Veterans embrace spinal manipulation for low back pain

Head shot of Jonathan Lurie, M.D.

Many military veterans suffer from chronic low back pain. This pain can be treated with medication, but high medication use can have a negative impact on a veteran’s overall quality of life. It could also contribute to long-term disability and opioid addiction.

A new trial supported in part by the National Institutes of Health hopes to identify the ideal amount of spinal manipulation, or chiropractic, care for veterans and to reduce the need for medication. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health is supporting the trial in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

“The VA has embraced chiropractic care,” Jonathan Lurie, M.D., explains. “They have chiropractic clinics at many VA facilities now, and how to best utilize that resource is an important question.”

Throughout the trial, participants will receive chiropractic care at different rates to see if more appointments lead to better management of pain. In the first part of the study, participants will be split into two groups. Over the course of 10 weeks, participants will either have one to five chiropractic visits or eight to 12 visits, depending on what group they are in. After that, the participants will be split again. Half will receive monthly chiropractic care, and the other half will receive care as needed.

By looking at the impact of these different amounts of care, Dr. Lurie hopes to learn more about how to best use chiropractic care for veterans—and the ideal amount to make an impact on low back pain.

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