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Exercise, Manipulation Most Effective for Back Pain

No big surprise to me that a U.K. research team has found the most effective treatment for patients with bad backs: A combination of exercise plus some form of spinal manipulation treatments from a chiropractor, osteopath or physiotherapist.

More than 1,300 patients whose back pain had not improved through the most conservative approach (keeping active and not taking bed rest) participated in the year-long study. Participants filled in questionnaires on their general health, back pain, beliefs and psychological well-being before being randomly assigned to a treatment.

The numbers really stand out here in terms of pain relief:

  • Those assigned to exercise classes alone reported a small benefit at three months but not at one year.
  • Spinal manipulation alone was linked to a small to moderate benefit at three months and a small but average benefit at one year.
  • A combined manipulation and exercise program was credited for a moderate improvement at three months and a smaller average improvement at one year.

BBC News November 20, 2004

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