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Treating back pain in military recruits

by Rodney Tanaka

August 23, 2005

Read 2 mins

Many of us have probably experienced back pain at some point in our

life. But imagine being on active duty with the United States military

and having a back ache with no immediate relief in sight.

Dr. Michael Seffinger, an associate professor in the osteopathic

manipulation medicine department of COMP, is set to work with other

researchers to find a solution. He will do this as part of a pilot study,

scheduled to begin in the fall at Fort Benning, Ga.

He was awarded a $174,206 grant from the Samueli Institute for

Informational Biology for his research, which is part of the

Complementary and Alternative Medicine Research for Military Operations

and Healthcare (MIL-CAM) program.

Dr. Seffinger says he and researchers from University California,

Irvine and UCLA are striving to discover which combination of treatments

already being offered to military active duty military personnel is most

effective for acute low back pain.

The goal of the study, which will compare standard medical care with

or without spinal manipulation, is to find out which of these treatments

will result in decreased pain with movement, faster recovery from

functional limitations, and quicker return to work.

“”Treating lower back pain has become a priority for the military

because a high rate of young recruits report lower back pain following

basic training,”” he says. “”We want to be able to get them fit and back to

duty as quickly as possible.””

According to Dr. Seffinger, there have yet to be any studies of

people in their 20s who are well-conditioned physically and suffer from

lower back pain.

He adds that this first-of-a-kind clinical trial also has

implications for the general public, which often doesn’t receive

manipulation until the problem becomes chronic six weeks later.

“”The question is whether manipulation should be used sooner than

later,”” he says. “”We believe the early treatment is important.””


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