Spinal manipulative therapy same as standard care for acute low back pain
PainSci summary of Jüni 2009?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focussed on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided at the bottom of the page, as often as possible. ★★★☆☆?3-star ratings are for typical studies with no more (or less) than the usual common problems. Ratings are a highly subjective opinion, and subject to revision at any time. If you think this paper has been incorrectly rated, please let me know.
In this good test of SMT, researchers took a hundred patients with nasty, fresh cases of low back pain, and delivered half of them into the care of chiropractors, and the other half into “standard care” — advice and ordinary pain medications, namely. Note that it has often been argued that SMT is best for acute low back pain, not chronic, so this is right in chiropractic’s strike zone: if there is anything remotely impressive about SMT, it should have done well in this contest. It should have pulled out a can of whupass on “advice and meds.” It did not.
SMT and standard care did equally well — or equally poorly, if you prefer. All the patients had the same experience that pretty much everyone with chronic back pain has. The researchers found that “SMT is unlikely to result in relevant early pain reduction in patients with acute low back pain.”
OBJECTIVE: To determine whether treatment with spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) administered in addition to standard care is associated with clinically relevant early reductions in pain and analgesic consumption.
METHODS: We randomised 104 patients with acute low back pain to SMT in addition to standard care (n=52) or standard care alone (n=52). Standard care consisted of general advice and paracetamol, diclofenac or dihydrocodein as required. Other analgesic drugs or non-pharmacological treatments were not allowed. Primary outcomes were pain intensity assessed on the 11 point box scale (BS-11) and analgesic use based on diclofenac equivalence doses during days 1 to 14. An extended follow-up was performed at 6 months.
RESULTS: Pain reductions were similar in experimental and control groups, with the lower limit of the 95% confidence interval (95%-CI) excluding a relevant benefit of SMT (difference 0.5 on the BS-11, 95%-CI -0.2 to 1.2, p=0.13). Analgesic consumptions were also similar (difference -18 mg diclofenac equivalents, 95%-CI -43 mg to 7 mg, p=0.17), with small initial differences diminishing over time. There were no differences between groups in any of the secondary outcomes and stratified analyses provided no evidence for potential benefits of SMT in specific patient groups. The extended follow-up showed similar patterns.
CONCLUSIONS: SMT is unlikely to result in relevant early pain reduction in patients with acute low back pain.
These three articles on PainScience.com cite Jüni 2009 as a source:
- PS Save Yourself from Low Back Pain! — Low back pain myths debunked and all your treatment options reviewed
- PS Does Chiropractic Work? — An introduction to chiropractic controversies like aggressive billing, spinal adjustment as a panacea, treating kids, neck manipulation risks, and more
- PS Does Spinal Manipulation Work? — Spinal manipulation, adjustment, and popping of the spinal joints and the subluxation theory of disease, back pain and neck pain