The use of chiropractic care has become very popular in the general public. In past years chiropractor’s were used almost exclusively for back pain and headaches. Because chiropractors work almost exclusively on the spine many people have come to believe that chiropractors are a back specialist. Unfortunately this is not true- chiropractors are musculo-skeletal and nervous system specialists who can help patients with their back pain but also with their neck pain, headaches and even extremity joint pain.
Chiropractors work under the theory that given the right circumstances, situation and nutritional support the body will heal itself. The responsibility, as chiropractors view it, is to relieve any undue pressure on the nerve endings that are exiting the spinal column. By allowing sufficient nervous system control of the body, cells and tissues, the chiropractor helps the body to work towards self-healing, naturally.
Individuals who seek the care of a chiropractor will find that they undergo neck and back adjustments. These adjustments often result in loud popping sounds and slight contortions of the body as the chiropractor exerts pressure on muscle and the spinal column. Before their first adjustment many individuals are concerned that a spinal adjustment will be painful. But, done correctly by a experienced chiropractor these adjustments are far from painful and actually often bring immediate relief.
While these adjustments are safe in the hands of an experienced chiropractor they should never be done by an individual of another profession. Be aware that other professionals such as massage therapists or ” healers” may make similar claims but without the qualifications and experience of a chiropractor, they could do more damage than good.
In 1993 the Ontario Ministry of Health commissioned a study which found that there was no clinical or case controlled study that demonstrated or implied that chiropractic spinal manipulation was unsafe. In the treatment of low back pain some medical treatments are equally as safe but the literature suggested that chiropractic manipulation is safer than medical management of low back pain. In 1994 the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research of the US Department of Health and Human Services released clinical practice guidelines for the management of low back pain. Their findings included that the risk of serious complication from lumbar spinal manipulation was rare and that conservative treatment such as spinal manipulation should be pursued in most cases before considering surgical intervention.
Chiropractors use specific adjustments in order to provid a patient some relief of pain and stiffness in the neck, shoulders, back, arms, hands, chest, head, legs and feet as well as treat certain types of headaches, sciatica and scoliosis. People who suffer from sports injuries and musculoskeletal injuries such as tennis elbow and sprained joints and ligaments can also greatly benefit from the services of a chiropractor. This is why most professional sports teams now have a chiropractor on the team training staff.
While chiropractors believe and emphasize that the first response should be non-surgical and non-invasive they are also trained to recognize when an injury is outside the scope of their practice. The question of the safety of spinal manipulation is one that must be answered on an individual basis. Most chiropractors will consult with you to explain all the information and options before proceeding with your treatment protocol.