A new randomized clinical trial just published in the medical journal Spine compared medical care of prescribed medications to chiropractic spinal manipulation. The study results revealed that 94% of patients receiving chiropractic manual-thrust spinal manipulations had a 30% reduction in low back pain at week four while only 56% of those receiving medical care (prescribed medications, avoidance of lengthy bed rest, and staying physically active) achieved a 30% reduction in pain. This is consistent with the research reviewed by OHSU’s Center for Evidence-based Policy and the State of Oregon Health Evidence Review Commission that resulted in the 2012 State of Oregon Evidence-based Low Back Pain Management Guidelines. Based on the scientific evidence, those guidelines recommend spinal manipulation as the only non-drug treatment for all three phases of low back pain: acute (four weeks for less), subacute (four to eight weeks duration), and chronic (eight weeks or longer). As a consequence of the mounting evidence in favor of chiropractic manipulation for low back pain, a recent task force consisting of representatives from the Oregon Pain Management Commission, the Oregon Health Authority, and the Health Evidence Review Commission, made a policy change for Oregon’s Medicaid population. Dr. Vern Saboe, Director of Governmental Affairs for the Oregon Chiropractic Association, noted: “We chiropractic physicians look very much forward to working with our local medical doctors in hopes of providing the best possible care for our mutual low back pain patients.”
Beginning January 1, 2016, for the first time in Oregon’s history, Medicaid patients will have access to chiropractic treatments for their back and spinal pain conditions. Update December 8, 2016: The Oregon Health Authority has delayed implementation of chiropractic treatments for back and spinal pain conditions for an undetermined amount of time. See this article in the Bend Bulletin for media coverage of the delay and the Oregon Health Authority website.