Spinal Manipulation vs Spinal Mobilization for Chronic Low Back Pain

Approximately 23% of the population is estimated to suffer from chronic low back pain. This is a significant portion of the population, and finding effective ways to relieve the associated suffering is an important task.

An interesting paper published in the January 2018 edition of the Spine Journal compared spinal manipulation and spinal mobilization as therapies to help relieve chronic low back pain.

In the context of this study spinal manipulation can be defined as moving a spinal joint (or joints) with a quick thrust through its range of motion. Spinal mobilization can defined as moving a spinal joint (or joints) slowly, and repetitively through its range of motion.

The study was a meta-analysis – meaning that it looked at a large number of smaller studies on spinal manipulation and mobilization, compiled the information, and used it to get a bird’s eye view of what the research says about the topic.

What this study found was that both spinal manipulation and spinal mobilization can be effective therapies to help reduce pain and disability in people with chronic low back pain. Further, it found that there is moderate evidence to show that spinal manipulation produces a larger effect than mobilization at both the 3 and 6 month follow-ups. The study also re-confirmed that spinal manipulation and mobilization are safe therapeutic interventions, with few adverse reactions reported in the literature.

What does this mean for you, or for someone you know who suffers from chronic low back pain?

  • It means that spinal manipulation and mobilization can be effective therapies to try.
  • It means that spinal manipulation and mobilization can be safe therapies to try.
  • It means that spinal manipulation may have a better chance of reducing pain, and improving function over spinal mobilization.

Spinal manipulation and mobilization are both therapies that we offer at our clinic. Some people really like the popping/clicking sensation often associated with spinal manipulation, while others prefer the slower, rhythmic sensation of spinal mobilization. When it comes to which therapy we recommend we always suggest to go with the one that you are most comfortable with.

If you would like more information on chronic low back pain, and how you can find relief, please contact us, or give us a call – we’re always happy to chat.

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