A large study of 1334 patients in the United Kingdom set out to answer the question of what helps back pain. Patients were randomly assigned to 4 groups. The 4 groups were: best care” advice from medical doctors, stretching and exercise, chiropractic adjustments, and exercise and chiropractic adjustments. The patients were followed for 12 months. The patients who had the best outcomes were the group that received both chiropractic adjustments and exercise. Chiropractic adjustments alone had a better outcome than exercise alone. “Best care” advice form medical doctors fared the worst.
One reason that chiropractic adjustments fared so well may be answered by a separate study of 90 college students. These college students “core” muscles (trunk muscles) were tested and 17 students were found to have poor activation of their core muscles. Time did not improve these 17 students as they were re-tested over 3 months. A single low back and pelvic adjustment was performed. After a single adjustment, the students had a 40% improvement in the activation of their core muscles. It is known that strong core muscles significantly reduce the chance of low back injury and low back pain. This may be why the combination of chiropractic adjustments and exercise was the most effective treatment in the first study.