From the peer-reviewed scientific periodical, the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, October 2004 edition, comes a study that shows that receiving maintenance chiropractic care after initial care helps patients continue reduction in their disability.
The study was performed with 30 volunteers who were suffering from long term non-specific back problems. These volunteers were divided into two groups. The first group received intensive chiropractic care consisting of 12 visits for one month, followed by a reduced schedule of one visit every three weeks for 9 months after the initial intensive care. The second group received nothing for the first 30 days, to establish a baseline, then received one month of initial intensive care. The second group did not receive any reduced or maintenance care after the initial care. The two groups were then evaluated and compared for pain and disability.
The results showed that both groups had similar reduction of pain and disability after the initial 30 days of chiropractic care. Additionally, both groups maintained their reduction of pain even though only one group had received maintenance care. However, the big difference was that only those individuals who were in the group that received the 9 months of maintenance care were able to maintain their reduction in disability. The group that did not receive maintenance care was able to keep their reduction in pain, but they did return to the same levels of general disability that they were experiencing prior to the initial chiropractic care.
Disability was measured using a scientifically designed questionnaire that looked at 10 items addressing different aspects of functional capacities. This questionnaire, known as the "Oswestry Disability Index" is the accepted method used to measure a person's function as related to their daily activities. In this study, only the group that continued to receive chiropractic care every three weeks was able to maintain the functional improvement they received during the initial care.
The authors of the study concluded, "Intensive spinal manipulation is effective for the treatment of chronic low back pain. This experiment suggests that maintenance spinal manipulations after intensive manipulative care may be beneficial to patients to maintain subjective postintensive treatment disability levels."