What Are the Benefits of Trying Chiropractic Care for Pain Relief?

What Are the Benefits of Trying Chiropractic Care for Pain Relief?

What Are the Benefits of Trying Chiropractic Care for Pain Relief? 

Have you been living with nagging back, neck, or joint pain for months or even years with little relief from traditional treatments like medication or physical therapy? If so, you're not alone - millions of people struggle daily with painful conditions that can take a major toll on quality of life. 

While chiropractic care has traditionally been seen as alternative or controversial by some, an increasing body of research is showing it may provide relief where other options have failed. Chiropractors work with the body's natural abilities to heal itself through gentle spinal manipulation and other hands-on techniques. Rather than just masking pain signals with drugs, chiropractic aims to alleviate pain at its underlying source. 

If your normal pain management plan isn't working, it may be time to consider exploring chiropractic. In this article, we'll take a look at some of the surprising benefits patients frequently report from chiropractic care. From reduced discomfort to improved mobility and function, chiropractic may unlock a side of natural pain relief you never knew your body was capable of. Keep reading to find out if adding chiropractic adjustments to your wellness routine could be the key to finally experiencing life without constant, lingering pain. 

What is Chiropractic Care? 

Chiropractic care is a form of complementary medicine based on the idea that the body has an innate ability to heal itself when the musculoskeletal system is properly aligned. Chiropractors use hands-on manipulations, known as adjustments, to realign the spine and other joints, relieving pressure on the nerves and promoting optimal function. 

While chiropractic treatment primarily focuses on the spine, it can also address issues with the bones, cartilage, connective tissue, joints, and muscles throughout the body. Chiropractic care shares some similarities with physical therapy, but chiropractors tend to rely more heavily on manual manipulations, while physical therapists often emphasize exercises and stretches for rehabilitation. 

The Benefits of Chiropractic Care for Pain Relief

1. Improved Neck Pain

Neck pain is a prevalent issue, particularly for those who spend long hours sitting, frequently bend their necks to use phones or computers, or have poor posture. A chiropractor can help alleviate neck pain by realigning the spine and reducing tension in the neck muscles. 

A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2012 found that 12 weeks of spinal manipulation was more effective than medication in treating non-specific neck pain in a group of 272 adults. The study evaluated participants at 8, 12, 26, and 52-week follow-ups[1]

Another study from 2019, published in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, found that cervical spine manipulation may help decrease neck pain in the short term by modifying levels of neuropeptides (proteins involved in neurotransmission and hormone function) in the blood[2]

  1. Reduced Reliance on Opioid Pain Relievers 

Individuals with chronic pain are often prescribed opioid pain relievers to manage their discomfort. However, undergoing chiropractic treatment may lower the need for these potentially addictive medications. 

A large-scale study published in the journal Pain Medicine in 2020 compared the number of opioid prescriptions filled by adults who visited only their doctor versus those who visited both a chiropractor and their doctor to treat spinal pain. The study found that adults who saw a chiropractor were less likely to fill an opioid prescription for their pain compared to those who only saw their doctor[3]

  1. Eased Back Pain 

Chiropractic treatment may be an excellent alternative to more invasive options like surgery or injections for treating short-term or chronic back pain. 

The American College of Physicians recommends that doctors encourage patients with chronic low back pain to seek non-medication treatments before turning to medication. Some of the recommended treatment options include spinal manipulation (chiropractic care), exercise, acupuncture, yoga, tai chi, progressive muscle relaxation, and meditation[4]

A 2017 review of studies published in the journal Spine found that spinal manipulation was associated with moderate improvements in short-term back pain and function compared to placebo treatment for up to six weeks[5]

  1. Potential Reduction of Osteoarthritis Symptoms 

Osteoarthritis pain is caused by the degeneration of cartilage in a joint, leading to bone-on-bone friction. Certain chiropractic adjustments may help align the joints and reduce this friction.

While research on the benefits of chiropractic manipulation for osteoarthritis is limited, a 2020 animal study published in the Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association found evidence that chiropractic manipulation may help slow the progression of arthritis by improving the condition of cartilage, bone, and the joint capsule[6]

  1. Eased Headache Symptoms 

Spinal manipulation may be effective in treating tension headaches and headaches originating from the neck area. 

