Tylenol Fails For Back Pain, Cervical Disc Research, & CAM For Headache/Migraine

CF 128: Tylenol Fails For Back Pain, Cervical Disc Research, & CAM For Headache/Migraine Today we’re going to talk about Tylenol Fails For Back Pain, Cervical Disc Research, & complementary and alternative medicine For Headache/Migraine But first, here’s that sweet sweet bumper music  

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  OK, we are back and you have found the Chiropractic Forward Podcast where we are making evidence-based chiropractic fun, profitable, and accessible while we make you and your patients better all the way around.  We’re the fun kind of research. Not the stuffy, high-brow kind of research. We’re research talk over a couple of beers. I’m Dr. Jeff Williams and I’m your host for the Chiropractic Forward podcast.   If you haven’t yet I have a few things you should do. 

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Do it do it do it. 

You have found yourself smack dab in the middle of Episode #128 Now if you missed last week’s episode, we were joined on the show by Dr. William Morgan. You wanna hear a truly impressive individual speak and share, this is one of those episodes, my friends. I wouldn’t steer you the wrong way. Go to last week’s episode and give it a listen. We talked about all kinds of good stuff, we talked about excellence, we talked about Parker, we talked about chiropractic in general and Dr. Morgan shared some experiences with us about treating the President of the United States of America. Wow. Make sure you don’t miss that info. Keep up with the class. 

While we’re on the topic of being smart, did you know that you can use our website as a resource? Quick and easy, you can go to chiropracticforward.com, click on Episodes, and use the search function to find whatever you want quickly and easily. With over 100 episodes in the tank and an average of 2-3 papers covered per episode, we have somewhere between 250 and 300 papers that can be quickly referenced along with their talking points.  Just so you know, all of the research we talk about in each episode is cited in the show notes for each episode if you’re looking to dive in a little deeper. 


On the personal end of things….. I don’t know how long I’ve been back full force now but it’s been some time. As with anything, you start to adopt new procedures and then those new things become a habit and hardly even noticeable anymore.  I see chiros asking what others are wearing. Some don’t take COVID seriously so they don’t wear anything, to be honest. They just wash hands as if washing your hands takes it out of the air or prevents the coughing from putting it out there for you to breathe.  I wear a mask. I wear glasses so I just wear them for any eye cover. Who knows if that even matters? It probably doesn’t.  I wear gloves. Not because I’m afraid to touch anyone. I started out without gloves but the sanitizer and soap washing all of the time ate my hands up. Bad. So, gloves have solved that problem for me.

Maybe I just need some new soap and I can go back to no gloves.  Now after some unfortunate interactions on Facebook I’m stepping up onto my soapbox for a good old fashioned rant and, when I’m done, I hope we can still be friends.    The more interactions with people I have, even a select few supposedly educated chiropractors, the more I’m aware of how uneducated people can truly be. 

How can you confuse the mask issue? Yes, in the beginning, they said masks weren’t useful. Back when they were trying to prevent a run on N95 masks so the hospitals could have them available.  But for months now, they have recommended them for everyone when social distancing cannot be avoided. AKA; a chiropractor’s office.  Their latest update reiterates it. The best guess estimates are that 40% of COVID cases were due to a ‘healthy’ asymptomatic spreading it.  They also just said last week that up to 35% of positives were in completely asymptomatic cases. That’s excellent news!! That means that a little over 1/3 of people that get it do extremely well and never even know they have it. That’s amazing.  The problem is that that 1/3 is responsible for 40% of the cases because they don’t know they have it and are spreading it. 

