Exercise and Therapy. Better than medication.

by | Mar 18, 2014 | News Articles

Exercise and therapy can be beneficial in not just controlling medications that treat heart disease but also to prevent us from taking more medications for back pain.   Read on for the scoop.

Exercise seems to be just as effective as medication commonly used to treat heart disease.  As a result, scientists are suggesting that this “group” should be used to compare just how much better a medication is by putting it up against an exercise group.

In a large review published in the British Medical Journal, researchers from Britain’s London School of Economics and Harvard and Stanford universities in the United States found no statistically detectable differences between exercise and drugs for patients with coronary heart disease or pre-diabetes.

It was an even bigger blow to the drug companies when stroke survivors were compared.  They compared the results of 305 studies covering almost 340,000 participants and found taking medication for strokes was LESS beneficial than exercise for recovery.

“In cases where drug options provide only modest benefit, patients deserve to understand the relative impact that physical activity might have on their condition,” the researchers wrote.

The review adds to a large body of evidence showing that regular exercise is key to human health.

SO…What about Therapy??

What do you do when your lower back suddenly starts hurting enough to cause you to miss work and other activities? You may be tempted to try an easy fix by taking the pain medication in your medicine cabinet, but a recent study suggests you may be better off seeing a chiropractor or physiotherapist instead.

A study published in Spine revealed that treating  lower back pain with spinal manipulation therapy is more effective than taking the common over the counter anti inflammatory medication of ibuprophen (advil).

How The Study Was Done

A total of 93 patients with back pain of less than 48 hours entered the study and were randomly assigned to one of three groups:

  • Spinal manipulation group. 35 patients received a standardized spinal manipulation and placebo anti inflammatory
  • Diclofenac Group. 36 patients received 50 mg Diclofenac three times per day along with sham manipulation.
  • Placebo Group. 22 patients received sham manipulation and placebo Diclofenac.

And The Winner is…Chiropractic and Physiotherapy.

Data were collected 12 weeks into the trial to measure self-rated disability, function, time off work, and the number of times a study participant was in enough pain to take a different medication not included in the study (rescue medication).

The main findings after 12 weeks were:

  • Spinal manipulation and Diclofenac were each more effective than placebo. In fact, the placebo group had such a large dropout rate due to high pain levels that investigators closed that arm of the study early.
  • Analysis of the results showed that the group receiving spinal manipulation fared significantly better than the group receiving Diclofenac.

What Does This Mean?

While it is easier to take medication, it is not as effective as seeing a physiotherapist or chiropractor.  This helps in the immediate short term, but also in the long term by educating you on how to prevent it and encourage you to be more active in general for your health.


  1. von Heymann, Wolfgang J. Dr. Med; Schloemer, Patrick Dipl. Math; Timm, Juergen Dr. RER, NAT, PhD; Muehlbauer, Bernd Dr. Med, “Spinal High-Velocity Low Amplitude Manipulation in Acute Nonspecific Low Back Pain: A Double-Blinded Randomized Controlled Trial in Comparison With Diclofenac and Placebo,” Spine, Volume 38, Issue 7.
  2. Dreiser RL, Marty M, Ionescu E, Gold M, Liu JH, “Relief of acute low back pain with Diclofenac-K 12.5 mg tablets: a flexible dose, ibuprofen 200 mg and placebo-controlled clinical trial”, Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther., 2003 Sep;41(9):375-85.

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