Harvard Health strongly recommends chiropractic care for back problems; shouldn’t your doctor do this too?

Harvard Health Publishing strongly recommends chiropractic care for back problems; shouldn’t your doctor do this too?

Being a chiropractor for 38 years hasn’t been easy, as we always seem to be the underdogs of quality affordable musculoskeletal health care. For many educated consumers, we offered a holistic approach to pain, function, and quality of life that works and has been backed up by study after study.

Harvard Health, Consumer Reports, and other publications have also recommended our profession as it has matured into what it has become today.

Considering all this, why isn’t your local doctor recommending chiropractic care for all of his patients who have neck, shoulder, knee, back, and even foot problems? Chiropractic approaches for many have become the first line of treatment to avoid ineffective or unproven and risky invasive methods such as injections, surgeries, and therapies that were one size fits all protocols.  Many doctors are now seeking out chiropractic care for themselves after their experiences in their own profession have been less than stellar.

Many patients are willing to pay cash for the results obtained from chiropractic care even when their insurance company creates artificial roadblocks to care.

Who is Harvard Health Publishing

Harvard Health Publishing is a part of Harvard Medical School, providing information to the public on various topics, including common conditions, tips for staying healthy, access to health resources, and a collection of blogs on various topics including Harvard Health recommendations for back pain.

Harvard Health is working to provide its audience with the most trustworthy information (1).  It is important to understand that as a branch of Harvard Medical School, the articles published here can draw on the knowledge of over 11,000 physicians from the Medical School and the affiliated hospitals.

This site has pages of information on any health topic you can think of, so what did they have to say about Chiropractic care?

Chiropractic Care for Pain Relief

Harvard Health Publishing posted an article giving a quick overview of chiropractic care and some treatment options some chiropractors chose to employ as part of the growing collection of Harvard Health recommendations for back pain.

This article showed a great understanding of the goals of chiropractic, citing: “The ultimate goal of chiropractic is to help relieve pain and help patients better manage their condition at home” (2).

As a chiropractor, my goal is always to get my patients out of pain and prevent their injuries from returning with active care exercises and changes to their posture (among other things).

This article was well-researched and included many newer trends in chiropractic, such as working in an integrative health care system.

This author credits chiropractors with working on any joint in the body but attributes chiropractors with specializing in spinal manipulations.

Though this article was kept short and sweet, it hits the significant aspects of chiropractic care and easily conveys how chiropractors help relieve pain through various treatment methods making it a worthy inclusion on the list of Harvard Health recommendations for back pain.

Should You See a Chiropractor for Your Low Back Pain?

This article, written by the Senior Faculty Editor Robert H. Shmerling, MD, outlines the role of chiropractic care in low back pain and reviews some of the research on chiropractic care.

Looking at a study from 2018 centering around military members that are experiencing low back pain, Dr. Shmerling reports that members that received chiropractic care “reported less pain intensity, experienced less disability and more improvement in function, reported higher satisfaction with their treatment, and needed less pain medicine” (3).

Like any other study, there is room for improvement.

The limitations of this study leave the door open for many other studies into the benefits of chiropractic care.

This study still supports chiropractic care for treating low back pain.

Dr. Shmerling concludes this article by stating, “This won’t be — and shouldn’t be — the last study of chiropractic care for low back pain. But until we know more, I’ll continue to offer it as one of many treatment options” (3).

What Else Does Harvard Health Recommend for Back Pain?

Harvard Health has a vast library of back pain-related topics.

Anything you want to know about pain, exercises, lifestyle changes, and nutrition.

Conservative treatments, in addition to chiropractic care, include acupuncture, massage, and physical therapy.

Harvard Health Publishing even features of an article on home remedies for back pain, which provides for heating the area, stretching, and incorporating exercises into your daily routine to help keep you out of pain in the future.

What Does the Research Say About Chiropractic?

Harvard Health covers an expanse of topics in the healthcare field.

With the vast number of issues they cover, it is unsurprising that chiropractic care is only referenced a few times.

Many chiropractic studies have focused on various topics, from neck and low back pain to cost-effectiveness.

This is just a glimpse at some of the results from the studies that are out there.

Low back pain is the leading cause of disability globally (8).

Goodman wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that some people benefit from Chiropractic care as a treatment for low back pain (9).

With chiropractic care being a non-pharmacological treatment method, it gives many patients an alternative treatment route that does not immediately lead to medications.

Opioid overdoses accounted for over 49,000 deaths in 2017, leading to the declaration of a public health emergency by the end of that year.

The death rate is still soaring, and any treatment that can help move people towards conservative care for musculoskeletal conditions like low back pain is a step towards reducing the death toll due to opioids.

Surgery should be considered a last resort when dealing with back pain according to these Harvard Health recommendations for back pain.

Once the surgery is performed, it can not be undone.

Chiropractic care is a great conservative treatment option to help resolve pain without making permanent surgical changes to the natural structures.

Regarding musculoskeletal conditions, chiropractic care provides many benefits regarding treatment.

This conservative treatment method is helping people recover from injuries without using Opioid medications and surgeries, both of which can have harmful side effects and create irreversible changes.

Experts at Harvard Health and in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) list chiropractic among the treatments for low back pain.

Patients that see chiropractors as their initial provider are markedly less likely to get surgery to help relieve their back pain.

Why Harvard Health Recommendations for Back Pain Will Continue to Include Chiropractic

So what does Harvard Health have to say about chiropractic?

Overall, they have a favorable view of chiropractic care

The Senior Faculty Editor, Robert H. Shmerling, MD, states in a few articles that chiropractic care would be a possible treatment option for patients in pain.

Like any other article they have published, their information on chiropractic care is well-researched and easy to understand.

Harvard Health consistently recommends chiropractic care as a treatment option for acute low back pain.


  1. About Us. Harvard Health Publishing. 2022.
  2. Chiropractic Care for Pain Relief. Harvard Health Publishing. 2021.
  3. Should You See a Chiropractor for Low Back Pain? Harvard Health Publishing. 2019.
  4. Help for Your Aching Back. Harvard Health Publishing. 2021.
  5. Here’s Something Completely Different for Low Back Pain. Harvard Health Publishing. 2020.
  6. Don’t Take Back Pain Sitting Down. Harvard Health Publishing. 2020.
  7. Observational Retrospective Study of the Association of Initial Healthcare Provider for New-Onset Low Back Pain With Early and Long-Term Opioid Use. BMJ. 2020.
  8. Global Low Back Pain Prevalence and Years Lived With Disability From 1990 to 2017: Estimates From the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017. Ann Transl Med. 2020.
  9. Low Back Pain. JAMA. 2013.
  10. What Research Shows About Chiropractic. ACA. 2019.

Book online here to find out how we can relieve your back pain and help you feel better in as little as one visit.