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Chiropractic Research




There have been a number of studies that compare chiropractic treatment with other treatments in regards to the satisfaction experienced by patients. Chiropractors score very high in these studies. According to those that matter - the patients - chiropractors provide better care for back conditions than other providers.

"The Outcomes and Costs of Care for Acute Low Back Pain Among Patients Seen By Primary Care Practitioners, Chiropractors, and Orthopedic Surgeons", New England Journal of Medicine 1995, Vol, pp. 913-917. This study compared low back pain patients seen by MD's, chiropractors, orthopedic surgeons, or HMO providers. It found patients seen by chiropractors were considerably more satisfied with the care they received than those treated by the other providers. Specifically, those seen by chiropractors were more likely to report that their care was excellent (47.1% vs 30.3%), that a careful examination was performed (96.1% vs 79.9%), and that the cause of their back pain was clearly explained (93.6% vs 74.6%).

"Patterns and Perceptions of Care for Treatment of Back and Neck Pain: Results of a National Survey." Spine 2003; 28(3): 292-298. These researchers surveyed over 2,000 adults asking if they had suffered from back or neck pain in the past 12 months. Of those who had seen a chiropractor for their pain, 61% said the treatment was "very helpful". Of those who received medical care only 27% indicated it to be "very helpful".

"Patient Evaluations of Low Back Pain Care from Family Physicians and Chiropractors", Western Journal of Medicine 1989, Vol. 150(3), PP. 351-355. This study compared patients seen by chiropractors to those seen by medical doctors in a large US HMO. Patients of chiropractors were more satisfied with the care they received. Chiropractic patients were "very satisfied with care" 66% of the time vs 22% for MD patients; stated the doctor seemed confident about back pain diagnosis (DC 61 % vs 23% MD); and felt the doctor was concerned about them (DC 58% vs 20% MD).




The most common conditions seen by a chiropractor are low back pain, neck pain and headaches. These studies highlight the effectiveness of chiropractic in treating these conditions.

"Efficacy of Spinal Manipulation and Mobilization for Low Back Pain and Neck Pain: A Systematic Review and Best Evidence Synthesis." The Spine Journal 2004,4:335-356. The authors of this review concluded that there are more randomized controlled trials studying the effects of spinal manipulative therapy (chiropractic adjustments) on low back pain than any other treatment method. They concluded, based on the best evidence, that chiropractic treatment can confidently be considered a viable treatment for back and neck pain. Of the many therapies available, chiropractic adjustments were shown to be one of the most thoroughly studied and effective treatments. The only therapies with similar proof of effectiveness were mobilization - another treatment used by chiropractors - and medication.

"A Randomized Clinical Trial Comparing Chiropractic Adjustments to Muscle Relaxants for Sub-Acute Low Back Pain." JMPT 2004; 27:388-398. This study compared chiropractic adjustments with the use of muscle relaxants and placebo. Chiropractic adjustments were more effective than placebo in reducing pain and similarly effective to muscle relaxants. Chiropractic treatment was more effective than muscle relaxants in reducing the patients Global Impression of Severity Scale.

"Chronic Spinal Pain - A Randomized Clinical Trail Comparing Medication, Acupuncture and Spinal Manipulation" Spine 2003; 28: 1490-1503. This study compared the effects of chiropractic treatment with acupuncture and medication for 115 patients with chronic spine pain. Chiropractic manipulation proved to be the most effective treatment. Of those treated by chiropractic, 27% showed a complete recovery. Patients treated with Acupuncture showed only a 9% complete recovery, and with medication the complete recovery rate was 5%.

AHCPR Clinical Practice Guideline # 14 - 1994. Acute Low Back Problems in Adults. US Department of Health and Human Services. This US Clinical Practice Guideline was created by a 23-member expert panel of medical doctors, physiotherapists, chiropractors and PhD's. The guideline concluded that low back pain could be relieved most effectively and safely by two methods: non-prescription medication and/or spinal manipulation (chiropractic adjustments). Most other therapies in use for low back pain treatment were found to be either ineffective or poorly supported by research. Side effects from medication were found to be greater than those associated with manipulation, which were few and rare.

"Manual Therapy, Physical Therapy or Continued Care by a General Practitioner for Patients with Neck Pain." Annals of Internal Medicine 2002; 136: 713-722. A recent study compared chiropractic treatment with physical therapy and treatment by general practitioners. The chiropractic treatment of neck pain proved most effective. After 7 weeks, chiropractors had a success rate of 68.3% which was two times higher than the success rate of general practitioners.

"Efficacy of Spinal Manipulation for Chronic Headache: A Systematic Review." J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2001 (Sept); 24 (7): 457-466. This review of the available literature on chronic headaches indicated chiropractic treatment to be as effective as medication in relieving chronic migraine and tension-type headaches.




Many studies have shown chiropractic care to be beneficial for more than just back and neck pain. This is because all systems and organs of the body can benefit from a healthy spine.

Atlas Vertebra Realignment and Achievement of Arterial Pressure Goal in Hypertensive Patients: A Pilot Study, Journal of Human Hypertension 2007, 1-7. This recent study examined the effect of neck manipulation on 50 patients with high blood pressure. Those patients who received chiropractic upper cervical treatment showed an average drop in systolic pressure of 14 points and drop in diastolic pressure of 8 points. This drop was maintained during the entire 8 week study period. Those who did not receive treatment but rather received a fake adjustment (placebo) did not show this same drop.

The Short-Term Effect of Spinal manipulation on the Treatment of Infantile Colic: A Randomized Controlled Trial with a Blinded Observer. JMPT. 1999: 22(8): 517-522. This study compared chiropractic treatment of colic with a commonly used medication. After 2 weeks of chiropractic adjustments the colicky behavior had decreased from an average of 3.9 hours per day to an average of 1.2 hours per day (67% reduction). In infants receiving medication there was a reduction from an average of 3.4 hours per day to 2.4 hours per day (38% reduction).

Self-Reported Nonmusculoskeletal Responses to Chiropractic Intervention: A Multination Survey, JMPT, 28:294-203. This study examined 5,607 adults treated by chiropractors to determine what percentage felt that their care had created non-musculoskeletal benefits. Following a series of chiropractic treatments, patients were asked to report if they noticed being "definitely better" with regards to certain non-musculoskeletal conditions (allergies, asthma, breathing, circulation, digestion, hearing, ringing in the ears, sinus problems, urination, vision). Approximately 1 in 4 patients reported improvement ("definitely better") with at least one non-musculoskeletal complaint. The most common areas of improvement where for respiratory disorders (27%), digestive disorders (21%) and circulatory problems (21%).

Chiropractors support and keep up to date with the present research in order that they can come to a better understanding of how to most effectively help patients. Chiropractors are constantly striving to expand their knowledge so they can provide the best care possible.



Chiropractic care has been shown through many studies to be a safe and effective form of therapy. Chiropractic is one of the most thoroughly studied therapies for treatment of the spine. There have been approximately 50 randomized controlled trials studying chiropractic treatment of low back pain alone. This webpage highlights some of the studies published in renowned journals of physical medicine.


• Non-Musculoskeletal Responses to Chiropractic Care. The Chiropractic Report. Sept. 2005; Vol 19: No.5, p 1.
• Gregory Plaugher. 1993. Textbook of Clinical Chiropractic, A Specific Biomechanical Approach. Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins.
• Carey CS, et al. Acute Severe Low Back Pain, Spine, 21, 1996
• Harris Poll
• The Chiropractic Manual, 2nd Edition, 1990
• Guidelines for Chiropractic Quality Assurance and Practice Parameters, 1993