If you want to start an argument, ask a bunch of people what works best for lower back pain. Just about everyone will have an opinion (since just about everyone has had back pain at one time or another). Some will swear by chiropractic care, others by acupuncture, cognitive behavioral therapy, drugs, exercise, massage, or yoga. Many will just swear, saying nothing helps. The truth is, they’re probably all at least partially right.
That’s one implication of a study released this week by the Cochrane Collaboration. It focused on chiropractic care, or spinal manipulation, looking at 26 prior trials of about 6,070 people. Researchers concluded that the treatment worked, modestly, for some people, but overall was “no better or worse than other existing therapies.” That could include doing nothing, since research suggests that most back pain clears up on its own in a few weeks.
Other research suggests that people tend to do best when they choose a therapy they believe in, possibly because they’re more likely to adhere to it, or possibly just because of the power of positive thinking.
—Joel Keehn, senior editor