Washington, Feb 16 (ANI): Patients suffering from chronic lower back pain frequently turn to painkillers, which can cause side effects and be addictive, or to physical therapy, which is time-consuming and expensive.
However, a new review of an existing research is looking at a third option - spinal manipulation.
It has found that spinal manipulation - the kind of hands-on regimen that a chiropractor might perform on you - is as helpful as other common treatments like painkillers and is also safe.
"The decision to refer for manipulation should be based upon costs, preferences of the patient and providers, and relative safety of all treatment options," said lead author Sidney Rubinstein, a chiropractor in private practice and a postdoctoral researcher at the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam.
He said chiropractors in North America perform most spinal manipulation, where they move their hands around a patient's spine and joints, often producing an audible crack.
The review authors, who looked for randomised controlled studies, found 26 studies - with 6,070 participants - that met their criteria for inclusion in their review, but deemed only nine studies to be of high quality.
They found that spinal manipulation worked about as well as the other treatments.
It also appears to work well in particular for certain kinds of patients, including those with restricted movement in the back, those without psychological issues, and those without symptoms below the knee related to the sciatic nerve.
Spinal manipulation 'appears to be no better or worse than other existing therapies for patients with chronic low-back pain', said the review.
However, there is one small caveat. Three of the studies reviewed the kind of spinal manipulation that produces a crack sound and tried to fool some patients into not realizing they were getting a sham treatment.
However, it is unclear if they succeeded, said Rubinstein.
One study appeared to show that patients could distinguish whether they were getting the real thing.
Rubinstein said studies have shown that they help about two-thirds of patients.
The findings appear in the latest issue of The Cochrane Library. (ANI)