Chiropractic is a health care profession dedicated to the non-surgical treatment of disorders of the nervous system and/or musculoskeletal system. Generally, chiropractors maintain a unique focus on spinal manipulation and treatment of surrounding structures.
Many studies have concluded that manual therapies commonly used by chiropractors are generally effective for the treatment of lower back pain1-2, as well as for treatment of lumbar herniated disc for radiculopathy3-4 and neck pain, among other conditions.5
In fact, when patients with non-specific chronic low back pain are treated by chiropractors, the long-term outcome is enhanced by obtaining maintenance spinal manipulation after the initial intensive manipulative therapy.6
This article provides an in-depth review of chiropractic treatment for low back pain.
Core Chiropractic Treatment
The core of chiropractic usually involves treatment of common lower back pain conditions through manual therapy:
- Spinal manipulation and manual manipulation.7 This type of manual manipulation refers to a high-velocity, short lever arm thrust that is applied to abnormal vertebra with the goal of improving functionality, reducing nerve irritability and restoring range of motion in the back. It is also commonly known as "chiropractic adjustment".
There is firm literature support for chiropractic treatment of lower back pain. Many of the published guidelines recommend chiropractic manipulation to be included in the treatment plan early in the care of lower back pain.8-16
- Mobilization.7 Chiropractic mobilization refers to low velocity manipulation, movement and stretching of the muscles and joints, with the goal of increasing the range of motion within those areas.
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Chiropractic Treatment Plan
Goal setting for the chiropractic treatment plan is driven by the patient's pain and disability issues and activity intolerance.
Consistent among all guidelines of low back pain treatment is the prevention of chronicity. The use of active care (care that is patient-driven such as exercise, activity modification, ergonomic modifications, etc.) is emphasized to accomplish this goal.
- Rubinstein SM, van Middelkoop M, et al., "Spinal manipulative therapy for chronic low-back pain," Cochrane Database Syst Rev.
- Bigos S, Bowyer O, Braen G et al., "Acute low back problems in adults."