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J Altern Complement Med. 2008 Jun;14(5):465-73. doi: 10.1089/acm.2007.0796.

A comparison between chiropractic management and pain clinic management for chronic low-back pain in a national health service outpatient clinic.

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Private Practice, Oldham, United Kingdom.



To compare outcomes in perception of pain and disability for a group of patients suffering with chronic low-back pain (CLBP) when managed in a hospital by either a regional pain clinic or a chiropractor.


The study was a pragmatic, randomized, controlled trial.


The trial was performed at a National Health Service (NHS) hospital outpatient clinic (pain clinic) in the United Kingdom.


Patients with CLBP (i.e., symptom duration of >12 weeks) referred to a regional pain clinic (outpatient hospital clinic) were assessed and randomized to either chiropractic or pain-clinic management for a period of 8 weeks. The study was pragmatic, allowing for normal treatment protocols to be used. Treatment was administered in an NHS hospital setting.


The Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ) and Numerical Rating Scale were used to assess changes in perceived disability and pain. Mean values at weeks 0, 2, 4, 6, and 8 were calculated. The mean differences between week 0 and week 8 were compared across the two treatment groups using Student's t-tests. Ninety-five percent (95%) confidence intervals (CIs) for the differences between groups were calculated.


Randomization placed 12 patients in the pain clinic and 18 in the chiropractic group, of which 11 and 16, respectively, completed the trial. At 8 weeks, the mean improvement in RMDQ was 5.5 points greater for the chiropractic group (decrease in disability by 5.9) than for the pain-clinic group (0.36) (95% CI 2.0 points to 9.0 points; p = 0.004). Reduction in mean pain intensity at week 8 was 1.8 points greater for the chiropractic group than for the pain-clinic group (p = 0.023).


This study suggests that chiropractic management administered in an NHS setting may be effective for reducing levels of disability and perceived pain during the period of treatment for a subpopulation of patients with CLBP.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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