Seeing a Chiropractor vs. Taking Medication for Lower Back Pain in Los Angeles, CA

If you’re like most of the 30 million or so Americans with chronic lower back pain, medication may be your go-to source for relief. However, it may not be the best remedy for your pain. A new study published in the journal Spine suggests manual manipulations such as those associated with chiropractic care may provide better results, at least when it comes to one commonly prescribed anti-inflammatory drug called diclofenac. It doesn’t mean medications, especially NSAIDs, can’t be beneficial, just that you may also want to consider a visit to a chiropractor as part of your pain management efforts.

How Is the Pain Affecting Your Quality of Life?

When it comes to pain relief, the deciding factor for most people is how their quality of life is enhanced from treatment attempts. Medication of any form, including NSAIDs, muscle relaxants, and narcotic drugs, tends to be more effective when used for a shorter time. Chiropractic care has gained greater acceptance over the years as an effective form of manual manipulation that sometimes reduces dependence on medication.

The study separated participants into three groups, with some taking only diclofenac, and others either having manipulations or placebo treatments. Based on a self-assessment of pain and daily functioning, subjects in the chiropractic group reported lower levels of pain and significantly higher quality of life scores than the group taking the medication. Ultimately, what’s best for you will determine whether or not your preferred treatment:

  • Allows you to miss fewer days of work
  • Reduces your reliance on rescue medication during pain flare-ups
  • Enhances overall functioning

Are You Willing to Put More Time into Your Treatments?

People with lower back pain often prefer medication because it’s less time-consuming than going to chiropractic sessions or practicing specific movements or exercises between sessions. However, putting the time and effort into actively participating in sessions may provide more noticeable and sustained relief than what’s normally seen with medications that tend to wear off or have potential risks with long-term use. Manual manipulation may be in the form of:

  • High-velocity low-amplitude thrusts – This type of manipulation usually produces a “popping” sound as firm pressure is applied to joints.
  • Gentle (low-force) manipulations – Not all chiropractic manipulations are meant to be forceful. Manipulations of this nature usually involve mild mobilization or gentle muscle stimulation without twisting or turning the body.
  • Non-surgical decompression – Manipulation applied this way involves the use of a special table that keeps the upper half of the patient steady as negative pressure is created with gentle stretches.

Before considering chiropractic manipulations, check with your doctor or a Santa Monica spine surgeon. Effective pain management often involves a combination of treatments, including medications, so it doesn’t have to be one or the other. Also, realize chiropractors make an attempt to diagnose the true source of lower back pain, which can be notoriously difficult to pinpoint. They also tend to use other techniques that don’t involve medication, including electric stimulation and heat and ice applications.

In certain cases, minimally invasive surgery may be the solution for alleviating chronic pain. At The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration, we specialize in a wide array of procedures, including spinal cord stimulation and cervical disc replacement surgery. Santa Monica patients can rely on the expert surgeons at The Spine Institute to find an effective solution for relieving lower back pain. Give us a call today at 310-828-7757 to schedule an appointment.