A MishMash Of Research on Chiropractic, On Herniation, Trends, and Ineffectiveness

Integrating Chiropractors

Today we’re going to talk about research on Chiropractic, research on health trends, and research on disc herniation as a result of a visit to your friendly neighborhood chiropractor. Is that real or is that a bunch of hooey? We’ll talk about it so come along. 

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.  

Now that I have you here, I want to ask you to go to chiropracticforward.com and sign up for our newsletter. Nope, I don’t have some big prize for you if you sign up. Not big offers. No magical marketing tactics with which to get your email address. Just what we hope is a podcast full of value to you and your business. 

Being on the newsletter list just makes it easier to let you know when the newest episode goes live and, maybe in the future we’ll have some cool stuff to offer those on our email list. Also, when someone new signs up it makes my heart leap and wouldn’t you like to be the one responsible for making someone’s heart leap today? 


We have a lot of great guests lined up to come on the show! Next week I believe we are going to have Dr. Anthony Palumbo from Staten Island, New York. Dr. Palumbo is very active in the New York State Chiropractic Association and practices in a multidisciplinary practice. We’re going to have a good time picking his brain. 

The week after that, I believe we have Dr. Brandon Steele from ChiroUp and from the DACO program joining us. He’s an excellent resource for what is going on in our profession and where we see things heading in the future for chiropractic. I’m really looking forward to that one. 

We have the green light from Dr. Jerry Kennedy of the Black Sheep DC marketing program to come on the show. We just need to get that date lined up. We have Dr. Tim Bertlesman from the DACO program and also the President of the Illinois Chiropractic Association lined up down the road. 

Good stuff on the way so make sure you’re staying tuned into our little corner here in Podcast land. We’re bringing you the best in research on Chiropractic.

We are honored to have you listening. Now, here we go with some vital information that we think can build confidence and improve your practice which will improve your life overall.

You have fainted very dramatically into Episode #36 and we’re so glad you did. 

How’s your week been so far? I shared on the last podcast how we have had a rough 2018 but things have leveled off and we up and running. It feels a little like a sprint these days to tell you the truth. Lol. And thank the good Lord for it. 

Speaking of thanking the Good Lord, my 16-year-old son has been raised in the church. Not every single Sunday. I like to sleep sometimes ya know. But, often enough to say he’s been a church-goer as has my 11-year-old daughter. We’ve not pushed anything on him but he has taken it upon himself to an extent to further the church part of his life. 

He’s gone to a church camp in New Mexico the last two summers and this year he returned ready to get baptized. So he did. Last Sunday he went to church and took a bath and we couldn’t be more proud of that little dude. He’s actually not so little anymore but, we worry about our kids don’t we?

We worry about if we’re raising them right. Am I raising him to be a good man? Am I raising him to work hard and be dependable? Will they be ready for the world? Have I somehow enabled him to be weak? Am I raising him to feel entitled instead of working his butt off for things in his life

I think parents have all of these worries. I might argue that if you’re not asking yourself at least some of these questions, you might give them a deeper look. I’m not a parenting expert. That’s just my opinion. 

Anyway, my point is, we got this aspect of his life right so far. We sure love that kiddo and we love the direction we see him headed. Kids can be a game-changer for sure. From conception throughout their entire lives, they consume our mind space without even realizing it. And that’s OK. We wouldn’t have any other way most to the time. 

With school back in session now, what are some of the ways that you keep your practice from slowing down? Back to school is historically a slow time for us and we’re never quite sure how to keep that from happening. Email me at [email protected] and tell me how you do it. I’ll be glad to share on next week’s podcast if you don’t mind. 

This week, I just want to throw some seemingly random papers having to do with research on Chiropractic at you and we’ll start with one called “Effectiveness of classic physical therapy proposals for non-specific low back pain: a literature review.” It was written by F Cuenca-Martinez[1], et.al. and published in Physical Therapy  Research in March of 2018. This is a group of physical therapists writing this paper just so you are in the know. 

Why They Did It

The authors were hoping to evaluate the effectiveness of classical physiotherapy in the management of non-specific chronic low back pain. 

How They Did It

  • They did a literature search in English electronic databases from November- December in 2015 for only randomized controlled trials
  • They only accepted the studies addressing chronic non-specific low back pain treated by manual therapy and different types of exercise methods. 

What They Found

Back School exercises and McKenzie’s method were both ineffective

Spinal manipulation proved effective when performed on the lower back and on the thoracic region but only immediately after it was received and not in the medium or in the long term. 

Massage proved effective for short-term relief

Wrap It Up

The authors’ conclusion was “Based on the data obtained, classical physiotherapy proposals show ineffectiveness in the treatment of chronic non-specific low back pain. More multidimensional studies are needed in order to achieve a better treatment of this condition, including the biopsychosocial paradigm.”

