Assessment of Chiropractic Treatment for Active Duty, U.S. Military Personnel with Low Back Pain
Written by Editor   
Tuesday, April 19, 2016 12:00 AM

Low back pain is highly prevalent and one of the most common causes of disability in U.S. armed forces personnel. Currently, no single therapeutic method has been established as a gold standard treatment for this increasingly prevalent condition. One commonly used treatment, which has demonstrated consistent positive outcomes in terms of pain and function within a civilian population is spinal manipulative therapy provided by doctors of chiropractic. Chiropractic care, delivered within a multidisciplinary framework in military healthcare settings, has the potential to help improve clinical outcomes for military personnel with low back pain.

However, its effectiveness in a military setting has not been well established. The primary objective of this study is to evaluate changes in pain and disability in active duty service members with low back pain who are allocated to receive usual medical care plus chiropractic care versus treatment with usual medical care alone.  

Because low back pain is one of the leading causes of disability among U.S. military personnel, it is important to find pragmatic and conservative treatments that will treat low back pain and preserve low back function so that military readiness is maintained. Thus, it is important to evaluate the effects of the addition of chiropractic care to usual medical care on low back pain and disability.

In the United States, the chiropractic profession contains more than 70,000 actively licensed practitioners who specialize in conservative treatment for musculoskeletal conditions with a special focus on spinal health. At least 7.5 % of the U.S. population seeks chiropractic care each year, representing over 190 million patient visits annually. The care offered by doctors of chiropractic (DCs) is consistently rated highly by patients in studies assessing satisfaction. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have demonstrated that chiropractic care and its signature treatment, spinal manipulation, is an effective conservative care option for patients with LBP.  Chiropractic care or spinal manipulation is also endorsed as an evidence-based, cost effective, conservative treatment option in the clinical practice guidelines for patients with acute, subacute, and chronic LBP.

DCs provide care in private practice and in multidisciplinary healthcare settings, including Veterans Affairs and military health treatment facilities. Currently, chiropractic care is available at 65 military health treatment facilities within the United States and internationally.