5 Minute Guide: Harvard Health Recommendations for Back Pain

What is Harvard Health Publishing?

Harvard Health Publishing is a part of Harvard Medical School, providing information to the public on various topics, including common conditions, tips for staying healthy, access to health resources, and a collection of blogs on various topics including Harvard Health recommendations for back pain.

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As a branch of Harvard Medical School, the articles published here can draw on the knowledge of over 11,000 physicians from the Medical School and the affiliated hospitals.

Harvard Health is working to provide its audience with the most trustworthy information (1).

This site has pages of information on any health topic you can think of, so what did they have to say about Chiropractic care?

Chiropractic Care for Pain Relief

Harvard Health Publishing posted an article giving a quick overview of chiropractic care and some treatment options some chiropractors chose to employ as part of the growing collection of Harvard Health recommendations for back pain.

This article showed a great understanding of the goals of chiropractic, citing: “The ultimate goal of chiropractic is to help relieve pain and help patients better manage their condition at home” (2).

I couldn’t have said it any better.

As a chiropractor, my goal is always to get my patients out of pain and prevent their injuries from returning with active care exercises and changes to their posture (among other things).

This article was well-researched and included many newer trends in chiropractic, such as working in an integrative health care system.

A Young Woman Participates in Her First Yoga Session After Having Read Recent Harvard Health Recommendations for Back Pain
Harvard Health Recommendations for Back Pain: Integrative Care

This author credits chiropractors with working on any joint in the body but attributes chiropractors with specializing in spinal manipulations.

Though this article was kept short and sweet, it hits the significant aspects of chiropractic care and easily conveys how chiropractors help relieve pain through various treatment methods making it a worthy inclusion on the list of Harvard Health recommendations for back pain.

Should You See a Chiropractor for Your Low Back Pain?

This article, written by the Senior Faculty Editor Robert H. Shmerling, MD, outlines the role of chiropractic care in low back pain and reviews some of the research on chiropractic care.

Looking at a study from 2018 centering around military members that are experiencing low back pain, Dr. Shmerling reports that members that received chiropractic care “reported less pain intensity, experienced less disability and more improvement in function, reported higher satisfaction with their treatment, and needed less pain medicine” (3).

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Like any other study, there is room for improvement.

The limitations of this study leave the door open for many other studies into the benefits of chiropractic care.

This study still supports chiropractic care for treating low back pain.

Dr. Shmerling concludes this article by stating, “This won’t be — and shouldn’t be — the last study of chiropractic care for low back pain. But until we know more, I’ll continue to offer it as one of many treatment options” (3).

A Group of Multidisciplinary Healthcare Professionals Discusses a Recent Study Cited as Part of an Article Reviewing Several Harvard Health Recommendations for Back Pain
Harvard Health Recommendations for Back Pain: Research

What Else Does Harvard Health Recommend for Back Pain?

Harvard Health has a vast library of back pain-related topics.

Anything you want to know about pain, exercises, lifestyle changes, and nutrition.

Conservative treatments, in addition to chiropractic care, include acupuncture, massage, and physical therapy.

Harvard Health Publishing even features of an article on home remedies for back pain, which provides for heating the area, stretching, and incorporating exercises into your daily routine to help keep you out of pain in the future.

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In an article titled “Here’s Something Completely Different for Low Back Pain,” the author, Dr. Shmerling, reviews some guidelines for treating acute and chronic low back pain.

He recommends treatments such as acupuncture, chiropractic care, heat, and massage for pain less than twelve weeks ago ( a new low back complaint).

When the cases become more chronic (more than twelve weeks), he recommends exercises, physical therapy, and mindfulness activities that help reduce the stress from pain.

What Does the Research Say About Chiropractic?

Harvard Health covers an expanse of topics in the healthcare field.

With the vast number of issues they cover, it is unsurprising that chiropractic care is only referenced a few times.

Many chiropractic studies have focused on various topics, from neck and low back pain to cost-effectiveness.

A Medical Professional Reviews Data from a Recent Study as Part of Her Work on a New Article to be Included within a Growing Collection of Harvard Health Recommendations for Back Pain
Harvard Health Recommendations for Back Pain: Review

This is just a glimpse at some of the results from the studies that are out there.

