Diagnostic imaging does not lead to better clinical outcomes for patients who visit a chiropractor for their lower back pain, according to research published in Chiropractic & Manual Therapies.
Among more than 2,000 individuals, including nearly one-quarter referred for imaging, radiological examination did not result in improved pain levels. In fact, those who did undergo imaging had slightly more intense back pain during follow-up, but the changes were not clinically relevant, the authors noted.
Providers continue to order imaging for such pain despite international guidelines recommending against this practice. Similarly, many chiropractors believe these guidelines don’t apply to their profession and view X-ray exams, among other tests, as necessary for optimal care.
Hazel J. Jenkins, with Macquarie University’s Faculty of Medicine in Australia, and colleagues say their findings suggest otherwise.
“The results of this study support that recommendations from current clinical guidelines for the use of imaging for low back pain are equally relevant for patients presenting for chiropractic care as for those patients presenting to other health professionals,” the authors added.