May 21, 2018 (Falls Church, VA) The International Chiropractors Association (ICA) is pleased to see the publication of chiropractic research in the new Open Access Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA Network). The study, “Effect of Usual Medical Care Plus Chiropractic Care vs Usual Medical Care Alone on Pain and Disability Among US Service Members With Low Back Pain A Comparative Effectiveness Clinical Trial”[i]found that military members who utilized chiropractic care with their usual medical care (UMC) for low back pain had statistically better outcomes than those who did not utilize chiropractic care.

There were clinically meaningful and statistically significant improvements in their back-related function in those randomized to chiropractic plus UMC (62.6%) compared to those who received UMC alone (46.6%) as well as improvement in pain (57.5% vs 32.5%).  In his invited commentary to the Journal, “Daniel C. Cherkin, MA, PhD noted, “Superior outcomes for the group receiving UMC plus chiropractic care were largely maintained after 12 weeks, 6 weeks after chiropractic care had ended. No serious adverse effects were identified.”[ii]  He goes on to state, “Because of the trial’s large sample size, high follow-up rates (approximately 90% at 6 weeks), and strong analytic methods, the findings are unlikely to be spurious.”

When asked for a comment by ICA on this study, leading expert in integrative health research design, Retired US Army Col. Wayne Jonas, MD, and author of the recently released book, How Healing Works[iii], stated the following about the study, “This is a rigorous, large study of chiropractic care for back pain in the military. As a pragmatic study it looked at the benefit for back pain from adding chiropractic care to what service members currently get. Bottom line is that adding chiropractic care helps improve back pain more than usual care alone. In this time of high opioid use for pain, we desperately need more non-drug approaches to chronic pain. Chiropractic should become a standard part of these options for our military.”

Dr. Michael McLean, DC immediate Past President of ICA stated, “The men and woman of our armed services and their families deserve the best health care our nation can provide. This study adds to the growing body of science confirming that chiropractic care provides meaningful benefit and should become more easily available to those who serve and their families.”

ICA Director of Government Relations, Beth Clay stated, “This latest publication of peer reviewed chiropractic research can benefit military medicine globally.  It is both an important contribution to the body of research evaluating chiropractic care in our military population as well as a well written paper.  When I read research studies, I look for several key inclusions – a clear description of the study methods, strengths, and limitations; a reasoning for why this study is needed in the bigger picture of health care (in this case, to reduce reliance on opioids); discussion on adverse effects monitoring; and disclosure of conflicts of interest. This paper includes all of these.”

Ms. Clay continued, “We already know members of the military have higher rates of back pain than the public; this study’s outcomes support ICA’s position that our nation’s military members deserve full and unfettered access to chiropractic care. As Congress works on the FY2019 budget, ICA urges increased research resources and clear instructions to increase chiropractic research funding be provided to the Department of Defense, the Veterans Administration, and the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health at the National Institutes of Health.”

[i]Goertz CM, Long CR, Vining RD, Pohlman KA, Walter J, Coulter I. Effect of Usual Medical Care Plus Chiropractic Care vs Usual Medical Care Alone on Pain and Disability Among US Service Members With Low Back Pain A Comparative Effectiveness Clinical Trial. JAMA Network Open.2018;1(1):e180105. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.0105

[ii]Cherkin DC. Innovating to Improve Care for Low Back Pain in the Military Chiropractic Care Passes Muster. JAMA Network Open.2018;1(1):e180106. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.0106


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