Although both medication and chiropractic are utilized by neck pain sufferers, not everyone wants to or can take certain medications due to unwanted side effects. For those who aren’t sure what to do, wouldn’t it be nice if research was available that could answer the question posted above? Let’s take a look!
When people have neck pain, they have options as to where they can go for care. Many seek treatment from their primary care physician (PCP). The PCP’s approach to neck pain management usually results in a prescription that may include an anti-inflammatory drug (like ibuprofen or Naproxen), a muscle relaxant (like Flexeril / cyclobenzaprine), and/or a pain pill (like hydrocodone / Vicodin). The choice of which medication a PCP recommends hinges on the patient’s presentation, patient preference (driven from advertisements or prior experiences), and/or the PCP’s own preference.
Although it’s becoming increasingly common to have a PCP refer a neck pain patient for chiropractic care, this still does not happen for all neck pain patients in spite of strong research supporting the significant benefits of spinal manipulation to treat neck pain. One such study compared spinal manipulation, acupuncture, and anti-inflammatory medication with the objective of assessing the long-term benefits (at one year) of these three approaches in patients with chronic (>13 weeks) neck pain. The study randomly divided 115 patients into one of three groups that were all treated for nine weeks. Comparison at the one-year point showed that ONLY those who received spinal manipulation had maintained long-term benefits based on a review of seven main outcome measures. The study concludes that for patients with chronic neck pain, spinal manipulation was the ONLY treatment that maintained a significant long-term (one-year) benefit after nine weeks of treatment!
In a 2012 study published in medical journal The Annals of Internal Medicine, 272 acute or sub-acute neck pain patients received one of three treatment approaches: medication, exercise with advice from a health care practitioner, or chiropractic care. Participants were treated for twelve weeks, with outcomes assessed at 2, 4, 8, 12, 26, and 52 weeks. The patients in the chiropractic care and exercise groups significantly outperformed the medication group at the 26-week point AND had more than DOUBLE the likelihood of complete neck pain relief. However, at the one-year point, ONLY the chiropractic group continued to demonstrate long-term benefits! The significant benefits achieved from both exercise and chiropractic treatments when compared with medication make sense as both address the cause of neck pain as opposed to only masking the symptoms.
With results of these studies showing acute, subacute, as well as chronic neck pain responding BEST to chiropractic care, it only makes sense to TRY THIS FIRST!