Minimise the Recurrence of Low Back Injury, Reduce Pain and Gain Long-Term Improvement!

Acute low back pain

Back pain - it’s one of the most prevalent and costly musculoskeletal conditions in regard to treatment and disability, with costs estimated at around $9 billion per year in Australia.  The ever-growing costs are largely a result of the high recurrence of such injury and the simple fact that at least 10% of sufferers go on to develop chronic, disabling back pain.


Chiropractic, and the spinal maintenance care it can offer, is a clinical intervention that may prevent these recurrences of back pain. Public health experts today are now turning their attention to the expected recurrence of back pain, as well as its prevention, in an effort to curb the growing epidemic of such conditions.

In a recent study published in SPINE by Senna (2011), individuals suffering from acute low back pain were separated into three experimental groups;

  • The first, control group, where subjects were under the assumption they were undergoing full treatment but were only receiving minimal, “hands on” pressure (i.e. placebo)
  • The second, full treatment group consisting of an initial intensive chiropractic care phase of 12 visits over a 4-week period.
  • The third, full treatment plus spinal maintenance care group in which subjects received chiropractic care every 2 weeks for 9-months following the 12 initial, intensive care visits.

Not surprisingly, it was found that the second and third groups (those receiving chiropractic care) experienced significantly lower pain and disability scores than the control group under placebo care.  Treatment satisfaction rates among the two full treatment groups additionally revealed 3 out of 4 patients reporting a definite improvement in symptoms within those initial 12 visits.


What was interesting however was that only the third group, who received spinal maintenance care during the 9 month follow-up period, gained an additional 17% improvement by their 10-month evaluation. The mean pain and disability scores in the two groups that did not maintain care returned back to their pre-treatment level - they were back where they started!


While it is acknowledged that much more research is required to uncover the optimum number and frequency of visits to gain the best effect of spinal maintenance care, there is increasing evidence to support the notion that ongoing chiropractic care may significantly reduce the likelihood of symptom recurrence. Another recent study by Cifuentes (JOEM 2011) found that regular chiropractic care was “less costly”, “had lower use of drugs (and less side effects) and fewer surgeries” than other provider groups.


Chronic pain is increasingly being recognised as detrimental to brain health and in a study by Apkarian (2004), patients with chronic low back pain showed 5-11% less cortical (brain) tissue on MRI than healthy subjects. This brain atrophy or “wasting” was likened to the loss of grey matter seen in 10-20 years of normal aging.


Ultimately, maintenance care can be compared to your regular dental check-ups, the upkeep of your garden or the service of your car. Treatment, information, advice, prescribed exercises and home care serve to minimise recurrence of an existing injury, prevent a new problem from developing and optimise your general health and well-being. For more information about the type of care that is best suited to your needs, talk to any of the chiropractors here at Shirley Rd Chiropractic - Crows Nest and Norwest.

  • Senna, MK., Machaly, SA. (2011) Does Maintained Spinal Manipulation Therapy for Chronic Non-specific Low Back Pain Result in Better Long-Term Outcome? SPINE. 36(18): 1427-1437.
  • Cifuentes, M; Willetts, J; Wasiak, R. (2011) Health Maintenance Care in Work-Related Low Back Pain and its Association with Disability Recurrence. Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine. 53(4): 396-404.
  • Apkarian et al. (2004) Chronic Back Pain is Associated with Decreased Prefrontal and Thalamic Grey Matter Density. The Journal of Neuroscience. 24(26): 10410-10415.

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