A military study done in part by Dr. Christine Goertz, Davenport, is evaluating the effectiveness of treating back pain with a combination of chiropractic manipulative therapy and standard medical care.

Goertz, vice chancellor for research and health policy at Palmer College of Chiropractic, Davenport, led an initial study of 91 active-duty military personnel, ages 18-35 years old.

That first study showed that a group of soldiers who received traditional care alone did not fare as well in reducing pain. In fact, 73 percent of those who had both chiropractic and standard care reported their back pain was gone, compared to 17 percent of those who were in the group who only received standard care.

"Muskoskeletal issues are a huge issue for the U.S. Department of Defense," Goertz said. Soldiers who served in the Middle East often lugged heavy backpacks through some of the hottest weather conditions in the world.

While the initial study offered promising results, Goertz said a larger study is underway. At the same time, the Palmer research team is working with other scientists and medical doctors in studying the effects of chiropractic treatments on adults over 65 years old.

The military study is named "Assessment of Chiropractic Treatment for Low Back Pain and Smoking Cessation in Military Active-Duty Personnel." The study on seniors is "Collaborative Care for Older Adults with Back Pain."

Questions like this are being asked: What happens if you add chiropractic care to standard medical care? Do you get better results if your medical doctor and your doctor of chiropractic work together in treating your lower back pain?

The two studies are at different stages in development: The military study is underway in Pensacola, Fla., Bethesda, Md. and San Diego, Calif. Researchers are about 20 percent into recruitment for this study, Goertz said.

The study on older residents is finishing up, and results may be released later this summer.

Lower back pain is a serious problem in the world, and should be given a high priority in health care, Goertz said. Well done studies have shown lower back pain to be a top cause of morbidity in the world.

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"We have to pay more attention to this topic, from both a research and a clinical perspective," she said.