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Chiropractic Research Studies

Research Summaries Support the Effectiveness of Chiropractic

The Florida Study

The highlights of this Foundation for Chiropractic Education and Research-funded report support the findings of earlier studies of workers’ compensation claims that chiropractic care is more cost-effective than standard medical care in the management of work-related back injuries.  The results of this study indicated chiropractic patients suffered shorter periods of total disability, and their cost of care was lower, compared to patients of medical doctors, who were likely to be hospitalized.

The Utah Study

In another study of workers’ compensation claims, this study found that patients of chiropractic are returned to work sooner after an injury, reporting an average of two lost work days to 20 under standard medical care.  Furthermore, the study revealed that chiropractic care was 10 times less expensive than standard medical care in compensation payouts.  Funding of this study was provided by the Workers’ Compensation Fund of Utah, the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic and the Greenawalt Fellowship Fund.

The Meade Study

A three-year British comparison of chiropractic care and standard medical care of low back pain patients found chiropractic treatment more effective than hospital outpatient management for patients with chronic or severe back pain. The positive effects of chiropractic care in this study were even more evident during the follow-up period.  Funding of this study was provided by the Medical Research Council, the National Back Pain Association, the European Chiropractors Union, and the Kind Edward’s Hospital fund for London.

The Koes’ Clinical Trial

A Dutch project compared manipulative therapy (chiropractic) and physiotherapy (physical therapy) for the treatment of persistent back and neck complaints.  After 12 months, the manipulative therapy groups showed greater improvement in the primary complaint as in physical function, with fewer visits.  Funding for this trial was provided by the Dutch Ministry of Welfare, Health and Cultural Affairs, and by the Dutch Health Insurance Council.

The Magna Study

This study researched both the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the chiropractic management of low-back pain, and found “on the evidence, particularly the most applied by chiropractors is shown to be more effective than alternative treatment for low-back pain.  Many medical therapies are of questionable validity or are clearly inadequate.”  The study was funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health.

The Western Journal of Medicine reports that studies show:

  • Chiropractic care is one of the most effective methods in the treatment of back pain.  Back surgery and bed rest are ineffective methods in treating back pain.
  • Patients receiving medical treatment for back pain require almost four times longer to return to normal activity than those receiving chiropractic care (39.7 days vs. 10.8 days).
  • Two-thirds of chiropractic patients were “very satisfied” with the care they received for back pain, while only 22% of medical patients were.

The New Zealand Study

Ground-breaking research has for the first time (2007) identified the actual changes that occur in the body, the nervous system and the brain during chiropractic spinal adjustments. The study was conducted by award-winning Auckland researcher, Dr. Heidi Haavik-Taylor.  It demonstrates that chiropractic care sends signals to the brain that change the way the brain controls muscles. Dr. Haavik-Taylor has spent the last seven years researching the effects of chiropractic adjustments on the nervous system.  However, in her latest research, carried out in conjunction with fellow New Zealander Dr. Bernadette Murphy, she was able to measure how brain waves are altered before and after spinal adjustments. This is the first time that anyone has used EEG’s to prove that there are definite changes to the way the brain processes information after chiropractic care.

Americans are Choosing Chiropractic

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that patients in one year make an average of 425 million visits to alternative practitioners, mostly chiropractors, compared with 388 million visits to family physicians or other primary physicians. A New England Commission study found that many patients turned to chiropractic after other medical approaches failed to help them.  Studies show chiropractic is an effective an less costly method of caring for neuro-musculoskeletal conditions) such as headaches, neck, back, shoulder, arm, and leg pain, or any discomfort relating to muscle spasms, strain and pain).  A 40% to 50% savings result when chiropractic is the regimen of choice.

Headaches: Study Shows Chiropractic Effective

Evidence reports recently released by the Foundation for Chiropractic Education and Research (FCER) show the effectiveness of chiropractic care for sufferers of Tension Headaches.  The story released February of 2001, was the continuation of a release of a study done at Duke University several years earlier.  In the study many different types of physical and  behavioral treatments were used for patients with headaches.  Chiropractic care was specifically compared to amitriptyline, a common medication used for headaches. In this study the staff at the Duke Center screened articles from the literature, created evidence tables, and analyzed the quality and magnitude of results from these studies. They then drafted an evidence report with peer review from a panel of 25 reviewers, including researchers and clinicians in chiropractic. The results showed that chiropractic was highly effective for patients with tension headaches. When compared with the drug amitriptyline, chiropractic and the drug had similar short-term effects during the episode.  However, the drug carried with it an adverse reaction rate in 82% of the patients. The most profound effects were seen after the care was discontinued in the study.  In these instances the patients who were on drug therapy essentially returned to the same state as before.  However, the patients who were under chiropractic care continued to show sustained reduction in headache frequency and severity even after the chiropractic care was discontinued.  The implications are that chiropractic is not actually a therapy or treatment, but rather gets to the cause allowing the body to effect a correction that lasts beyond actual care.

