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Evidence of benefits from spinal therapy.
The claims of the benefits of providing care to the spinal and musculoskeletal system date back many centuries. Chiropractic has been one profession that has focused on the spinal system in particular.
Research into the benefits of chiropractic adjustments and other types of techniques known as manipulations have regularly shown benefit for pain syndromes such as low back pain and neck pain.
Empirical, anecdotal and case studies.
Clinical chiropractors and other spinal therapist such as osteopaths see many symptoms and syndromes change or resolve whilst the patient is under a course of care. This form of evidence is known as empirical, or anecdotal and is presented as case studies in the scientific literature.
This type of research is considered to be weak evidence of effect. Paradoxically it is usually the type of evidence that has a person attend a chiropractor in the first place. A family member or friend who receives benefit from care will recommend a chiropractor based on their own experience or case.
A comparative study will look at two or more types of therapies or interventions and compare them to each other, and possibly to a placebo to determine which, if any, was the most effective.
Blinded and controlled studies.
The gold standard in biological research is the double blinded controlled clinical trial. It involves studying a group of patients who receive the real therapy under investigation, a sham (or pretend therapy) and a group who receives no therapy.
The researcher is "blinded" by taking results of the therapy without knowing what was done. The patient receiving one of the above interventions, treatment or sham, should ideally be unaware of which it is, therefore the results are double blinded.
The control serves to see if no intervention would have had an effect.
Systematic reviews are studies that look at the range of research in a field and compares the outcomes and conclusion to determine if there is a consistent trend in the published data. This is useful in assessing the validity of a particular clinical procedure and is used to support evidence-based care.