Study: Patients with chronic back pain experience significant improvement from chiropractic care

While as a clinic, we pride ourselves on providing a wide range of services for our clients and have a specific focus on keeping people healthy and avoiding injury in the first place – there’s no question that the majority of clients find us as a result of their desire to alleviate pain and suffering. It’s long been known that chiropractic can be effective in reducing many forms of pain – especially back pain, but now more and more studies are starting to confirm this.


Back pain and Patient-reported outcomes

Back pain, but especially non-specific back pain – is a complex condition which can be caused by a variety of biological, psychological and social factors[1] It has been estimated that the vast majority of back pain cases is of non-specific origin), which can make it especially difficult to manage efficiently. Chiropractic treatment such as spinal manipulation is recommended in clinical guidelines of back pain management[2], especially so in the care of nonspecific back pain.

Since the effects of back pain are so wide-reaching – far beyond just being a painful complaint, much recent research has put an emphasis on patient-reported outcomes (PRO) rather than just measurements taken by investigators. PRO studies have the advantage in that that can shed light on different aspects of patients’ health status, rather than just focusing on the painful complaint. PRO’s are usually measured using a health-related quality of life (HRQoL) questionnaire, which allows some degree of standardisation of results while giving patients room to express their views o a large number of issues. This approach has been suggested as an important area of research to increase the understanding and improvement of clinical care.[3]

Now, a study just published in 2019 has published results of  PRO approach targeting back pain, back disability and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) for patients with low back pain seeking chiropractic care in Sweden.


New study results

The 2019 study explored chiropractic patients experience of back pain intensity, back disability, health-related quality of life and self-rated health, among patients with back pain receiving chiropractic care in Sweden. 246 patients participated throughout the course of the study.  All of the Patients 18 years and older, with non-specific back pain of any duration, seeking care at 23 chiropractic clinics throughout Sweden and were invited to answer PRO questionnaires at baseline (that is to say, at the first appointment) with the main follow-up after four weeks of appropriate chiropractic treatment, determined by the chiropractors in the usual way.

In the final summary investigators found that across the board, every one of the patients with acute back pain reported statistically significant improvements between baseline and the main follow-up after four weeks for all PRO criteria. Three out of four of the patients with chronic (long term) back pain also reported statistically significant, albeit somewhat smaller, improvements after four weeks for all PRO’s, except for self-rated health.


PRO’s suggest a significant improvement from chiropractic care

The above study just adds to the weight of evidence which suggests that in acute nonspecific back pain cases, in particular, chiropractic care can bring rapid results. It’s not surprising to us, since treating painful back pain cases is one of our main roles in the community!

It’s also worth noting, however, that while three of four long term back pain patients did find relief after 4 weeks of treatment, one in four had not seen a significant improvement. There are many possible reasons for this, but one likely candidate would be underlying postural issues which traditional chiropractic care does not always address. It’s for this reason that complete chiropractic offers chiropractic biophysics treatment to all our patients since it is by far the best method within chiropractic for addressing long term, postural issues which frequently lead to chronic back pain.



[1] Statens beredning för medicinsk och social utvärdering 2016
Preventiva insatser vid akut smärta från rygg och nacke. Statens beredning för medicinsk och social utvärdering,

[2] Globe G, Farabaugh RJ, Hawk C, Morris CE, Baker G, Whalen WM, Walters S 2016
Clinical Practice Guideline: Chiropractic Care for Low Back Pain
J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2016 (Jan); 39 (1): 1–22

Lidwall U 2011 Vad kostar olika sjukdomar i sjukförsäkringen?
Kostnader för sjukpenning i sjukskrivningar (över 14 dagar) samt sjukersättning och aktivitetsersättning
år 2009 fördelat på diagnos. Försäkringskassan.

van Tulder M, Becker A, Bekkering T, Breen A, del Real MT, Hutchinson A, Koes B, Laerum E, Malmivaara A, On behalf of the Cost B13 Working Group on Guidelines for the Management of Acute Low Back Pain in Primary Care 2006
Chapter 3. European Guidelines for the Management of Acute Nonspecific Low Back Pain in Primary Care
European Spine Journal 2006 (Mar); 15 Suppl 2: S169–191

[3] Deshpande PR, Rajan S, Sudeepthi BL, Abdul Nazir CP 2011
Patient-reported outcomes: A new era in clinical research.
Perspectives in clinical research 2: 137-144.

Blog by / May 24, 2019 / 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