What do we get from this? First thought is, the papers they cite are, at this point, old and considering the papers we have been covering, are really pretty irrelevant to an extent. I mean, any good information will always be good information but only until better information becomes available. The most recent paper cited for the spinal manipulation portion of this project is over 5 years old. So….what the hell?

Second….it’s a bit discombobulated when you read through the abstract. I’m either bad at following along (which is highly likely) or it’s just worded so oddly. I dove into the full paper to try to make heads or tails of what they have going on here. It sounds like physical therapists are just trying to be cheeky monkeys and throwing poo at spinal manipulation and we’re not having it. Mostly because they’re wrong and because we are better and more cost-effective at treating low back pain than they are. Period over and out. 

The authors, in regards to spinal manipulation, refer to three studies. One by Oliveira, et. al[2]., one by Bronfort et. al[3]. and one by Senna and Machaly[4]. The Bronfort study was done on 300 patients and they found basically no difference between those that had physical therapy vs. chiropractic vs. home exercises. They all ended up the same. But, they didn’t cite the work we covered previously showing that chiropractic combined with exercise is more effective that physical therapy. 

Or the paper from Episode 26 by Korthals-de Bos[5] that concluded: “Manual therapy (spinal mobilization) is more effective and less costly for treating neck pain than physiotherapy or care by a general practitioner.”

There was also no mention of the paper by Blanchette et. al. that we covered in Episode #26 that showed that chiropractic patients experience the shortest duration of compensation, and physical therapists’ patients the longest. Blanchette says in that conclusion, “These differences raise concerns regarding the use of physiotherapists as gatekeepers for the worker’s compensation system.” And all the chiropractors said, “Amen, hallelujah brothers and sisters.”

And the Senna paper they cite actually concluded by saying, “SMT is effective for the treatment of chronic nonspecific LBP. To obtain long-term benefit, this study suggests maintenance SM after the initial intensive manipulative therapy.”

I’m done with that paper. 

Let’s move on from these PTs and their poo-throwing. 

Here’s one more specifically geared toward research on Chiropractic called “Chiropractic care and risk for acute lumbar disc herniation: a population-based self-controlled case series study” by Cesar Hincapie, et. al[6].  

Why They Did It

The objective was to investigate the association between chiropractic care and acute lumbar disc herniation with early surgical intervention and contrast this with the association between primary care physician (PCP) care and acute lumbar disc herniation with early surgery

What They Found

Both chiropractic and primary medical care were associated with an increased risk for acute LDH requiring ED visit and early surgery. Our analysis suggests that patients with prodromal back pain from a developing disc herniation likely seek healthcare from both chiropractors and PCPs before full clinical expression of acute LDH. We found no evidence of excess risk for acute LDH with early surgery associated with chiropractic compared with primary medical care.

This Hincapie fella also had a prior paper published not long ago[7] where he discussed and explored the perception among different medical disciplines and among chiropractors as to whether spinal manipulation causes a lumbar disc herniation. It was an interesting paper. We covered it in episode #27 if you’d like to give it a listen. 


Then there’s this research on Chiropractic that came out recently titled “Spine Degenerative Conditions and Their Treatments: National Trends in the United States of America” and published in Global Spine Journal February 2018. It was authored by Buser et. al[8]. 

Why They Did It

The aim of this study was to report the current trends when talking about spine degenerative disorders and their various  treatments.

How They Did It

Patients diagnosed with lumbar or cervical spine conditions within the orthopedic Medicare and Humana databases were included

What They Found

  • Within the Medicare database there were 6 206 578 patients diagnosed with lumbar and 3 156 215 patients diagnosed with cervical degenerative conditions between 2006 and 2012
  • There was an increase of 18.5% in the incidence of fusion among lumbar patients
  • For the Humana data sets there were 1 160 495 patients diagnosed with lumbar and 660 721 patients diagnosed with cervical degenerative disorders from 2008 to 2014
  • There was a 33% (lumbar) and 42% (cervical) increases in the number of diagnosed patients. However, in both lumbar and cervical groups there was a decrease in the number of surgical and nonoperative treatments.

Wrap It Up

The authors wrap it up by saying, “There was an overall increase in both lumbar and cervical conditions, followed by an increase in lumbar fusion procedures within the Medicare database. There is still a burning need to optimize the spine care for the elderly and people in their prime work age to lessen the current national economic burden.”