How can we be so sure that masks are effective? There are three papers that were done. One in a bus, one in South Korea, and one in Washington State that suggest masks are EXTREMELY effective in stopping COVID in its tracks.  Let’s start with the choir practice(Hammer L 2020)  (https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6919e6.htm?fbclid=IwAR2iRGtCRNMPhYoxCtQnP1jGYobAhunSqWMH4DSpuga5oKaOHa4VbAH7pNc) 

Following a 2.5 hour choir practice attended by 61 persons, including a symptomatic, 32 confirmed and 20 probably secondary COVID cases occurred. If you’re counting, that’s 52 of the 61 members of the choir.  3 patients were hospitalized and 2 died. The transmission was likely facilitated by close proximity during practice and augmented by the act of singing.  Alright, now, let’s talk about the bus.  In short, scientists in China studied a guy in China who passed it on to 13 others.

On the bus, his germs jumped as far as 4.5 meters to other travelers and it lingered in the air for up to 30 minutes after the guy got off of the bus. 4.5 meters for us Americanos is almost 15 feet.  Now, let’s talk about a new paper that came out on May 13 so it’s recent news.

This paper was in the journal called Respiratory Medicine by Gao, et. al.(Gao M 2020) called ‘A study on infectivity of asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 carriers’.  This paper follows a case of an asymptomatic spreader and 455 contact encounters to try to assess the infectivity of asymptomatic carriers.  The 455 contacts wore masks, the test subject wore masks. and nobody got sick. They didn’t give COVID to any of the 455. And all wore masks. This included family members.  Medical Express posted an article on May 17th about some research out of Hong Kong where they tested a masking mechanism with hamsters. https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-05-hamster-masks-coronavirus-scientists.html

The research by the University of Hong Kong is some of the first to specifically investigate whether masks can stop symptomatic and asymptomatic COVID-19 carriers from infecting others. They placed hamsters that were artificially infected with the disease next to healthy animals. Surgical masks were placed between the two cages with airflow traveling from the infected animals to the healthy ones. The researchers found non-contact transmission of the virus could be reduced by more than 75 percent when the masks were used. Two-thirds of the healthy hamsters were infected within a week if no masks were applied. Not only that but, those that did become infected were also found to have less of the virus within their bodies than those infected without a mask. The most effective use of the masks was when the person wearing the mask was the infected one.  

The problem with that is that nobody knows who is infected because up to 35% of people infected don’t have any symptoms or feel sick.  So, you can pass it up to 15 feet away, you can be in close proximity to 61 others and give it to 52 of them, or we can all wear masks and mostly avoid giving it to anybody. Hmmm. Let me do the math, carry the three….and….yep, I’ll wear masks for a little while.

A mask is a small ask, people. That’s the new slogan. Just give me credit. That’s all I ask.  If you don’t require masks in your office as the CDC recommends right now, you’re putting yourself, your staff, and your immunocompromised patients at risk.  You can wash your hands until the skin falls off and think you’re protecting everyone and doing a good job but you’re not taking it out of the air.

The Czechoslovakian government got it right in their slogan, “My mask protects you and yours protects me.”

No, it’s not the damn flu. While the CDC’s latest updates have a lot of good news in it, it’s still clear it’s not the damn flu. If you claim it is, you are simply not very educated on it and you’re probably doing your patients a disservice by saying that it is.  COVID is estimated to have a .4 mortality rate. Flu is estimated at .1 so COVID is FOUR TIMES as deadly. We see that day to day because, in a BAD flu year, between 60k to 80k people die of it. IN A YEAR. 

COVID has killed over 100,000 Americans in just about 3 months or so. It’s not the same as the damn flu.  But, 0.4% is waaaayyy better than it was initially thought. Some other current news from Reuters out of Italy is that it is losing its potency. Meaning, it may have mutated to a less deadly version. That’s awesome news. 

In the beginning, I was worried and stressed and anxious. We all were. It was brand new and nobody knew anything about it. Not even the experts. Hell, when AIDS was brand new, the fear was that mosquitos could infect you. Then we learned more and then we were safer.  As more and more is known about this virus, I’m no longer as worried for myself or my family or even most of my patients. The newest CDC guesstimates show that 96.6% of COVID patients never even have to go to the hospital. That’s a pretty great stat right there. 

