In the study, they tracked 272 patients for 12 weeks. What they found was that those who used a chiropractor, or those that used exercise, were more than twice as likely to be pain free than those who took medication.
32% who used chiropractic care became pain free
30% of those who exercised became pain free
13% of those treated with medication became pain free
The researchers concluded:
“For participants with acute and sub-acute neck pain, SMT (Spinal Manipulation Therapy) was more effective than medication in both the short and long term. However, a few instructional sessions of HEA (home exercise and advice)
resulted in similar outcomes at most time points.”
After reading this, my first thought was if chiropractic care and exercise work so well to help people become pain free individually, then surely if they were done together, the results would be even better. Improving spinal function through chiropractic care and then using exercise to help strengthen the area and improve flexibility and mobility will surely be the best bet. I wonder if they have done the research on the combination of the two? This would be interesting to see. My focus when I see people at work for neck or low back pain is to improve the function of the area through chiropractic care and then give advice on the appropriate exercises, stretches and postural changes they need, that will help give them the best and longest lasting results.
The same study also revealed that after following a specific exercise program, people with neck pain had an improved ability to maintain a neutral cervical posture during prolonged sitting. Why is this important? A lot of neck pain is due to poor posture (especially forward head carriage). In this position, the muscles in the neck and upper back have to work extra hard, they get fatigued and ultimately lead to neck pain, headaches and upper back/shoulder pain. Appropriate exercising will help strengthen these muscles and help improve your posture and therefore help you avoid the position that is causing the problems in the first place. Prevention is much better than cure!
If you are suffering from neck or back pain, before heading straight to the medicine cabinet, consider having a proper assessment of the area and also find out what exercises/stretches are needed to help the problem naturally. If you would like to find out more about chiropractic or my approach to health and wellness, please contact me. I am happy to help.
Annals of Internal Medicine, Jan 3 2012, vol 156