Research shows that patients with back pain are seeking out
“complimentary” or “alternative” medical providers in record numbers. A
recent study showed that there are more than 200 million visits to
non-physician caregivers each year for back and neck pain alone. In
addition to chiropractic doctors, patients visit acupuncturists,
herbalists, aroma therapists, massage therapists, energy healers, yoga
masters, and others. Another study shows that many patients simultaneously
obtain care from both traditional and non-traditional sources.
As yet, there is no research documenting the efficiency of alternative
care in general. Chiropractic has been shown to help acute back pain and
may benefit some with chronic back ache. Acupuncture is gaining in
popularity. Acupuncture may be helpful for neck and back pain which do not
respond to other treatments. Acupuncture treatments are not painful. Most
patients describe it as “relaxing.” Massage therapy helps most acute and
some chronic muscle spasm. There are no herbal treatments that are
currently recommended for acute or chronic back pain. Other alternative
treatments are available but remain very controversial.
Common sense says that it would be reasonable to try alternative
treatments, before considering invasive surgery. This does not apply to
emergency problems like bleeding or broken bones. It does not apply to
conditions where permanent damage might result from a delay in treatment.
Your spine specialist can help you select the therapies most likely to