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Chiropractic Research Review

Opinions of the Effectiveness of Complementary Therapies for Low Back Pain

An increasingly larger proportion of the public is choosing complementary/alternative therapies (CATs). While there are some clinical trials for different types of low back pain (LBP), firm evidence in multiple categories does not exist.

The purpose of this paper was to try to bridge the gap between the available evidence and
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the popularity of CATs as a treatment for LBP. The authors chose to design a research study that would generate expert opinion regarding the use of chiropractic, osteopathy, acupuncture, homeopathy, and herbalism for different kinds of LBP.

Twenty noteworthy clinical experts on LBP were sent a postal questionnaire. The panel included authors of 4 or more publications on LBP and regular clinical contact with LBP patients. Validation of the search strategy used to identify this expert panel showed that between 1992 and 1996 these 20 had published 24.6% of the LBP literature in the high-quality journals (e.g. New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, Spine) focused on by this studys authors.

Based on the data collected in this survey, the expert panel considered osteopathy and chiropractic to be effective, particularly for patients with acute, uncomplicated LBP. Other conclusions are that acupuncture is effective for chronic, uncomplicated LBP and that homeopathy is ineffective for any type of LBP. There was insufficient data on the clinical effectiveness of herbalism as a treatment for LBP.

Ernst E, Pittler MH. Experts' opinions on complementary/alternative therapies for low back pain. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, Feb. 1999;22(2), pp87-90.
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Chiropractic Research Review

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