WEDNESDAY, July 6 (HealthDay News) -- For the millions of Americans with chronic low back pain, a silver bullet to alleviate the condition has yet to be identified, a new study suggests.
Reviewing 26 studies comparing spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) to other treatments such as medication, exercise or physical therapy, researchers from the Netherlands found that SMT appears to be no better or worse than other options at relieving back pain long-term.
The analyses indicated that SMT -- which involves manual manipulation of the spine and surrounding muscles -- has only a short-term impact on pain relief, although it eases pain faster than other treatments.
"In short, no single therapy is better than another, although some individuals are likely to have more success with one therapy than another," said study author Sidney Rubinstein, a research fellow at VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam.
"Current studies are focusing on which subjects are more likely to benefit from spinal manipulation, exercise, or other therapies," he added. "Spinal manipulation should be considered a viable treatment option for those with non-specific, chronic low back pain."
The study was recently published in the journal Spine.
More than 6,000 patients were included in the compilation of results, which the study authors said were sparse in data indicating participants' overall recovery, quality of life and ability to return to work. The studies also varied in quality, with only nine of 26 considered "low [in] bias," according to background information accompanying the study.
In all evaluations, patients were randomly assigned to SMT or another comparison treatment, including active treatments such as exercise or inactive placebo treatments.
About two-thirds of the studies were not included in a previous review published in 2004, and all patients had suff
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