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Spinal Manipulation Can Ease Your Aching Back

When you wrench your back, your first impulse may be to rummage through the medicine cabinet for an over-the-counter pain drug or even ask your doctor to prescribe a strong opioid painkiller such as Percocet or Vicodin.

But an analysis published April 11 in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that spinal manipulation can ease your backache and get you moving again without the risk of medication side effects.

A new Consumer Reports survey of more than 3,500 back-pain sufferers reached similar conclusions: Nearly 90 percent of people who tried spinal manipulation found it helpful.   

Spinal manipulation involves a healthcare provider applying controlled forces to the spine to improve alignment and allow the muscles and joints to move more easily. While it’s usually done by a chiropractor, some doctors of osteopathic medicine (D.O.) and physical therapists also use the technique.

For the JAMA analysis, researchers from the Department of Veterans Affairs and elsewhere combined results from 26 studies involving more than 3,000 patients with low-back pain lasting six weeks or less. Patients treated with spinal manipulation were able to move through daily activities with less pain than people who didn’t get the therapy.

On average, people treated with spinal manipulation said that their pain improved about 10 points on a 100-point scale.

“The beneficial effects on pain and function are real, but modest—like most other therapies for short-term low-back pain,” says Paul G. Shekelle, M.D., chief of general internal medicine at the Greater Los Angeles VA Healthcare system, and an author of the JAMA study.

American Chiropractic Association Statement on House Passage of Republican Health Care Bill

The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) acknowledges the difficulties associated with implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), passed in 2010. Many exchanges are down to only one plan available to consumers and premiums have skyrocketed since the law has been in effect.

“The bill passed yesterday by the House of Representatives needs further work to truly enhance patient access to affordable conservative care,” said ACA President David A. Herd, DC. “The American Chiropractic Association is particularly concerned with a state’s ability to apply for a waiver to jettison the essential health benefits provision of PPACA, which outlines the list of benefits that plans in the exchange and the private markets must contain. Our fear is that the only affordable plans that will be available will contain minimal coverage, limiting patient access to chiropractors and other providers who offer non-drug, noninvasive conservative approaches to health care.”

The bill, the American Health Care Act of 2017 (H.R. 1628), now heads to the Senate, where it is expected to be amended significantly and may look very little like the bill passed by the House. Differences in each chamber’s bill will have to be settled in a House-Senate conference committee.  Exact timing on Senate action is not known at this time.

“There was little opportunity for stakeholder input throughout this process,” Dr. Herd stated. “We trust the Senate will hone this legislation to protect the millions of patients who have coverage and remove onerous provisions such as the one adversely affecting the essential benefits package. The chiropractic profession remains at the ready to work with the Senate to provide input, especially on issues regarding access to cost-effective conservative treatment provided by doctors of chiropractic.”

About the American Chiropractic Association
The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) is the largest professional association in the United States representing doctors of chiropractic. ACA promotes the highest standards of ethics and patient care, contributing to the health and well-being of millions of chiropractic patients. To find an ACA chiropractor near you, visit

Media Contact:
Amanda Donohue
phone: (703) 812­-0209

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