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Chiropractic Research Review

Chiropractic Management of Dyspepsia

Dyspepsia is a common affliction: Up to 50% of Americans and Europeans suffer from the condition, which is characterized by pain, heartburn, excessive belching, and general abdominal discomfort.

The majority of patients who experience such symptoms do so without the presence of any identifiable disease, and are considered to have "functional, (non-ulcerous) dyspepsia.

In this study, the authors sought to determine whether dyspepsia is commonly encountered in the chiropractic setting; the chiropractic procedures used by DCs to address the condition; and if DCs perceived that their care was effective in treating the condition. Researchers sent an electronic survey and explanatory note to 621 members of the Chiropractors' Association of Australia. Participants were asked to estimate how often patients with dyspepsia were seen in their clinics; to specify which techniques they used most frequently for dyspepsia patients (including specific vertebral levels adjusted); and to rate their perceived effectiveness in the management of dyspepsia. The chiropractors were given 10 days to complete and return the questionnaire.

Results: Data drawn from the 66 surveys received (11.8% of those originally e-mailed) showed that the most common method of dyspepsia management was adjustment of the thoracic spine (91%), followed by nutritional advice (74%), cervical adjustment (68%), visceral manipulation (55%) and soft tissue work/mobilization (52%). Recommendation of herbal/homeopathic remedies, pelvic adjustments and lumbar adjustments were all used less than 50% of the time.

More than 30 "brand name" techniques were employed by chiropractors in the management of dyspeptic patients. The most commonly used techniques were Sacro-Occipital Technique (41%), Activator Methods (36%), applied kinesiology (32%), relaxation techniques (30%), and cranial techniques and Terminal Point Technique (27% each). Overall, chiropractors considered their methods effective in the management of dyspepsia. Ninety-five percent of the respondents rated chiropractic management "very effective" or "moderately effective." Only 5% considered chiropractic management "mildly effective."

The researchers concluded that their findings, particularly those related to the effectiveness of chiropractic in the treatment, provide grounds for "further investigation in the form of randomized, controlled clinical trials." They added, "Further research into the efficacy of individual methods used, as well as details of those specified only in broad terms, would be interesting."

While this study illuminates some interesting associations between dyspepsia and chiropractic care, readers should be aware that a response rate of 60% or more is generally accepted as the standard for a survey to provide valid data.

Love Z, Bull P. Management of dyspepsia: a chiropractic perspective. Chiropractic Journal of Australia June 2003:3(2), pp57-63.

Chiropractic Research Review

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