A 2016 study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found that six to eight sessions of cervical and upper thoracic spine manipulation were more effective than movement and exercise in relieving chronic headache pain. The benefits were still apparent at a three-month follow-up[7]

  1. More Affordable Treatment for Chronic Back Pain 

Chiropractic treatment may be a more cost-effective alternative to conventional medical treatment for chronic low back pain. 

In a 2016 study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, researchers examined the potential financial benefits of chiropractic treatment for Medicare recipients with chronic back pain. They found that individuals who received chiropractic treatment had lower overall treatment costs and shorter treatment durations compared to those who received conventional medical treatment[8]

  1. High Patient Satisfaction 

Studies have generally reported relatively high levels of satisfaction with chiropractic treatment. 

For example, a 2015 study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found that a group of 544 individuals receiving chiropractic care reported high levels of satisfaction. Additionally, 92% of the participants experienced improvements in their pain, and 80% reported improvements in their ability to move around[9]

  1. Reduced Scoliosis Symptoms 

Chiropractic care may help improve the Cobb angle, a measurement of the side-to-side curvature of the spine, in individuals with scoliosis. 

A 2016 study published in the Journal of Pediatric, Maternal & Family Health examined the effects of chiropractic treatment on five children with scoliosis. After eight weeks of treatment, the researchers observed noticeable improvements in the Cobb angle, with improvements evident as early as four weeks[10].

  1. Improved Posture 

Undergoing chiropractic treatment may potentially help correct poor posture, especially if the poor posture is caused by prolonged sitting. 

A 2017 case study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science examined the effect of chiropractic treatment on a 27-year-old woman suffering from back pain, neck pain, and headaches caused by hyperkyphosis (an exaggerated forward curvature of the upper back, commonly known as a hunchback posture). After 30 treatments over six months, the woman showed significant improvements in her posture and relief from head and neck pain[11]

  1. Potential Enhancement of Athletic Performance 

Spinal adjustments may potentially improve athletic performance due to increased joint mobility, reduced pain, and less tissue restriction. 

However, the evidence on whether spinal adjustments directly improve sports performance is still inconclusive. A 2019 review of studies published in the Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association found that spinal adjustments did not improve performance in asymptomatic individuals (those without symptoms). Nevertheless, chiropractic adjustments may be effective when used to address pain or injuries that could impede athletic performance[12]

The Training and Certification of Chiropractors 

To practice chiropractic care, individuals must earn a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree, a postgraduate program that typically takes four years to complete. Admission to a chiropractic program requires at least 90 semester hours of undergraduate coursework, and some programs require a bachelor's degree. 

All states in the United States require chiropractors to be licensed, although licensing requirements vary from state to state. Generally, chiropractors must pass the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners exams to obtain licensure. 

Some chiropractors choose to specialize in a particular area of chiropractic treatment and pursue additional residency training for several more years. 

According to the American Chiropractic Association, there are currently more than 70,000 licensed chiropractors in the United States[13]

How to Find a Qualified Chiropractor 

If you're considering chiropractic care for pain relief, it's essential to find a qualified and reputable chiropractor in your area. Here are some tips to help you in your search:

  1. Ask for recommendations: Consult your primary care physician, physical therapist, or other healthcare providers for recommendations. You can also ask friends, coworkers, or family members if they have any chiropractors they trust. 
  2. Check for proper licensing: Ensure that the chiropractor you're considering is licensed by your state's chiropractic board. 
  3. Use online resources: The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) website can help you find a qualified chiropractor, try using the American Chiropractic Association’s “Find a Doctor tool”. 
  4. Schedule a consultation: Before committing to treatment, schedule a consultation with the chiropractor to assess if they are a good fit for your needs. Don't feel obligated to continue with a chiropractor if you're uncomfortable or have doubts after the initial consultation. It's perfectly acceptable to consult with multiple chiropractors before deciding on the best one for you. 

Conclusion 

While chiropractic care may not relieve all types of painful conditions, for many who have tried it, it provides pain relief and functional improvements where other options came up short. The gentler, natural approach aims to give your body the chance to heal itself from within. 

If you've been needlessly suffering with back, neck, joint, or muscle pain for months or years, isn't it worth taking advantage of your body's innate ability to heal? Chiropractic is a safe and drug-free option that could finally silence those nagging pain signals and allow you to feel like yourself again. 

