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Trager, JR., Cupler, AZ., Srinivasan, R., Casselberry, MR., Perez, AJ., Dusek, AJ. (2023) 'Association between chiropractic spinal manipulation and gabapentin prescription in adults with radicular low back pain: retrospective cohort study using US data', BMJ Open.2023 Jul 21;13(7):e073258

BMJ Open.2023 Jul 21;13(7):e073258

Association between chiropractic spinal manipulation and gabapentin prescription in adults with radicular low back pain: retrospective cohort study using US data

Robert J Trager, Zachary A Cupler, Roshini Srinivasan, Regina M Casselberry, Jaime A Perez, Jeffery A Dusek

Abstract:

Objectives: Radicular low back pain (rLBP) is often treated off-label with gabapentin or by chiropractors using chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy (CSMT). To date, no studies have examined the association between these interventions. We hypothesised that adults under 50 years of age receiving CSMT for newly diagnosed rLBP would have reduced odds of receiving a gabapentin prescription over 1 year-follow-up. Design: Retrospective cohort study. Setting: US network including linked medical records, medical claims and pharmacy claims of >122 million patients attending large healthcare organisations (TriNetX), queried 15 June 2023, yielding data from 2017 to 2023. Participants: Adults aged 18-49 were included at their first occurrence of rLBP diagnosis. Exclusions were severe pathology, other spinal conditions, on-label gabapentin indications and gabapentin contraindications. Propensity score matching controlled for variables associated with gabapentin use and receipt of prescription medication over the preceding year. Interventions: Patients were divided into CSMT or usual medical care cohorts based on the care received on the index date of rLBP diagnosis. Primary and secondary outcome measures: OR for gabapentin prescription. Results: After propensity matching, there were 1635 patients per cohort (mean age 36.3±8.6 years, 60% women). Gabapentin prescription over 1-year follow-up was significantly lower in the CSMT cohort compared with the usual medical care cohort, with an OR (95% CI) of 0.53 (0.40 to 0.71; p<0.0001). Sensitivity analyses revealed early divergence in cumulative incidence of prescription; and no significant between-cohort difference in a negative control outcome (gastrointestinal medication) suggesting adequate control for pharmacological care preference. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that US adults receiving CSMT for newly diagnosed rLBP have significantly reduced odds of receiving a gabapentin prescription over 1-year follow-up compared with those receiving usual medical care. Results may not be generalisable and should be replicated in other healthcare settings and corroborated by a prospective study to reduce confounding.

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