For many people back pain is the number one reason they visit their doctors. And for decades, epidural steroid injections have been the mainstay for the short term treatment of the pain caused by disc herniations.
While epidural injections are effective and require no surgery, the relief is often only temporary and injections are limited to no more than 2 or 3 per year. Typically, the pain relief only lasts 2-3 weeks after an injection. In addition, known side effects of epidural injections include the weakening of spinal bones and soft tissues as well as the interruption of a person’s natural hormone balance.
A new study published by the Journal of Manual and Physiological Therapeutics, compared the effects of chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy and epidural injections (NRI). The results of the study showed that after one month of treatment, “both groups experienced significant improvements” of their symptoms.
“Of the group under chiropractic care, 76.5% said they were “much better” or “better” compared to 62.7% of NRI patients. Sixty percent of chiropractic patients had a significant reduction in pain compared to 53% of NRI patients. These slight differences were not statistically significant.”
In fact, none of the chiropractic patients received surgery, however 3 of the NRI patients eventually underwent an operation.
Even though both treatments are considered to be equally effective, the differences in the treatment costs are substantial. “On average, one month of chiropractic adjustments was less expensive than NRI ($558 vs. $729).” This cost difference only included the minimum cost of an NRI treatment and did not factor in any additional costs that are routinely included such as: consultations, multiple injections, or potential surgery.
As a result, this study shows that patients “can experience substantial relief from chiropractic care without worrying about the side effects of steroids or drugs.” On top of that, the research also shows that chiropractic patients paid less for a treatment that is just as effective.