Neck pain affects three out of every four people at one stage in their lives. In a recently published study, research showed that for those with neck pain, chiropractic care had significantly more pain relief benefit than medication.
Year 12 students swatting for their final exams should think twice about taking drugs for that pain in the neck . . . that’s the clear message from a landmark US study1 into treatment options for one of the world’s most common complaints.
Neck pain affects three out of every four people at one stage in their lives, particularly sedentary students doing final exams and office workers chained to a desk.
The cost in over the counter painkillers, medical bills and lost productivity is substantial, but more important is the toll the pain takes on an individual’s physical and mental wellbeing.
However, in a recently published study, research showed that for those with neck pain, chiropractic care had significantly more pain relief benefit than medication. The research also pointed to a light, in-home exercise program also having greater benefits than drug therapy.
Dr Laurence Tassell, national president of the Chiropractors’ Association of Australia (CAA), welcomed the research. “It’s immensely gratifying to have the results that our patients consistently report to us confirmed by independent research.”
The groups were measured for pain at regular intervals over 52 weeks and the study found that “for participants with acute and sub acute neck pain” chiropractic adjustment “was more effective than medication in both the short and long term”. The exercise regime was also found to be more beneficial than medication at most time points.
Dr Tassell said he hoped Australians would use the study to examine their reliance on painkillers.
“While medication can have a place in pain management, this research shows people that gentle, drug-free chiropractic care and exercise can be much more effective in relieving neck pain.
“There are also well documented side-effects, including gastrointestinal problems like internal bleeding, which can come from extended use of pain-killers,” Dr Tassell warned.
Neck pain is one of the most common complaints that Australian chiropractors see, and it is particularly prevalent among people with sedentary jobs.
“The most common age grouping of patients is from the mid-20s to the 50s, with perhaps more women than men, but at this time of the year we always see a spike in teenagers who are spending hours studying for their Year 12 exams,” Dr Tassell said.
The Chiropractors’ Association of Australia warns people that in most cases neck pain is only a symptom of a neck that has for some reason lost function. Treating only the pain can mask problems such as spinal arthritis, nerve root compression and spinal disc disease.
The CAA recommends that at risk people like students and office workers should limit the amount of time they continually sit at a desk, making sure they take regular short breaks to move around and stretch the upper body muscles.
Easy three-minute daily spinal health exercises for both children and adults can be downloaded from the Association’s website www.straightenupaustralia.com.au.