 4 one – hour sessions. The patients were asked to evaluate the intensity of their pain three times – at the beginning of the study, after 12 weeks of treatment and at the end of the treatment. The key findings of the study are mentioned below:
- After 12 weeks of treatment, about 37% of people who received spinal manipulative therapy plus physical workout and advice experienced overall pain reduction, improvement and satisfaction by at least three quarters when compared to just 19% of people who received only exercise and advice.
- After the treatment ended, the spinal manipulation group reported less medication use and higher improvement and satisfaction. More than half of these patients felt a 50% reduction in leg pain symptoms in both short and long term interval.
The study results signify that spinal manipulation when combined with exercise and self-care is a suitable treatment option for chronic leg ache. Low back pain is a common affliction as four out of five people end up developing this condition and more than 40% of people experience leg pain associated with the same. Individuals who experience severe pain can consult a chiropractor, physical therapist or osteopath who can provide spinal manipulation treatment for effective pain management.