However, I AM afraid for my mother. I AM afraid for my Dad who is in a nursing home. I AM afraid for my other family member who is immunocompromised. I AM afraid for my patients that are immunocompromised. I AM going to continue to be safe and be smart for those people. Not out of fear but out of an abundance of education and because it’s not the flu. I hope you’re doing the same. 

While there’s a 96.6% chance none of us ever have to go to the hospital because of it, there’s a 100% chance I’d have to close my office for a bit. I don’t know about you but I can’t afford that. This podcasting gig doesn’t pay anything so I guess I need to mind my p’s and q’s and be smart about my day to day bidniz. 

I know several that say but, but, but….what about….but. All that crap is noise. Uneducated, noise tinged with a healthy dose of arrogance. It really is OK to follow science and evidence. We’ve been preaching it for 3 years now. Why would COVID change that?

Let science guide you. Not Bill Gates, Trump, or Pelosi. What does the science say? Stop listening to Fox and CNN. What does the science say? Stop listening to conservative or Liberal talk show hosts. What does the science say? Stop listening to Uncle Roy, the ranch manager or the warehouse worker. What does the science say? As far as that goes, stop listening to the physician on the hospital steps spouting politically biased crap and tying it into a COVID talk. Who the hell cares? What does the damn science say?

Keep it simple. Don’t let things confuse the topic. How severe, how easily spread, how can you avoid spreading or catching? Simple crap here.

The rest of those people are uneducated and arrogant noise. Noise I tuned out over a month ago. 

Alright, rant over. 

Item #1 Our first Item this week is called “Efficacy and safety of Paracetamol for Spinal Pain and Osteoarthritis: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Placebo Controlled Trials” by Machado, et. al(Machado G 2015). and published in British Medical Journal in March of 2015. 

Why They Did It They wanted to investigate the efficacy and safety of paracetamol (acetaminophen) aka Tylenol… in the management of spinal pain and osteoarthritis of the hip or knee.

How They Did It

  • Systematic review and meta-analysis
  • Medline, Embase, AMED, CINAHL, Web of Science, LILACS, International Pharmaceutical Abstracts, and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials from inception to December 2014.
  • Paper considered for inclusion were all randomised controlled trials comparing the efficacy and safety of paracetamol with placebo for spinal pain (neck or low back pain) and osteoarthritis of the hip or knee.
  • 13 randomised trials were included

What They Found

  • There was “high quality” evidence that paracetamol is ineffective for reducing pain intensity and disability or improving quality of life in the short term in people with low back pain. 
  • For hip or knee osteoarthritis there was “high quality” evidence that paracetamol provides a significant, although not clinically important, effect on pain and disability in the short term.
  • “High quality” evidence showed that patients taking paracetamol are nearly four times more likely to have abnormal results on liver function tests

Wrap It Up “Paracetamol is ineffective in the treatment of low back pain and provides minimal short term benefit for people with osteoarthritis. These results support the reconsideration of recommendations to use paracetamol for patients with low back pain and osteoarthritis of the hip or knee in clinical practice guidelines.”

Item #2 This one is called “Relationship of Modic Changes, Disk Herniation Morphology, and Axial Location to Outcomes in Symptomatic Cervical Disk Herniation Patients Treated With High-Velocity, Low-Amplitude Spinal Manipulation: A Prospective Study” by Kressig et. al(Kressig M 2016). and published in Journal of Manipulative Physiology and Therapeutics in October 2016. 

Why They Did It The authors here wanted to evaluate whether cervical disc herniation (CDH) location, morphology, or Modic changes (MCs) are related to treatment outcomes.

How They Did It

  • (MRI) and outcome data from 44 patients with CDH treated with spinal manipulative therapy were evaluated
  • MRI scans were assessed for cervical disc hernation location, morphology, and modic changes
  • Pain and Neck Disability Index data were collected at baseline; 2 weeks; 1, 3, and 6 months; and then again at 1 year

Wrap It Up Although patients who were Modic positive had higher baseline NDI scores, the proportion of these patients improved was higher for all time points up to 6 months. Patients with Modic I changes did worse than patients with Modic II changes at only 2 weeks.

