Chiropractic Care

A 2017 review of studies found moderate improvements in short-term back pain and function that can be seen for up to six weeks with chiropractic care. (Photos:Pexels)
Many people suffer from chronic pain, particularly in the neck, lower back, and shoulders. As a result, many desperately search for ways to relieve the pain without having to resort to medication. Different forms of physiotherapy have proved to be effective in helping manage pain but finding the right form of physiotherapy requires trial and error. اضافة اعلان

Chiropractic care can be traced back to ancient times, but it was not until the late 19th century that it became truly refined. Recently, chiropractic care became an increasingly popular form of pain management due to the growing overuse of opioid medication, and the American College of Physicians (ACP) also updated their guidelines for the treatment of acute and chronic back pain in 2017.


Their approach now recommends first using non-invasive and non-drug approaches such as chiropractic care to manage pain.

What is chiropractic care?

Chiropractic care is the practice of manipulating the spine or joints through the use of hands or special instruments. The overall goal is to help reduce pain and correct the body’s natural alignment, and improve physical function.

Chiropractic care acts as a complementary form of care to help manage both acute and chronic pain in joints, muscles, or bones. During a chiropractic session, the chiropractor may start with soft-tissue therapy to help relax tight muscles, relieve spasms, and release tension in the connective tissue surrounding muscles.

The main staple of a chiropractic session involves adjustments. A chiropractor will apply a quick, controlled force to a joint that creates a popping or cracking sensation. Afterward, the chiropractor may use a joint bracing or taping technique such as Kinesiology taping in cases of sprained joints or strained muscles, as well as exercises and stretches to help restore and maintain mobility and range of motion.

The treatment is generally considered safe and painless although some may feel discomfort during or soreness after. Chiropractic care can be performed on nearly any part of the body including the head, jaw, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, pelvis, knees, and ankles.

A chiropractor may also recommend other therapies such as nutrition and diet to help with weight control and inflammation, as well as electrical muscle stimulation using transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulators.

What are the benefits?

In terms of research, many studies conflict on results and there is no definitive answer, although the consensus is that there is generally no improvement with chiropractic care in most cases with the exception of lower back pain.

Nevertheless, there are some noticeable subjective improvements and many new studies being carried out to determine what role chiropractic care can play in specific diseases. One of the major benefits of chiropractic care is the potential reduction of reliance on prescription pain relievers, particularly those containing opioids.

A 2020 study found that patients who visited chiropractors were less likely to fill their opioid prescriptions for back pain compared to those that only saw their doctor. Similarly, chiropractic care has shown great potential for reducing lower back pain.

According to the World Health Organization, the lifetime prevalence of common lower back pain is estimated to be 60-70 percent, and the prevalence of back pain in children and adolescents is on the rise.

A 2017 review of studies found moderate improvements in short-term back pain and function that can be seen for up to six weeks with chiropractic care. Additionally, chiropractic care may be a cheaper alternative to conventional treatment options for lower back pain. A 2016 study found that people who see a chiropractor had overall lower treatment costs due to the fact that the treatment duration was shorter than conventional methods of treatment.

Along with benefits to back pain, there are many subjective benefits that can be gained from chiropractic care. For one, many report having fewer headaches, and some research suggests that chiropractic care can help reduce tension headaches and headaches that originate from the neck. Secondly, many individuals report high levels of satisfaction after undergoing chiropractic therapy. Although that is a subjective measurement, one study found that 92 percent reported improvements in their pain, and 80 percent reported improvements in mobility.

Finally, for chiropractic care in the world of athletes, some believe that spinal adjustments may improve athletic performance by increasing joint mobility, reducing pain, and reducing tissue restriction. However, this field of sports medicine is still under investigation and a 2019 review found that there were no significant improvements in those who had no prior symptoms.

Currently, there are many other aspects of chiropractic care that are still being investigated, especially as potential treatment or management therapy for specific diseases. One such example is scoliosis. Scoliosis is a condition in which a sideways curvature forms in the spine. A 2016 study found that after 8 weeks of chiropractic treatment scoliosis was improved, with noticeable improvements seen within 4 weeks of treatment.

Similarly, chiropractic care may also improve posture, especially in cases of hyperkyphosis (hunchback). A 2017 case study found after six months of treatment, which involved 30 sessions, posture in hyperkyphosis can improve alongside some pain relief in the neck and head.

Due to the early stages of research into these specific diseases, it is important to consult a physician prior to starting chiropractic care

What are the risks?

Although chiropractic care is a form of therapy that is non-invasive and does not require medication, there are still risks involved. Fortunately, the risk for serious complications is exceedingly rare and can range from 1 in every 200,000 treatments to 1 in several million treatments.

One serious complication is a vertebrobasilar stroke. The vertebrobasilar artery system is a large and complex system and occlusion of any large vessel may result in disability or death (>85% of cases).  

Another serious potential risk of chiropractic care is disc herniation, specifically cervical and lumbar. A disc herniation is an often painful injury that occurs when the cushions between the individual vertebrae bulge out of line. In some extreme cases, it may result in cauda equina syndrome which is a condition where the spinal nerve root becomes compressed and is considered a surgical emergency. Due to this, it is always important to discuss therapies like chiropractic care with your physician.

For those with preexisting herniated discs, any physical abnormalities such as a fracture, or those with osteoporosis must consult their physician prior to chiropractic therapy as it may carry a higher risk of complications.

Read more Health