WANTED – Safe, Nonpharmacological Means Of Treating Spinal Pain

Today we’re going to talk about treating spinal pain, thoracic manipulation, lumbar manipulation, guidelines from Canada, and perceptions of our profession. Did you know that many people actually think that Chiropractic herniate low back discs all of the time? That’s not our idea of treating spinal pain. That’s for sure!

But first, here’s that bumper music

OK, we are back. Welcome to the podcast today, I’m Dr. Jeff Williams and I’m your host for the Chiropractic Forward podcast and I am honored to have you join me today.  Thank you to those of you that send emails and like and share our content on Facebook and Twitter. You make it fun. If you haven’t already noticed, we have “Tweetable” quotes from our show notes. All you have to do is click the Tweet button and you’re all set. 

Now, here we go with some vital information that we think can build confidence and improve your practice which will improve your life overall. That’s a tall order but that is the goal

You have cavorted your way into Episode #27. Yes, it’s a word. In fact, it’s a synonym of the word dance. Oh how I do love a thesaurus. 

As I’m about to record this episode, it is June 4, 2018 and I am getting ready to head down to the Texas Chiropractic Association’s State Convention. Now, things like that used to make my eyes gloss over but, I wasn’t doing it right or looking at it through the right lens. 

I was a traveling musician for several years and, honestly, chiropractic for me at the time was Plan B while I made a run at music. Well, as usually happens with musicians, it didn’t make me rich. Shock, shock…

During those years, I was a little bit like a guy out on an island all by himself. A lone wolf you might say. I didn’t know anything about research, guidelines, or anything like that. Hell, I was lucky to get to work on time back then. 

Along with being on an island all alone, I thought the idea of being a member of my state association sounded like one to the biggest, best ways to waste my money. Money that I really needed at the time. Well, I was misinformed. Becoming a member of the Texas Chiropractic Association has been one of the best, most rewarding things I have done in my professional life. 

First, I met a ton of people through the TCA. I have a network of colleagues and friends now. If I have a question about ANYTHING, I have an answer! In fact, I was having a hard time with collections for some time and a colleague is the one that came to my rescue. 

Also, the TCA doesn’t just take my money, they take it and use it to help me in my daily life. They have fought some outstanding odds and won several times. They won where, if they had lost, I wouldn’t have the right to diagnose my patients and would be much like a physical therapist depending on referrals from MDs. I’d say that alone is worth my $48 a month wouldn’t you agree?

I went on to serve several years on the Board of Directors for the TCA and am the current chairperson for the Chiropractic Development Initiative fighting to pay for lawsuits, fighting to bolster our profession, and protect it. 

The point here is, I hope you’ll seriously consider joining your state association as well as the American Chiropractic Association. My dues for both combined each month run around $155. It’s just another bill you pay and it goes to securing your job. It’s worth it and I hope you’ll think about doing it. Chiropractic Forward is not just an idea. I walk the walk by being a member and being active. 

Sometimes I end up deviating from research and all that good stuff we do every week but, sometimes, you gotta share what’s on you mind. Thank you for indulging me. 

Let’s get started with the research talk this week with a paper called “Rehabilitative principles in the management of thoracolumbar syndrome: a case report,” by Mathew DiMond who is a DC, DACRB around Bridgeport Connecticut(DiMond M 2017). For those that don’t know what a DACRB is, it stands for Diplomate of the American Chiropractic Rehabilitation Board. To put that into perspective, there are roughly 5,200 chiropractors in Texas and only 5 DACRBs. 

Why They Did It

Dr. DiMond wanted to describe his management of a case where the patient suffered from thoracolumbar syndrome. 

How They Did It

  • The patient was a 33 year old woman. 
  • She had suffered back pain for 3 weeks
  • Nerve tension tests and local tenderness were present
  • Outcome Assessment tools used were the Oswestry Disability Index which was at 62% at baseline, the STarT low back screen tool (6 points total with 2 point subscale), the Numeric Pain Rating Scale (6/10), and the test-retest exercise audits. 
  • 3 treatments rendered to the patient

What They Found

Her scores were substantially improved. Oswestry improved to 8% , STarT (1 point total), Numeric rating scale 1/10.

Wrap It Up

The author concluded by saying, “The patient responded positively to chiropractic care. After a short course of care, the patient reported reduced pain, alleviated symptoms, and improved physical function.” Now that’s treating spinal pain in a nonpharmacological way.

Now onto the next one. We don’t sit still around here. Bam, bam, bam!

This one is titled “Chiropractic spinal manipulation and the risk for acute lumbar disc herniation: a belief elicitation study” by Cesar Hincapie, et. al. and published in the European Spine Journal(Hincapie C 2017). 

Why They Did it

We know low back pain is the number one reason for disability in the world and that chiropractic is moving into the forefront. The author noted that chiropractic has been reported to increase the risk for lumbar disc herniation without any high quality evidence to support the claim. The author wanted to determine the beliefs on this topic going forward.

I have to say all one needs to do is look toward the American College of Physicians new recommendations and The Lancet low back series recommendations for using chiropractic as a first line treatment for low back pain and that should tell you all you need to know on this but, we will go ahead and explore this simply to expand our learning and knowledge. We are the profession best poised for treating spinal pain!

How They Did It

They used a belief elicitation design

They used 47 clinicians made up of 16 chiropractors, 15 family physicians, and 16 spinal surgeons. 

The clinicians estimated how often a chiropractic adjustment could cause a lumbar disc herniation in a hypothetical group of patients with acute low back pain. 