The next time pain flares up, consider scheduling an initial consultation with a licensed chiropractor before reaching for medication or resigning yourself to a life of discomfort. You may be pleasantly surprised by how naturally effective chiropractic techniques can be. With possibly improved mobility, less pain interfering with daily tasks, and better overall health and wellness, chiropractic care could very well be the change your painful situation has needed. Don't suffer in silence any longer - it may be time to see if chiropractic holds the key to better days ahead without constant pain. 

References: 

[1] “Spinal Manipulation, Medication, or Home Exercise with Advice for Acute and Subacute Neck Pain: A Randomized Trial: Annals of Internal Medicine: Vol 156, No 1_Part_1.” Annals of Internal Medicine, 2024, 

www.acpjournals.org/doi/10.7326/0003-4819-156-1-201201030-00002?aimhp=& 

[2] Lohman, E B et al. “The immediate effects of cervical spine manipulation on pain and biochemical markers in females with acute non-specific mechanical neck pain: a randomized

clinical trial.” The Journal of manual & manipulative therapy vol. 27,4 (2019): 186-196. doi:10.1080/10669817.2018.1553696 

[3] Whedon, James M et al. “Impact of Chiropractic Care on Use of Prescription Opioids in Patients with Spinal Pain.” Pain medicine (Malden, Mass.) vol. 21,12 (2020): 3567-3573. doi:10.1093/pm/pnaa014 

[4] “Noninvasive Treatments for Acute, Subacute, and Chronic Low Back Pain: A Clinical Practice Guideline from the American College of Physicians | Annals of Internal Medicine.” Annals of Internal Medicine, 2017, 

www.acpjournals.org/doi/10.7326/M16-2367?_ga=2.42638765.989304429.1608757113-135787 3115.1608757113&. 

[5] Paige, Neil M et al. “Association of Spinal Manipulative Therapy With Clinical Benefit and Harm for Acute Low Back Pain: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.” JAMA vol. 317,14 (2017): 1451-1460. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.3086 

[6] Conesa-Buendía, F M et al. “Beneficial effects of manually assisted chiropractic adjusting instrument in a rabbit model of osteoarthritis.” Scientific reports vol. 10,1 13237. 6 Aug. 2020, doi:10.1038/s41598-020-70219-3 

[7] Dunning, James R., et al. “Upper Cervical and Upper Thoracic Manipulation versus Mobilization and Exercise in Patients with Cervicogenic Headache: A Multi-Center Randomized Clinical Trial.” BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, vol. 17, no. 1, BioMed Central, Feb. 2016, https://doi.org/10.1186/s12891-016-0912-3. 

[8] Weeks, William B., et al. “The Association between Use of Chiropractic Care and Costs of Care among Older Medicare Patients with Chronic Low Back Pain and Multiple Comorbidities.” Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, vol. 39, no. 2, Elsevier BV, Feb. 2016, pp. 63-75.e2, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmpt.2016.01.006. 

[9] MacPherson, Hugh et al. “Patients' experiences and expectations of chiropractic care: a national cross-sectional survey.” Chiropractic & manual therapies vol. 23,1 3. 16 Jan. 2015, doi:10.1186/s12998-014-0049-0 

[10] Byun, Sunghak, and Dongwook Han. “The effect of chiropractic techniques on the Cobb angle in idiopathic scoliosis arising in adolescence.” Journal of physical therapy science vol. 28,4 (2016): 1106-10. doi:10.1589/jpts.28.1106 

[11] Fortner, Miles O et al. “Treating 'slouchy' (hyperkyphosis) posture with chiropractic biophysics®: a case report utilizing a multimodal mirror image® rehabilitation program.” Journal of physical therapy science vol. 29,8 (2017): 1475-1480. doi:10.1589/jpts.29.1475 

[12] Corso, Melissa et al. “The effects of spinal manipulation on performance-related outcomes in healthy asymptomatic adult population: a systematic review of best evidence.” Chiropractic & manual therapies vol. 27 25. 7 Jun. 2019, doi:10.1186/s12998-019-0246-y

[13] “Key Facts.” ACA Today, 14 July 2022, 

www.acatoday.org/news-publications/newsroom/key-facts/.

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