Chiropractic an effective care option for back-related leg pain

Michele Maiers, DC, MPH | September 22, 2014

Northwestern's latest clinical trial published in Annals of Internal Medicine

chiropractic adjustment

Results of a clinical trial conducted by researchers at Northwestern Health Sciences University found that study participants suffering from back-related leg pain experienced greater pain relief after 12 weeks of chiropractic care combined with home exercises and advice, than participants who received home exercises and advice alone. They also reported less disability, greater global improvement, higher satisfaction, less medication use, and improved general health status. One year later, those same participants continued to report greater global improvement, less medication use, and higher satisfaction. Long term, both groups reported similar levels of pain.

"Studies such as these take the dedicated efforts of many talented people. All members of the clinical research team at Northwestern were critical in the successful conduct of the study. Our clinicians, therapists, staff and research faculty did a great job in doing everything they could to enhance study quality while at the same time ensuring that study participants got great care,” said the study principal investigator and former vice president of research, Dr. Gert Bronfort.

The study enrolled 192 adults who experienced back pain with radiating symptoms down one or both legs for at least four weeks. All study participants received four sessions where they were given instructions for home exercises and self-care advice. Chiropractic care included primarily spinal manipulative therapy, along with muscle stretching, soft tissue treatment, heat and cold therapy.

“As more patients seek self-management and conservative treatment for their health care, this trial provides good evidence in support of a combined approach yielding better outcomes for back-related leg pain sufferers,” said Dr. Craig Schulz, director of the Wolfe-Harris Center for Clinical Studies and a co-investigator in the study.

The clinical trial was conducted at Northwestern Health Sciences University, in collaboration with the Palmer Center for Clinical Research in Davenport, Iowa, and funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration. Published in the prestigious Annals of Internal Medicine, the abstract can be found at

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