Low back pain is the leading cause of disability globally (8).

Goodman wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that some people benefit from Chiropractic care as a treatment for low back pain (9).

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A study published in 2019 by Kazis et al. found that patients that initially sought conservative care for their injuries (Chiropractic Care or Physical Therapy) were less likely to turn to opioids to help relieve their pain (7).

With chiropractic care being a non-pharmacological treatment method, it gives many patients an alternative treatment route that does not immediately lead to medications.

Opioid overdoses accounted for over 49,000 deaths in 2017, leading to the declaration of a public health emergency by the end of that year.

The death rate is still soaring, and any treatment that can help move people towards conservative care for musculoskeletal conditions like low back pain is a step towards reducing the death toll due to opioids.

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In a study by Keeney et al. it was found that about 42% of patients that went to a surgeon for their back pain first had surgery, while only 1.5% of patients that saw a chiropractor first needed surgery in the end (10).

Surgery should be considered a last resort when dealing with back pain according to these Harvard Health recommendations for back pain.

Once the surgery is performed, it can not be undone.

Chiropractic care is a great conservative treatment option to help resolve pain without making permanent surgical changes to the natural structures.

Regarding musculoskeletal conditions, chiropractic care provides many benefits regarding treatment.

A Young Male Athlete Comes in for a Chiropractic Adjustment After Reading Some Recent Harvard Health Recommendations for Back Pain and Conservative Care
Harvard Health Recommendations for Back Pain: Recovery

This conservative treatment method is helping people recover from injuries without using Opioid medications and surgeries, both of which can have harmful side effects and create irreversible changes.

Experts at Harvard Health and in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) list chiropractic among the treatments for low back pain.

Patients that see chiropractors as their initial provider are markedly less likely to get surgery to help relieve their back pain.

Why Harvard Health Recommendations for Back Pain Will Continue to Include Chiropractic

So what does Harvard Health have to say about chiropractic?

Overall, they have a favorable view of chiropractic care.

A Mature Man Visits His Local Chiropractor After Reading Several Harvard Health Recommendations for Back Pain That Included Chiropractic Care
Harvard Heatlh Recommendations for Back Pain: Chirorpactic

The Senior Faculty Editor, Robert H. Shmerling, MD, states in a few articles that chiropractic care would be a possible treatment option for patients in pain.

Like any other article they have published, their information on chiropractic care is well-researched and easy to understand.

Harvard Health consistently recommends chiropractic care as a treatment option for acute low back pain.

A Word About Patient Pilot by The Smart Chiropractor

Are you a chiropractor or chiropractic para professional?

Thanks for reading!

We hope this article reviewing several key Harvard Health recommendations for back pain has given you some great notes to share with your patients regarding the power of conservative care treatment options for low back pain at every stage.

We also hope these Harvard Health recommendations for back pain have motivated you to spread the word about your unique practice and everything you have to offer!

Our team at The Smart Chiropractor is dedicated to making patient communication easier for DCs and their staff through free resources like our blog and our subscription-based patient-education-focused marketing materials and services.

That’s where Patient Pilot comes in.

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Chiropractic Email Marketing Best Practices: Patient Pilot

Our automated email campaigns were designed to help provide patients with a fantastic experience that, in turn, can help fill the holes in your practice’s patient bucket and generates excellent ROI.

Over the past year, our team of chiropractic marketing geeks at The Smart Chiropractor has worked with over 300 practices and sent over 10 million emails.

(And we’re thrilled that our average doctor has seen an 11X ROI from their email marketing efforts!)

There’s one BIG thing we learned from working with practice after practice after practice that we’ve kept in mind as we crafted our recent top 10 list of chiropractic email marketing best practices and our email systems…

Too many chiropractors with holes in their schedule form their marketing strategy around the notion that they have a new patient problem.

However, that’s often NOT the case.

Think of it this way…

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If you have an email list of over 300 patients – that’s 300 local patients that have walked through your doors and experienced your care first hand – it’s not true.

With a list of that size, what you almost certainly do have is a patient retention and reactivation problem.

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