This study found that back manipulation seems to help back pain slightly more than placebo and more than ultrasonography.
The most important point of this article from Reuters, however, was made by Dr. Timothy Carey of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, who said: "The consensus on most of those studies, I think, is that spinal manipulative therapy is better than no treatment and has a modest benefit over a period of time, but is not substantially better than other types of treatment including pain medications (and) exercise recommendations."
COMMENT: by not comparing osteopathic manipulation with standard therapy, the researchers seem to me to come across as biased, with an agenda to promote. The authors report no conflicts of interest but clearly their educational background appears to be resulting in bias. Shame on the Annals of Family Medicine for not reporting such a glaring conflict of interest. They need to do better. Also, it is interesting that so-called "real" back manipulation was only slightly better than "sham" manipulation, i.e. placebo. The full article is here.