Naprapathy works better on back and neck trouble than recommended and proven effective advice from doctors, according to a new study from Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet. The study is the first major investigation into naprapathy - and opens up possibilities for its integration into regular treatments.
Naprapathy is a special system for restoring functionality and reducing pain in muscles and joints. The therapy is manual, with the naprapath using manipulation and mobilisation of the spine and other joints, and muscle treatments such as stretching and massage. Treatments are often complemented with different kinds of physical exercise and advice.
Eva Skillgate, postgraduate student at the Department of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, has compared the efficacy of naprapathy with that of medical advice in accordance with the guidelines that had previously proved most effective against back and neck pain. The results, published in the Clinical Journal of Pain, show distinct differences in favour of naprapathy.
In the study of 409 patients, the researchers compared two groups of people with back and neck problems. Following a medical examination to eliminate serious conditions, the patients were randomly assigned to two therapeutic alternatives. Half of the patients were treated by a naprapath and half received advice and support from doctors with the aim of strengthening their belief in their own ability to deal with the complaint. The advice encouraged the patients to move, despite any pain, and to live as normal a life as possible.
Twelve weeks after study start, 57% in the naprapathy group stated that were 'very much better' compared with 13 % in the control group. 69% in the naprapathy and 42% in the control group had a clinically important decrease in pain, and 19% in the naprapathy group and 7% in the control group was totally recovered twelve weeks after the study had started. Separate analysis of neck pain and back pain patients showed similar results. For the majority of the patients the pain/disability had lasted for more than one year.
"The study looked at a very common type of back and neck complaint," says Eva Skillgate. "The trial adds to the knowledge that recommending a combination of manual therapies, as naprapathic manual therapy, may be an alternative to consider in primary healthcare for patients with back and neck pain."
"Naprapathic Manual Therapy or Evidence-Based Care for Back and Neck Pain; A Randomized, Controlled Trial"
Eva Skillgate, Eva Vingård, Lars Alfredsson
Clinical Journal of Pain, May 2007, 23:431-439
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