When you have a pain the first thing you’ll probably reach for is a pain killer, but a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine finds you probably shouldn’t be so quick to pop a pill.
For three months, researchers tracked more than 270 people suffering from recent-onset neck pain who tried one of three treatment methods: medication, exercise or a chiropractor over a 12-week period.
Participants were measured at 2, 4, 8, 12, 26, and 52 weeks after treatment. Compared to those who relied on medicine, people who used a chiropractor or exercised were more than twice as likely to be pain-free weeks later.
Patients who went to chiropractors or exercised also reported improvements in self-reported disabilities, medication use, general health status and adverse events. Many patients preferred seeing a chiropractor over exercising.
Adverse events were listed as musculoskeletal pain, and less frequently they experienced paresthesia, stiffness, headache, and crepitus. In cases of exercise or spinal manipulation by a chiropractor 40 percent reported adverse events; 60 percent of patients on medication reported adverse events.
Dr. Lee Green, professor of family medicine at the University of Michigan, is unsurprised. “Neck pain is a mechanical problem, and it makes sense that mechanical treatment works better than a chemical one,” he said in an interview with ABC News.