Infantile Colic Improved with Chiropractic

The National Health Service in Ballerup (Copenhagen, Denmark) conducted a study involving 50 infants with diagnoses infantile colic.  Half of the group was given the drug dimethicon while the other half was given chiropractic care.  In this study nine of the 25 taking the drug dropped out of the study because the infants were getting worse.  These infants were then not counted in the final results, which would have shown a worse result for the drug than published. Even with the removal from the tabulations of the infants who got worst using the drug, the results showed a significant improvement in the group that were under chiropractic care.  By days 4 to 7 of the study, the infants remaining in the drug group had reduced their hours of crying by only one hour while the entire chiropractic group had reduced crying hours by an average of 2.4 hours.  The results after 8 to 10 day into the study continued to show the drug therapy infants at a one hour improvement while the chiropractic group further improved to 2.7 hours less of crying.  The researchers noted that the removal from the study of the infants that got worse from the drug made the results from the drug look better than they actually were.

Chiropractic Patient With Glaucoma Helped By Chiropractic

An interesting case study was recently published in the Journal Of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics July / August 2000 edition. In this journal was a case study review of a 25-year-old woman who went to a chiropractor for back pain. This woman was also suffering from congenital glaucoma which severely affected her vision. Before chiropractic care was initiated, the patient was sent for a comprehensive ophthalmologic examination to determine the severity of her glaucoma.  The result of that exam was that the patient did indeed have severe eyesight impairment due to her congenital condition. Almost immediately after she initiated her chiropractic care, (one visit), the patient noticed an improvement in eyesight. After four adjustments, the patients monocular visual field had increased from approximately 2% to approximately 20% of normal.  Although the patient would never regain total eyesight the ten-fold improvement in just one week was significant. Although many other reports of this type have been made by chiropractors, in their practices this case was unique because it was verified by a before, and after, ophthalmologic examination performed by an independent medical ophthalmic surgeon.  This case was also well documented and published in a peer reviewed scientific journal.

Infertility and Chiropractic

Several published case studies have highlighted the benefits and miraculous results of chiropractic care for patients who were unsuccessful in their attempt to have children.  In three successive issues of the Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research, (JVSR), case studies were published of women who were having trouble with infertility, and who were helped by chiropractic care. The December 8, 2003 JVSR reported on a case study of a 32-year-old female with a history of infertility, who had attempted to become pregnant since August 1999, with no success and sought chiropractic care in November of 2001.  Prior to the chiropractic care, she had received unsuccessful conventional medical treatment, including detailed fertility testing, artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, and treatment with the fertility drug Clomid. She sought chiropractic care on November 3, 2001. Chiropractic analysis and correction were performed over the next six weeks and during this time, the patient’s secondary complaints of low back pain and headaches improved dramatically.  Additionally, the patient’s fertility specialists noted that her estrogen levels, endometrial thickness, and cervical mucus levels were all at more favorable levels than at the time of the first in vitro attempt. A second attempt at in vitro fertilization was made on February 17, 2002, and the patient had a positive pregnancy test on March 2, 2002. The second case was that of a thirty-four year old woman who presented for chiropractic care on January 10, 2000. Her concerns listed a variety of conditions, including a history of infertility. This patient made no other alterations in her lifestyle or clinical situation besides the addition of chiropractic care.  Approximately 4-5 weeks into the care program the patient conceived naturally. The third case was interesting because the woman was not trying to conceive.  This case was that of a 65-year young female who presented with agonizing low back pain and severe lumbar degeneration.  After four weeks of care she began spotting and was diagnosed as having a normal menstrual cycle. What was really interesting about this case was that she had experienced a severe fall at 13 years of age, which resulted in a complete cessation of her menses at 18. She was diagnosed as infertile. In each of these cases the chiropractic care was specific for correction of vertebral subluxations that were determined to be interfering with the normal function of the nervous system. This in turn disrupted the reproductive system of the patients. The conclusion of one of the studies sums up the process by saying, “The human body is designed to be healthy and to reproduce. Impairment of this ability indicates dysfunction on a fundamental level. Subluxations of the spine and the associated nervous system dysfunction can hinder proper function of body systems.”

