What research exists surrounding the effectiveness of Chiropractic?

There has been plenty of research demonstrating the effectiveness of Chiropractic. In the UK, The Medical Research Council (MRC) trial in 1990 and follow-up in 1995 showed Chiropractic was effective at treating back pain and had good long-term results, especially for people with severe and long-standing back pain.

This prompted the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) to write GP Guidelines for Management of Low Back Pain and included chiropractic treatment as a preferred treatment, and dramatically changed the overall basis of medical treatment for back pain from one of rest and immobility to one of activity, movement and working as much as possible. They recommend to prescribe bed rest as a short-term treatment only during the acute and painful phase.

Making progress

Historically, GPs have been reluctant to recommend Chiropractic due to a sentiment of lack of evidence. But several years later, much research has been provided showing that it is effective, affordable and safe.

We have seen a tremendous change in GPs’ and many other health professionals’ attitudes towards chiropractic and we receive referrals more regularly now than we ever have, which we are very grateful for.

Continuing research

More and more research continues to be produced. It can be difficult to keep up with the latest information. Below is a list of research and links of some of the major UK Chiropractic Research. This list is by no means comprehensive, so please feel free to update me with any suggestions.

1990: Medical Research Council. ‘Low Back pain of mechanical origin: randomised comparison of Chiropractic from hospital outpatient treatment’. Conclusions: For patients with low back pain in whom manipulation is not contraindicated, chiropractic almost certainly confers worthwhile, long term benefit in comparison with hospital outpatient management. The benefit is seen mainly in those with chronic or severe pain. Introducing chiropractic into NHS practice should be considered.

1994: Clinical Standards Advisory Group. CSAG Backpain Report

1995: Medical Research Council.: Randomised comparison of chiropractic and hospital outpatient management for low back pain: results from extended follow up. Conclusions: At three years, the results confirm the findings of an earlier report that when chiropractic or hospital therapists treat patients with low back pain as they would in day-to-day practice, those treated by chiropractic derive more benefit and long-term satisfaction than those treated by hospitals.

2004: UK Beam Trial Team.: Spinal manipulation is a cost-effective addition to “best care” for back pain in general practice. Manipulation alone probably gives better value for money than manipulation followed by exercise.

2006: European Commission guidelines for the management of acute, nonspecific low back pain in primary care. Recommends the consideration of spinal manipulation for patients failing to return to normal activities.

2006: National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).: Non-rigid stabilisation techniques for the treatment of low back pain Interventional procedures guidance [IPG366] Published date: November 2010 “Chiropractic can be used for acute low back pain treatment”

2006: Musculoskeletal Services Framework. Department of Health.

  1. Guidance on activity, lifestyle, prognosis and prevention.
  2. Physical treatments – manual therapy, spinal manipulation and rehabilitation exercise.
  3. Advice about pain control, including non-prescription medication

The Anglo European College of Chiropractic and Welsh Institute of Chiropractic, two of the colleges of chiropractic education in the UK, have full and varied research interests.

2010: NICE Guidelines for treatment of low back pain: Interventional procedures guidance. The guidelines recommended manual therapy, including spinal manipulation, spinal mobilisation and massage, including chiropractic spinal manipulation.

2010: The Effectiveness of Manual Therapies: Spinal manipulation/mobilization is effective for certain types of back and neck pain, headaches, migraines and extremity joint conditions.