A study looking at this very question compared the effectiveness between medical and chiropractic intervention. Over a 4-year time frame, 2780 patients were followed with questionnaires. Low Back Pain patients were treated using conventional approaches by both MDs (Medical Doctors) and DCs (Doctors of Chiropractic).
Chiropractic treatments included spinal manipulation, physical therapy, an exercise plan, and self-care education.
Medical therapies included prescription drugs, an exercise plan, self-care advice and about 25% of the patients received physical therapy.
The study focused on present pain severity and functional disability (activity interference) measured by questionnaires mailed to the patients. It was reported that Chiropractic was favored over medical treatment in pain relief in the first 12 months (more evident in the chronic patients), when LBP pain radiated below the knee (more evident in the chronic patients) and in chronic LBP patients with no leg pain (during the first 3 months)