Chiropractic and Asthma

Three case studies reported in the September 2005 issue of the British scientific journal, Clinical Chiropractic, highlighted the success of chiropractic care on patients with long term asthma.  The study performed at the University Of Surrey Chiropractic clinic, reported that asthma is the most common chronic disease in the United Kingdom, with nearly 3.5 million people affected, including 1.3 million children. These studies document three separate cases of individuals who had suffered with asthma for years. The first was a 28-year-old athletic male who had been suffering from asthma since childhood.  The study notes that his symptoms were most prevalent when exercising and at night. He was using an inhaler daily in the morning and at night before going to bed.  The report then notes that he began a program of chiropractic care.  The study reported that a few weeks into his care he felt so good that one night he forgot to use his inhaler. He reported that he suffered no ill effects and reported he had a “great night’s sleep”.  From that point forward he reportedly did not use his inhaler at night, and was extremely pleased with the results achieved from chiropractic care. The next case was a 56-year-old woman who had been diagnosed with asthma 5 years previously. She reported that her main symptoms were chest tightness and coughing.  After just 2 weeks of chiropractic care, she reported feeling “much better within herself”. She reported that she found it much easier to breathe with less coughing. Additionally she also reported feeling less tired, and had also noticed that her dry skin had apparently also shown dramatic improvement.  “I knew this treatment was having an effect as I could feel the changes happening.” The third case in this report was of a 26-year-old woman, who had suffered with asthma since childhood.  In her case she played rugby competitively for a ladies’ team and she reported that she always had to stop during the game to use her inhaler.  She would also awaken each night wheezing and have to use her inhaler. In her case, after starting chiropractic, she reported being able to play a whole game of rugby without needing her inhaler once, and was sleeping through the night uninterrupted. The report noted “the mechanism by which chiropractic is thought to affect asthma is based upon the proposition that spinal adjustment can modify autonomic nervous system”.

Asthma Study Shows Chiropractic Benefits

From the November/December 2000 issue of Today’s Chiropractic, comes a study report on Asthma.  The article notes that approximately 14 Americans die each day from asthma. Asthma is only one of three diseases that have shown an increasing death rate in recent years, up 58% since 1979.  Presently estimates say that 17 million Americans suffer from the disease making it the most common and costly illness in the United States today, costing over $13 billion annually. Presently, asthma causes more hospitalizations of children than any other childhood disease. In the study, 47 patients were observed for a two-year period.  These patients had all been medically diagnosed with persistent asthma ranging from mild persistent in 11 cases, moderate persistent in 28 cases, to severe persistent in 8 cases.  The care rendered consisted of specific chiropractic adjustments.  The range of visits was from 14 to 44, with the average being 26 during the study period. Most patients in the study began care at a rate of 3 visits per week with this frequency being reduced after 4 to 8 initial weeks. The patient results were very good with all 47 of the study patients showing a marked improvement ranging from 87 to 100 percent. Patient observed improvement was measured by both improvements in their symptoms as well as a decrease in their usage of acute asthma attack medication. Even more impressive was that all of the patients in the study reported maintaining their improvement after a two-year follow up.

Study Shows Even a Single Adjustment Helps Neck Pain

A study published in the September 2006 issue of the scientific journal, The Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, (JMPT), showed that a single chiropractic adjustment helps neck pain.  Although most chiropractors will recommend more than a single adjustment for their patients, this study was designed to see if one adjustment only could have an immediate effect on neck pain. In this study 70 patients with neck pain were tested using standardized tests for neck range of motion and pain.  These subjects were randomly separated into two groups.  One group then received a chiropractic adjustment which the study defined as a “high-velocity low-amplitude (HVLA) manipulation.”  While the other group received a “control mobilization procedure.”  The subjects in both of these groups were then re-tested 5 minutes after the procedure for range of motion and pain. The results showed that both groups experienced improvements in both range of motion and pain when comparing the pre and post testing.  However, the researchers discovered that those subjects that received the chiropractic adjustment (HVLA) had far superior results than the group that had just mobilization.  Researchers also noted that it did not matter if the subject was male or female.  Essentially, the group that had the chiropractic adjustment had less pain and a better range of motion when tested 5 minutes after the procedure was performed. This study intentionally did not look at the long term effects of just a single adjustment.  Most chiropractors believe that a series of adjustments are needed to create a lasting change in the spine and nervous system.  However, this study does confirm that even a single specific adjustment does create an immediate positive change.  This study also points out that a chiropractic adjustment is much more effective than random mobilization, such as was received by the control group in this study. The researchers stated in their conclusion, “A single cervical high velocity-low amplitude manipulation was more effective in reducing neck pain at rest and in increasing active cervical range of motion than a control mobilization procedure in subjects suffering from mechanical neck pain.”

Chiropractic and Bedwetting

Several recent studies have shown the benefits of chiropractic care for children suffering from “Nocturnal Enuresis” more commonly known as bedwetting. Several studies published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics showed marked improvement in children with this problem over children who did not receive chiropractic care. In one study 171 children suffering with enuresis averaged 7 nights of bed wetting per week prior to the study. After the children were given some initial chiropractic care the average child reduced the number of “wet” nights to 4 nights per week. A full 25% of the children receiving chiropractic showed a 50% reduction in wet nights. In addition, only 1% of the children were considered “dry” prior to the study and prior to receiving chiropractic care. After the study 15% of the children were then considered “dry”. In another study, 46 primary enuretic children were studied. Of this group 31 were placed under chiropractic care while 15 were in the control group and did not receive any chiropractic care. The results of this study showed a 17.9% decrease in wet nights for the chiropractic group. Over the same period of time no change was noted for the control group who did not receive any chiropractic care. Amazingly, improvement in some of the studies was shown to be immediate after the first adjustment and remain stable thereafter.