How Often Is Chiropractic Needed for Low Back Pain?

Written by Stephen M. Perle, DC, MS, Thomas Ciccone

For acute low back pain, 6 to 12 sessions over the course of 2 to 4 weeks is standard. These initial treatments emphasize the "passive" (non-exercise) approaches of manual therapy to relieve pain and improve function. As quickly as possible, more "active" (exercise) can be used to increase function and ultimately return a patient back to his or her daily life.
What If My Neck or Back Pain Doesn't Go Away?
Many times, acute symptoms resolve within the first trial; a 4-week period. However, it is also possible the pain can become chronic—that is, lasting longer than 12 weeks.

Some patients simply may reach a plateau in their recovery process, referred to as MTB (met therapeutic benefit). A chiropractor would want to see if withdrawing from chiropractic treatments has a residual effect, exacerbates the pain, and/or reduces function and activity performance. If so, a management regimen may be necessary.

For example, if mild to severe chronic pain is exacerbated, a patient may have 1 to 6 more visits per episode, at 2 to 3 weekly treatments for 2 to 4 weeks. Rarely, patients may need ongoing care of 1 to 4 visits per month.

Chiropractic Re-evaluation Necessary
Clinicians are not going to continue chiropractic treatments if they are not helping the patient. Because of this, every 2 to 4 weeks, a chiropractor re-evaluates the patient to see if the chiropractic treatments still are having a beneficial effect.

Listed below are some of the criteria for continuing treatment for chronic low back pain:

Continuing Low Back Pain Treatment
Living with chronic low back pain is a challenge, but chiropractors want to emphasize to patients that self-therapy is a vital component of pain management. This can include rehabilitation and range-of-motion exercises. However, chiropractors also may encourage more multimodal approaches, such as incorporating acupuncture, massage therapy, yoga, lifestyle and psychosocial counseling, and many more treatment options that can be very beneficial. The treatments recommended and the benefits gained can vary with every individual, which is why it is important to be in a proactive, communicative relationship with your chiropractor.

This article about chiropractic care for low back pain contains information cited from an update in the recommended treatment guidelines published by the Council on Chiropractic Guidelines and Practice Parameters (CCGPP).

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Chiropractic Care for Low Back Pain