What They Found

  • As one would expect, chiropractors were the most optimistic that the occurrence was rare. In fact chiropractors held the belief that spinal manipulation actually decreases the chance of disc herniation rather than increases it.
  • Family physicians were mostly neutral
  • Spinal surgeons expressed a slightly more pessimistic belief toward the idea

Wrap It Up

The researchers concluded, “Clinicians’ beliefs about the risk for acute LDH associated with chiropractic SMT varied systematically across professions, in spite of a lack of scientific evidence to inform these beliefs.”

My bias is obvious but, the thought of chiropractors going around herniating discs had to have come from someone that either hates chiropractors like the American Medical Association of the 60;s, 70’s, 80’s, and so on…..or it had to come from ignorance. I believe that paper was published just prior to the new updated recommendations putting chiropractic in the driver’s seat for acute and chronic low back pain but geez…. I do get tired of defending the profession. 

Now let’s wrap up the week here with a paper from our chiropractic brethren for the frozen North otherwise known as Canada. The lead author is Dr. Andre Bussieres and the paper is called “Spinal Manipulative Therapy and Other Conservative Treatments for Low Back Pain: A Guideline From the Canadian Chiropractic Guideline Initiative” and was published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics in May of 2018(Bussieres A 2018). 

Why They Did It

The objective of this study was to develop a clinical practice guideline on the management and treating spinal pain of acute and chronic low back pain (LBP) in adults. The aim was to develop a guideline to provide best practice recommendations on the initial assessment and monitoring of people with low back pain and address the use of spinal manipulation therapy (SMT) compared with other commonly used conservative treatments.

How They Did It

  • The authors assessed systematic reviews and randomized controlled trials using A Measurement Tool to Assess Systematic Reviews and Cochrane Back Review Group criteria. 
  • Evidence profiles were used to summarize judgements of the evidence quality. 
  • The Evidence to Decision Framework was used to help the panel to determine the certainty of evidence and strength of the recommendations. 
  • Consensus was achieved through the modified Delphi technique
  • This guideline was peer reviewed by an 8-member multidisciplinary external committee. 

What They Found

  • Acute back pain (0-3 months)

Offer advice on posture and staying active, reassure the patients, education and self-management strategies, chiropractic care, usual medical treatment if deemed beneficial, or a combination of chiropractic care and usual medical treatment. These are effective means of treating spinal pain. 

  • Chronic back pain (3 months and beyond)

When treating spinal pain, offer advice and education chiropractic care or chiropractic care in conjunction with exercise, myofascial, or usual medical care. 

  • Chronic back-related leg pain

Offer advice and education with chiropractic care and home exercise such as positioning and stabilization exercises. Treating spinal pain for chronic patients can be challenging for both the patient and the doctor.

Wrap It Up

The authors concluded by saying, “A multimodal approach including SMT, other commonly used active interventions, self-management advice, and exercise is an effective treatment strategy for acute and chronic back pain, with or without leg pain.” Treating spinal pain is just what we do.

Help us spread the news folks. Go out and get on your roof and start yelling it to the masses. Retweet, like and share and all of the stuff you can help with on your end of it. You can find us on Twitter @chiro_forward and on Facebook. We’re there. We’re just waiting on you to join us so go do that right now

I realize this week was a little here and a little there but the point is that no matter what you’ve heard or been told in the past, those days are over. I believe they’re over for good at this point. We are the #1, non-pharma, safe, conservative, non-invasive, research-backed, evidence-backed, treatment for spinal pain, hands down. And that’s a heck of a place to be coming from wouldn’t you agree?

I want you to know with absolute certainty that When Chiropractic is at its best, you cannot beat the risk vs reward ratio. Plain and simple. Spinal pain is a mechanical pain and responds better to mechanical treatment rather than chemical treatment such as pain killers, muscle relaxants, and anti-inflammatories.

When you look at the body of literature, it is clear: research and clinical experience shows that, in about 80%-90% of headaches, neck, and back pain, compared to the traditional medical model, patients get good to excellent results with Chiropractic. It’s safe, more cost-effective, decreases chances of surgery, and reduces chances of becoming disabled. We do this conservatively and non-surgically with minimal time requirements and hassle on the part of the patient. And, if the patient develops a “preventative” mindset going forward, we can likely keep it that way while raising the general, overall level of health! And patients have the right to the best treatment that does the least harm. THAT’S Chiropractic folks.

Please feel free to send us an email at dr dot williams at chiropracticforward.com and let us know what you think or what suggestions you may have for us for future episodes. Feedback and constructive criticism is a blessing and we want to hear from you on a range of topics so bring it on folks!

If you love what you hear, be sure to check out www.chiropracticforward.com. We want to ask you to share us with you network and help us build this podcast into the #1 Chiropractic evidence-based podcast in the world. 

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

CF 011: With Dr. Tyce Hergert: It’s Here. New Guides For Low Back Pain That Medical Doctors Are Ignoring

CF 016: Review of The Lancet Article on Low Back Pain (Pt. 1)

CF 013: DEBUNKED: The Odd Myth That Chiropractors Cause Strokes (Part 1 of 3)


Social Media Links



Bussieres A, e. a. (2018). “Spinal Manipulative Therapy and Other Conservative Treatments for Low Back Pain: A Guideline From the Canadian Chiropractic Guideline Initiative.” Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 41(4): 265-293.

DiMond M (2017). “Rehabilitative Principles in the Management of Thoracolumbar Syndrome: A Case Report.” Journal of Chiropractic Medicine 16(4): 331-339.

Hincapie C (2017). “Chiropractic spinal manipulation and the risk for acute lumbar disc herniation: a belief elicitation study.” European Spine Journal.

One comment on “CF 027: WANTED – Safe, Nonpharmacological Means Of Treating Spinal Pain

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