A little while ago we were excited to bring you the results of the Nordic Maintenance Care Program, a very high quality clinical trial which studied the effectiveness of chiropractic maintenance care for persistent lower back pain. The study has now undergone ‘secondary analysis’ in which the original study data is further dissected to gain further insight.
To recap…. the initial study followed two groups (320 patients) attending 40 chiropractic clinics in Sweden. All recruits had previously responded very well to chiropractic care for an episode of low back pain. One group received ‘maintenance care’ which involved attending a chiropractor for regular appointments at least one month apart (regardless of whether low back pain was present or absent at the time of the visits). The other group (control group) were asked to only attend when they had an episode of low back pain which required treatment.
The Maintenance care group experienced a reduction in the number of days with bothersome lower back pain per week, compared to the symptom-guided treatment group.
In the new study the maintenance care group were also found to have less days with 'acute' low back pain and longer pain free periods between episodes (compared to the symptom-guided group).
This new analysis also found that patients who benefited most from maintenance care tended to be more dysfunctional and distressed by low back pain. In other words, their pain tended to be more severe and interfered with daily tasks and relationships.
Conversely, in this analysis those patients who were seen as able to better cope with, and adapt to their low back pain episodes, did not tend to experience the same benefit from maintenance care.
Take Home Message:
If you are finding it difficult to cope with persistent/recurrent episodes of low back pain and have previously responded well to chiropractic care you may benefit by managing your pain with regular chiropractic maintenance care.
It is also very important to remember that 'maintenance care' is just one part of a multifaceted strategy to help sufferers living with persistent back pain. It does not replace the need for other important strategies such as exercise, diet and stress reduction.