Chronic pain is one of the most common reasons Canadians seek medical care. Many people interested in finding alternatives to medication for pain relief are turning to chiropractic treatment. Chiropractic care is one potential pain management option, especially if you’re dealing with back pain, neck pain or chronic tension or migraine headaches. The following article will outline some of the top benefits of receiving chiropractic care.
What is chiropractic care?
Chiropractic care is a form of complementary medicine based on the idea that your body can heal itself with the help of specific hands-on manipulations from a trained professional. These manipulations help realign your joints and can potentially lead to pain relief.
Chiropractic treatment may help relieve pain from conditions affecting:
- Connective tissue
Chiropractic treatment often focuses on your spine but may focus on other parts of your body depending on the particular issue you’re dealing with.
Chiropractic treatment has some similarities with physical therapy, and certain conditions may benefit from being treated with both types of therapy.
In general, chiropractors are more likely to use hands-on manipulations as part of the treatment plan, while physical therapists tend to utilize stretches and exercises.
What are the benefits of chiropractic care?
1. Improves neck pain
Neck pain is a common problem, especially if you sit for many hours a day, frequently bend your neck to use your phone, or have poor posture. A chiropractor may help ease your neck pain by realigning your spine and easing tension in your neck muscles.
An older 2012 study found that 12 weeks of spinal manipulation was more effective than medication at treating non-specific neck pain in a group of 272 adults at 8-, 12-, 26-, and 52-week follow-ups.
A 2019 study found that cervical spine manipulation may help decrease neck pain in the short-term by modifying levels of neuropeptides in your blood. Neuropeptides are proteins made in your nervous system that function as neurotransmitters or hormones.
2. Reduces reliance on opioid pain killers
People with chronic pain are often given prescriptions for opioid pain killers to help manage their discomfort. However, undergoing chiropractic treatment may lower your need to take these pain killers.
A large 2020 study compared the number of prescriptions for opioid pain killers filled for adults who visited just their medical doctor or who visited both a chiropractor and their medical doctor to treat spinal pain.
The study found that adults who visited a chiropractor were less likely to get an opioid prescription filled for their pain compared to those who only saw their medical doctor.
3. Eases back pain
Chiropractic treatment may be a good alternative to more invasive alternatives like surgery or injections for treating short-term or chronic back pain.
The American College of Physicians recommends that doctors encourage people with chronic low back pain to first seek non-medication treatments before taking medication to treat their pain. Some of the treatment options recommended include:
4. Possible reduction of osteoarthritis symptoms
Osteoarthritis is a chronic pain syndrome which involves a cycle of physical changes in the joint ligaments, cartilage, and underlying bone which are perpetuated by local changes in inflammation as well as inflammation in the nervous system. It is no longer known as simply a condition of ‘wear and tear’ to the joints of the body.
Chiropractic adjustments improve mechanics of the joint which can serve to reduce mechanical irritation. Furthermore, the nervous system effect of an adjustment has the ability to reduce the perception of pain in the brain. Though there is not evidence that adjustments are able to reverse all the degenerative changes in the joint, it can help improve movement and reduce pain levels.
5. Eases headache symptoms
Spinal manipulation may be effective at treating tension headaches and headaches that originate in your neck.
A 2016 study found that 6 to 8 sessions of cervical and upper thoracic spine manipulation were more effective than movement and exercise for relieving pain in people with chronic headaches. This was still the case at a 3-month follow-up.
6. More affordable treatment for chronic back pain
Chiropractic treatment may be a cheaper alternative to conventional treatment for chronic low back pain.
In a 2016 study, researchers looked at the potential financial benefits of chiropractic treatment for Medicare recipients with chronic back pain.
The researchers found that people who received chiropractic treatment had a lower overall treatment cost. The study also determined that their treatment duration was shorter than that of those who had conventional medical treatment.
7. High satisfaction
Studies have generally reported relatively high levels of satisfaction with chiropractic treatment.
For example, in a 2015 study, researchers found that a group of 544 people in chiropractic care reported a high level of satisfaction.
Also, 92 percent of the people in this study had improvements in their pain, and 80 percent reported improvements in their ability to move around.
8. Helps improve posture
Undergoing chiropractic treatment may potentially help correct poor posture, especially if your poor posture is caused by too much sitting.
Adjustments improve flexibility of the spine and activate proprioceptors that help the brain see the body better, and therefore activate postural muscles more appropriately. Combined with home care stretching and strengthening exercises, posture can improve dramatically and you will have more energy as your body is working more efficiently.
9. May help athletic performance
Spinal adjustments may potentially improve your athletic performance. This could be due to increased joint mobility, reduced pain, and less tissue restriction. Improved proprioception following adjustments may also contribute to improved athletic performance.
Chiropractic adjustments may be effective when used to deal with pain caused by an injury.
The bottom line
Chiropractors use hands-on adjustments to reduce pain and help your body heal itself. They work on issues throughout the body, not only the spine.
Research has found that chiropractic adjustments may be an effective treatment for various forms of neck or back pain. Seeing a chiropractor may also lower your need to take pain killers or undergo more invasive treatments like surgery.