Moderate and acute neck pain is one of the most common reasons why people visit their family medical doctor.  In many cases, pain and stiffness occur without any obvious cause, and treatment at a medical facility may involve the use of NSAID’s, or even narcotics.  A new study from The Annals of Internal Medicine revealed something that doctors of chiropractic have experienced in their practices for many decades.  In one of the few head-to-head comparisons of the various treatments for neck pain, chiropractic care has provided more effective and longer lasting relief than relying on pain medication.  Chiropractic also provided the benefit of no harmful side effects or requirement for ongoing increases in dosage observed with participants of the study.
The study involved a large group of adults with neck pain that had no known specific cause.  The 272 subjects were recruited from a large HMO and through advertisements.  The researchers split them into groups and followed them for over 3 months.  A group was assigned to visit a chiropractor and members of this group averaged seeing this doctor for 15 visits.  Another group was assigned to take common pain relievers like aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen and in some cases at the discretion of the doctor, narcotics and muscle relaxers.  After 12 weeks, the people in the chiropractic group had significantly better changes compared to the medicated group.  In fact, 57 percent of those who received chiropractic care reported at least a 75 percent reduction in their pain, compared to only 33 percent in the medication group.
“These changes diminished over time, but they were still present,” said Dr. Gert Bronfort, one of the authors of the study.  “Even a year later, there were differences between the spinal manipulation (chiropractic) and medication groups.”  The comparisons after a year were that 53 percent of those in the chiropractic group still were experiencing at least a 75 percent reduction in pain, vs. those in the medication group having a 38 percent reduction in pain.
In addition to their limited pain relief, another down side for those in the medication group was that people kept on taking them.  ” The people in the medication group kept on using a higher amount of medication more frequently throughout the follow up period, up to a year later.”  Dr. Bronfort said.  “If you are taking medication over a long period of time, then you are running into more systemic side effects like gastrointestinal problems.”
The take away from this study is simple;  chiropractic care offers superior results in the resolution of the common causes of neck pain.