Integrated care for low back pain

Low back pain is one of the most common conditions which we help people with at the clinic – back pain itself is obviously one of the main issues for which chiropractors are known, and low back pain is probably the most prevalent specific issue we see. Chiropractic has been shown to be effective in treating low back pain in many studies – but some research suggests even better care might be possible…


Low back pain

Low back pain (LBP) can be caused by a huge variety of issues – everything from injury to poor posture has been linked to low back pain – but despite the huge range of possible causes we still often look for a single “one-size fits all” treatment. Painkillers are one common choice that, as chiropractors, we’d advise you to avoid (at least as a long term option) – but just because there are some issues with painkillers as a solution,  doesn’t mean that chiropractic is a perfect solution either. Indeed, more recent research into low back pain treatment specifically suggests that team-based models which integrate complementary professional disciplines can be even more effective than chiropractic alone.


Study results

A recently published paper outlined the findings of a randomized clinical trial conducted from May 2007 to August 2010, which aimed to evaluate the relative clinical effectiveness of 12 weeks of chiropractic care alone, versus a multidisciplinary integrative care approach, making use of various approaches to care for adults with low back pain.

In the study 201 participants were enrolled – split into two groups, the patients received either chiropractic care, or a mix treatments from acupuncturists, chiropractors, psychologists, exercise therapists, massage therapists, and primary care physicians, with case managers coordinating care delivery. Treatment approaches used for the mixed group included acupuncture and Oriental medicine (AOM), spinal manipulation or mobilization (SMT), cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), exercise therapy (ET), massage therapy (MT), medication (Med), and self-care education (SCE).

As expected, the largest reductions in pain intensity occurred at the end of treatment and, as might be expected, those receiving support from a mix of professionals had better results. What’s interesting, however, was that the improvement with a range of practitioners was only slightly better than chiropractic alone – 43% for CC and 47% for the integrated care approach. Overall, participants in the mixed care group tended to have better outcomes than the chiropractic alone group, however, the magnitude of the group differences was relatively small when considered as a whole. With this in mind, the study authors concluded that while a multidisciplinary approach is more effective than chiropractic alone, when one factors for the resources required to successfully implement multidisciplinary integrative care teams (ie. Cost!), they may not be worthwhile when compared with the cost and time required for chiropractic care alone[1].


Integrated care at Complete Chiropractic

Thankfully, as a patient, you don’t necessarily have to choose one or the other – At Complete Chiropractic, we’ve taken note of these kinds of studies and almost since the clinic opened in 1999 we’ve been practising a multidisciplinary approach to care. That’s why we have services such as sports therapy, massage and even acupuncture offered through the clinic! Having a mix of skills on hand allows us to go beyond the significant improvements in pain and discomfort already possible with chiropractic, with the aim of taking them to a level much closer to the experience had by those visiting a number of different specialists. This is just one of the values and approaches which make us a “one stop shop” for many common problems.


[1] Gert Bronfort, et al. Multidisciplinary Integrative Care Versus Chiropractic Care for Low Back Pain: A Randomized Clinical Trial,  Chiropractic & Manual Therapies 2022 (Mar 1); 30: 10

Blog by / April 6, 2022 / Blog

Dr. Paul Irvine is a doctor of chiropractic who graduated in 1994 with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of NSW and in 1996, attained his Master of Chiropractic degree from Macquarie University in Australia. He practised in North Sydney for 5 years before he left Australia to travel and practise in the UK. He joined Complete Chiropractic in 2003 (est 1999) and took over the clinic in 2007