WHO Investigates Neck Pain Big-Time

Persistent neck pain makes life miserable for millions of people worldwide, and all too often the advice of conventional physicians is to seek help through surgery. But a huge, years-long international study shows the best way to treat most instances of neck pain is through far less drastic approaches, such as chiropractic.

"This study validates that interventions such as spinal manipulation or spinal adjusting that promote regaining function and a return to work are more beneficial than usual care, sham or alternative interventions," says Gerard W. Clum, president of California-based Life Chiropractic College West and speaking on behalf of the not-for-profit Foundation for Chiropractic Progress.

The study, conducted by the international Neck Pain Task Force of the Bone and Joint Decade of the United Nations' World Health Organization, concluded that surgery is rarely advised - unless the neck pain is marked by consistent radiating pain to the shoulder or arm. The researchers, who worked six years to review more than 1,000 studies, came from 19 medical professions, eight collaborating universities and four countries.

Their report is perhaps the largest on neck pain ever put forth. They propose a new system to classify neck pain, with the vast majority of problems falling into Grade I and Grade II. In Grade III and Grade IV, the problems rise to the truly dangerous level, and are caused by fractures, tumors or spinal cord disease. "A pain in the neck is a common adage for a good reason - it is a widespread, annoying, aggravating and disabling problem affecting up to 70 percent of the population annually," says Clum.

"While this type of condition does not carry the life-or-death reality of a heart attack or cancer, it often undermines a person's quality of life over decades. People often say that time heals all wounds, but neck pain may be an exception that does not resolve well over time. In fact, it tends to worsen over time unless addressed effectively and efficiently."


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