CLEVELAND —Chiropractic treatment can be an issue for some yet new research shows that people with lower back discomfort who have their “back damaged” tend to stay clear of surgery in the future.

Particularly, research suggests that those who undergo chiropractic spinal manipulation to treat the pain caused by an injured disc or radiculopathy (injury to spinal nerves) at an early stage tend to be more likely to fix or remove their discs within the two years to come.

Spinal manipulation is among the most commonly used method chiropractors use. It includes a variety of hands-on therapies targeted to joints in the spine. Although chiropractic spinal manipulative technique has been proven beneficial in treatment of lower back discomfort There isn’t much studies that have examined whether the treatment can reduce the requirement for spinal surgery.

To get deeper into the matter, Robert J. Trager, chiropractic physician at Connor Whole Health, University Hospitals and his team, conducted the retrospective study using individuals between 18 to 49 from a of 101 million patients in the United States health records network. The study included data from patients between 2012 and 2022. To limit the number of patients suffering from severe pain, the study authors removed those from the study because of their potential need for surgery, regardless of treatment. The authors identified 5,785 people who were treated with chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy as well as the same amount who had received medical care for pain control.

The team then applied an statistical technique known as propensity score matching. This can help reduce biases in observation that are often present in these kinds of research. The method of matching could be used to eliminate factors that might affect the probability that patients will go through surgery. The researchers matched patients from both groups based on variables like the age, sex smoking, obesity, prior injections, as well as medicines.

Chiropractic patients experienced a notable reduction in their surgeries

Researchers have discovered that patients who had chiropractic spinal manipulation to treat their lower back discomfort were much less likely to undergo a discectomy (removal of a herniated disc). After a one-year follow-up period, 1.5 percent of the patients within the chiropractic group had the procedure. However, 2.2 percent of patients who were not chiropractic patients did the same. Two years later, the results were constant. In the chiropractic group, 1.9 percent had a discectomy, as opposed the 2.4 percent of patients who received different types of care.

Study authors believe this research provides valuable evidence to build the findings of previous studies which have examined chiropractic surgery. Trager and his team went one step further by carrying out the very first research to examine the connection between the treatment of a chiropractor and a decrease in the risk of discectomy. But, because of the fact that the study is a purely observational study, they acknowledge that their findings have some limitations . They cannot necessarily establish a causal relationship with chiropractic care and a lower need for back surgery.

The results were published by the scientific journal BMJ Open.