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how does osteopathy help lower back pain

Investigating the effectiveness of Spinal Manipulation Therapy in the treatment of Lower Back Pain.

Blog written by Clinic Manager Jason Dodd with evidence and support from the British Medical Journal.

Low back pain is one of the most commonly disabling conditions in the UK and results in one of the highest number of lost days in UK the workforce.  There are various recommended treatment methods for lower back pain, as highlighted here in this paper, and back pain in general and a recent article published on the British Medical Journal looked at one of these methods. Please click here for the full article that this blog references.

Spinal Manipulation or High/Low Velocity Thrusts as they are commonly known as, have been shown to reduce levels of back pain.  In some cultures and countries they are the first point of call fr back pain and in some countries it is rarely used because of the beliefs held surrounding it’s effects and safety.  The study here aims to highlight the benefits and outline the risks associated with Spinal Manipulation in order for you to be more informed of what it can actually do for you and your symptoms.

Investigating the effectiveness of Spinal Manipulation Therapy in the treatment of Lower Back Pain. Bodylogics
The infographic here outlines the main findings of the study.  Although it may not be too easy to understand, the highlighted parts of this study will be explained and summarised below.

The study looked at how Spinal Manipulation Therapy (SMT) compared to other treatments.  The first points are summarised here;

With regards to pain – Moderate quality evidence suggested that SMT is not statistically better than recommended interventions at one month and 12 months, although the difference was significant at six months

This here is suggesting that at the 6 month point, SMT will have a better outcome on pain that other recommended treatments for lower back pain.  The 12 month point shows no significant difference but this could be explained by the fact subjects were not advised to undertake specific exercises to help with their progress.

Back specific functional status—Moderate quality evidence suggested that SMT results in a small, statistically better effect than recommended interventions at one month but not statistically better effect at six and 12 month

This refers specifically to actual back functional movements which could include things such as lifting objects, tying shoe laces, etc….  The results show that at 6 and 12 months there had been a noticeable difference in the functional status.

Next set of data looked at the difference between SMT and non-recommended treatments and the results were equally as interesting.

With regards to Pain—High quality evidence suggested that SMT results in a small, statistically significant but not clinically better effect than non-recommended interventions at one month. Moderate quality evidence suggested that SMT results in a statistically significant but not clinically better effect at six months, and low quality evidence that SMT results in a statistically significant but not clinically better effect at 12 months

Back specific functional status—High quality evidence suggested that SMT results in a small to moderate statistically and clinically better effect than non-recommended interventions at one month. Moderate quality evidence suggested that SMT results in a small, statistically significant and clinically better effect at six months, and low quality evidence that SMT results in a small to moderate, statistically significant and clinically better effect at 12 months 

Again, the results show clearly that SMT can have positive effects on the individual when compared to non-recommended treatments.  Non-recommended treatments of lower back pain can include things such as surgery and invasive therapies to the spinal area (keyhole surgery).

To Conclude

In the treatment of chronic low back pain in adults, evidence suggests that spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) results in similar outcomes to recommended therapies for short, intermediate, and long term pain relief as well as improvement in function. In addition, the quality of evidence varied suggesting that SMT does not result in clinically better effects for pain relief but does result in clinically better short term improvement in function compared with non-recommended therapies, or sham, and when included as an adjuvant therapy (treatment following cancer).

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