What do we get from that? I’d say that it’s clear from research on Chiropractic we’ve covered here that neck and back pain is stepping forward for sure. It is being recognized for the problem it really is while treatments available in the medical kingdom continue to show scattered results. Chiropractors are the most uniquely positioned to knock this stuff out of the park. 

Fusion surgeries have gone crazy sky high in the last ten years while the outcomes have remained unchanged. 

Epidural steroid injections have been done at a blistering pace over the last decade with no better outcomes. 

Physical therapists are even starting to question their own effectiveness. Take this article in the journal called Physical Therapy written by Colleen Whiteford et. al[9]. Here is the opening paragraph. Get a load of this:

“We are writing to relay our consternation about the guideline article by Bier et al in the March issue of PTJ. We fully support the increasing emphasis on critical evaluation fo the assessment and intervention models used in physical therapist practice. The long-overdue acknowledgment of research that does not support much of what constitutes the bulk of physical therapist practice is a refreshing and honest introspection that can potentially initiate much-needed change within our profession.”

“Without such change, our profession is destined to continue on our current path of practice that is increasingly shown to be yielding outcomes that are less than desirable. Such exploration inevitably leaves us with gaping holes in practice that can be unsettling. The natural and responsible tendency is to search for alternative measures and interventions to fill this gap.”

I’m going to tell you one of those alternatives they’ll be looking to adopt and are looking to adopt is spinal manipulation. You better listen to me folks. If you’ve listened to our podcast much here then you know they’ve already adopted adjustments and renamed it to translatoric spinal manipulation. 

We can keep monkeying with these chiropractors out on the edge of the ether talking about curing everyone on the planet of everything known to man or we can keep moving in the direction of science and in the direction of evidence. My preference is obvious. 

If you haven’t yet, can you leave us a great review on whatever platform it is that you’re listening to us on? iTunes, Stitcher, or whatever it may be. We sure would appreciate it. 

Integrating Chiropractors

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 a mechanical pain and responds better to mechanical treatment instead of chemical treatments. Research on chiropractic shows this clearly.

The literature is clear: research and experience show that, in 80%-90% of headaches, neck, and back pain, patients get good to excellent results when compared to usual medical care and it’s safe, less expensive, and decreases chances of surgery and disability. It’s done conservatively and non-surgically with little time requirement or hassle for the patient. If done preventatively going forward, we can likely keep it that way while raising overall health! At the end of the day, patients have the right to the best treatment that does the least harm and THAT’S Chiropractic, folks. Again, research on chiropractic shows this clearly.

Send us an email at dr dot williams at chiropracticforward.com and let us know what you think of our show or tell us your suggestions for future episodes. Feedback and constructive criticism is a blessing and so are subscribes and excellent reviews on iTunes and other podcast services. Y’all know how this works by now so help if you don’t mind taking a few seconds to do so.

Being the #1 Chiropractic podcast in the world would be pretty darn cool. We’ll keep bringing you Research on chiropractic in the hopes of reaching that goal!

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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1. Cuenca-Martínez F, Effectiveness of classic physical therapy proposals for chronic non-specific low back pain: a literature review. Phys Ther Res, 2018. 21(1): p. 16-22.

2. Oliveira RF, Immediate effects of region-specific and non-region-specific spinal manipulative therapy in patients with chronic low back pain: a randomized controlled trial. Phys Ther Res, 2013. 93(6): p. 748-56.

3. Bronfort G, Supervised exercise, spinal manipulation, and home exercise for chronic low back pain: a randomized clinical trial. Spine, 2011. 11(7): p. 585-98.

4. Senna MK, Does maintained spinal manipulation therapy for chronic nonspecific low back pain result in better long-term outcome? Spine (Phila Pa 1976), 2011. Aug 15; 36(18): p. 1427-37.

5. Korthals-de Bos IB, Cost effectiveness of physiotherapy, manual therapy, and general practitioner care for neck pain: economic evaluation alongside a randomised controlled trial. British Medical Journal, 2003. 326(7395): p. 911.

6. Hincapie C, Chiropractic care and risk for acute lumbar disc herniation: a population-based self-controlled case series study. European Spine Journal, 2018. 27(7): p. 1526-1537.

7. Hincapie C, Chiropractic spinal manipulation and the risk for acute lumbar disc herniation: a belief elicitation study. European Spine Journal, 2017.

8. Buser Z, Spine Degenerative Conditions and Their Treatments: National Trends in the United States of America. Global Spine J, 2018. 8(1): p. 57-67.

9. Whiteford C, On “Clinical Practice Guideline for Physical Therapy Assessment and Treatment in Patients With Nonspecific Neck Pain,” Bier JD, Scholten-Peeters WGM, Staal JB, et al. Phys Ther. 2018;98:162–171. Physical Therapy, 2018.

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