More than three-quarters of Americans have neck pain at some point in their lives, but there’s been little research on what treatments are the most helpful.
Now a new study has a surprising answer: Chiropractic care or simple neck exercises done daily at home were much better at reducing pain than taking pain medications like aspirin, ibuprofen or even strong narcotics.
And the relief provided by either exercise or spinal manipulation by a chiropractor was long-lasting — even up to a year later, when researchers checked back in with the study’s participants.
“Even a year later, there were differences between the spinal manipulation and medication groups,” study co-author Gert Bronfort, a research professor at Northwestern Health Sciences University in Minnesota, told the New York Times. (snip)
Both non-medication groups reported substantially more pain relief than the medication group. After 12 weeks, about 57 percent of the chiropractic group and 48 percent of the exercise group reported at least a 75 percent reduction in pain, compared to just 33 percent of the people in the medication group.
A year later, more than half of the subjects who had received spinal manipulation or exercise still reported at least 75 percent less pain, compared to just a 38 percent reduction in pain among those who had taken medication.
The fact that both chiropractic and exercise produced similar pain relief results was a “big surprise,” Bronfort told the Times. “We hadn’t expected that they would be that close.” He called it “good news for patients.”
The one worrisome part: The study revealed that those who only took medication not only got less pain relief, they kept taking higher amounts more frequently throughout the follow-up period, up to a year later — a development that can have troublesome side effects, like gastrointestinal problems, Bronfort said.
He urged patients to take a more active role in their care — such as doing the exercises or visiting a chiropractor — instead of just swallowing a pill. (read more and learn more about neck pain)
Unless otherwise attributed, all content is written by Kyle Johnson, DC, of Johnson Family Chiropractic of Peoria.
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If you have any questions regarding your condition, you should seek the help of Dr. Johnson in person, so that he may properly assess your condition.
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