Item #3 Our last one is called, “Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use Among US Adults With Headache or Migraine: Results From the 2012 National Health Interview Survey” by Zhang et. al(Zhang Y 2017). and was published in Headache journal in September of 2017. 

Why They Did It They did this to answer the following questions: (1) Which complementary and alternative (CAM) modalities are used most frequently among migraine/headache sufferers? and (2) What are the self-reported reasons for CAM use among migraine/headache sufferers?

What They Found

The most frequently used CAM modality for headache/migraine was manipulative therapy at only 22%. Herbal supplementation was at 21.7% usage, and mind-body therapy was at 17.9%. The top 3 reasons given for using CAM for headaches were for general wellness, at about 28.7%, improving overall health at about 26.8%, and for reducing stress at about 16.7%. Although CAM is used by many sufferers of headaches and migraines, its use specifically for the headache or migraine is low in the US. 

Alright, that’s it. Y’all be safe. Continue taking care of yourselves and taking care of your neighbors. Tough times are upon us but, the sun will shine again. Trust it, believe it, count on it. Let’s get to the message. Same as it is every week. 

Remember the evidence-informed brochures and posters at chiropracticforward.com. 

Chiropractic evidence-based products

Integrating Chiropractors

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The Message

I want you to know with absolute certainty that when Chiropractic is at its best, you can’t beat the risk vs reward ratio because spinal pain is primarily a movement-related pain and typically responds better to movement-related treatment rather than chemical treatments like pills and shots.

When compared to the traditional medical model, research and clinical experience show us patients can get good to excellent results for headaches, neck pain, back pain, and joint pain to name just a few.

It’s safe and cost-effective can decrease surgeries & disability and we do it through conservative, non-surgical means with minimal hassle to the patient.

And, if the patient treats preventatively after initial recovery, we can usually keep it that way while raising the overall level of health!

Key Point:

At the end of the day, patients should have the guarantee of having the best treatment that offers the least harm. When it comes to non-complicated musculoskeletal complaints….

That’s Chiropractic!


Send us an email at dr dot williams at chiropracticforward.com and let us know what you think of our show and tell us your suggestions for future episodes. 

Feedback and constructive criticism is a blessing and so are subscribes and excellent reviews on podcast platforms. 

We know how this works by now. If you value something, you have to share it, interact with it, review it, talk about it from time to time, and actively hit a few buttons to support it here and there when asked. It really does make a big difference. 


We can’t wait to connect with you again next week. From the Chiropractic Forward Podcast flight deck, this is Dr. Jeff Williams saying upward, onward, and forward.



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About the Author & Host

Dr. Jeff Williams – Chiropractor in Amarillo, TX, Chiropractic Advocate, Author, Entrepreneur, Educator, Businessman, Marketer, and Healthcare Blogger & VloggerBibliography

  • Gao M, Y. L. (2020). “A study on infectivity of asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 carriers.” Resp Med.
  • Hammer L, D. P., Capron I, Ross A, (2020). “High SARS-CoV-2 Attack Rate Following Exposure at a Choir Practice — Skagit County, Washington, March 2020.” CDC Weekly 69(19): 606-610.
  • Kressig M, P. C., McChurch K, Schmid C, (2016). “Relationship of Modic Changes, Disk Herniation Morphology, and Axial Location to Outcomes in Symptomatic Cervical Disk Herniation Patients Treated With High-Velocity, Low-Amplitude Spinal Manipulation: A Prospective Study.” J Manipulative Physiol Ther 39(8): 565-575.
  • Machado G, M. C., Ferreira P, Pinheiro M, (2015). “Efficacy and safety of Paracetamol for Spinal Pain and Osteoarthritis: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Placebo Controlled Trials.” BMJ 350(h1225).
  • Zhang Y (2017). “Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use Among US Adults With Headache or Migraine: Results From the 2012 National Health Interview Survey.” Headache 57(8): 1228-1242.