The AHCPR Findings


The results published in 1994 by the United States Agency for Health Care Policy Research, reviewed that many treatments for acute low back pain in adults. The panel consisted of medical doctors, osteopaths, nurses, physical therapist, and others familiar with the treatment of low back pain. The results of their five-year study concluded that relief "can be accomplished most safely with non prerscription medication and/or spinal manipulation."

The panel screened over one hundred published studies relating to spinal manipulation. Using the criteria of symptomatic and functional improvement, the researcher concluded that spinal manipulation is helpful for patients with acute low back pain.

Perhaps more significant were treatments found to be ineffective and of unproven value. The panel found no evidence of benefit from physical therapy, massage, traction, ultra-sound, laser treatment, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, or biofeedback techniques.

More invasive procedures were dismissed as well. There was little evidence to support the use of injections, muscle relaxers, steroids, acupuncture, or early surgical intervention. The panel found that even prolonged bed rest (more than 4 days), should be avoided.

Upon review of countless controlled randomized clinical trials, the panel concluded that restoration of spinal biomechanics, using methods like those used by chiropractic doctors, to be helpful and highly recommended.

Bigos, S., Bowyer, O., Braen, G., et al. Acute Low Back Problems in Adults. Clinical Practice Guideline No. 14. AHCPR Publication No. 95-0642. Rockville, MD: Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, Public Health Service, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. December 1994.