Best Treatment for Neck and Back Pain: NSAIDs v Acupuncture v Chiropractic


When you are experiencing ongoing neck and back pain, you may be willing to compare the three most popular treatments by looking at the research. Following are the results of three studies comparing the efficacy of NSAIDs, acupuncture and chiropractic manipulation in relieving neck and back pain.

The first controlled study included 115 patients who were randomly assigned one of the three treatment options to relieve chronic pain. Data gleaned feedback questionnaires was gathered at two, five, and nine weeks during the treatment period. Results revealed that patients treated with chiropractic manipulation experienced the best overall improvements in back pain at nine weeks.

A follow-up study using the same patient group two years later showed that only patients who had received chiropractic manipulation in the initial study had maintained long-term improvements in their spinal pain and reduced disability.

A third study used a pilot group of 77 patients complaining of chronic spinal pain who were also separated into record changes in levels of pain and disability. After 30 days, the patients treated with chiropractic manipulation reported significant reduction in pain and improvement in physical ability.

Finally, the most impressive outcomes came from a study conducted in 2008 by International Bone and Joint Decade 2000-2010 Task Force on Neck Pain. They classified patients experiencing spinal pain into other serious diseases like cancer, or conditions like fractures or infections. They concluded that chiropractic manipulation was effective in relieving pain, especially in Groups 1 and 2.

The results of these studies suggest that chiropractic manipulation is a superior treatment for severe and debilitating back pain, both in the short term and over the long run. Increasingly, chiropractic care is being incorporated as an alternative therapy for pain within physicians groups who take a team approach to patient care.


In this instance, an athlete was originally diagnosed with minor quadriceps muscle strain and was treated for four weeks, with unsatisfactory results. When he came to our clinic, the muscle was not healing, and the patients’ muscle tissue had already begun to atrophy.

Upon examination using MSUS, we discovered that he had a full muscle thickness tear that had been overlooked by his previous provider. To mitigate damage and promote healing, surgery should have been performed immediately after the injury occurred. Because of misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment, the patient now has permanent damage that cannot be corrected.

The most important advantage of Ultrasound over MRI imaging is its ability to zero in on the symptomatic region and obtain imaging, with active participation and feedback from the patient. Using dynamic MSUS, we can see what happens when patients contract their muscles, something that cannot be done with MRI. From a diagnostic perspective, this interaction is invaluable.

Dynamic ultrasonography examination demonstrating
the full thickness tear and already occurring muscle atrophy
due to misdiagnosis and not referring the patient
to proper diagnostic workup

Demonstration of how very small muscle defect is made and revealed
to be a complete tear with muscle contraction
under diagnostic sonography (not possible with MRI)


Complete tear of rectus femoris
with large hematoma (blood)


Separation of muscle ends due to tear elicited
on dynamic sonography examination

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