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4 Things To Know About Spinal Manipulation for Low-Back Pain

Low-back pain is one of the most common health complaints, affecting 8 out of 10 people at some point during their lives. Spinal manipulation is one of several nondrug approaches that may be used to treat it. Here are 4 things to know about spinal manipulation for low-back pain:

  1. Spinal manipulation is a technique where practitioners use their hands or a device to apply a controlled thrust to a joint of the spine. Most spinal manipulations are done by chiropractors, but other licensed professionals, including osteopathic physicians and physical therapists, may also use this technique.

  2. Spinal manipulation may lead to small improvements in both pain and function in people with acute (short-term) or chronic (long-lasting) low-back pain. Function means how low-back pain affects various aspects of people’s lives, such as walking, standing, sleeping, and doing household tasks.

  3. In its 2017 clinical guidelines, the American College of Physicians stated that spinal manipulation is one of several therapeutic options that may help people with acute or chronic low-back pain. However, the strength of the evidence favoring spinal manipulation is low.

  4. Spinal manipulation often has transient, mild-to-moderate side effects, such as increased pain or discomfort, stiffness, or headache. These side effects usually go away within 24 hours. Serious side effects are very rare. Because preexisting health problems may increase the risks associated with spinal manipulation, it’s important to share information about your health with the practitioner before you start treatment.