Most people, when they hear the word “Chiropractic” immediately think back pain.
That would certainly be the obvious definition, as it is certainly the most effective treatment method for back pain. However, chiropractic physicians effectively treat many other conditions in addition to lower back pain. Neck pain, pain between the shoulder blades, headaches (tension, migraine and cervicogenic) and other joints such as shoulder, elbow, wrist (including carpal tunnel syndrome), hip, knee and ankle respond well to chiropractic treatment. Additionally, some conditions such as asthma and colic and dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps), as well as scoliosis respond well to chiropractic treatment also.
At least part of the reason that many erroneously pigeon hole chiropractic into the treatment of lower back pain is because millions of people have been successfully treated this way. In addition, numerous research studies have demonstrated chiropractic’s effectiveness in the management of back pain.
In 1994, the U.S. government recommended spinal manipulation as an effective treatment for acute back pain. What many do not know, however, is that research is also showing chiropractic care to be very effective in the treatment of the conditions listed above also. Best practice studies also show there is a wealth of studies showing that manipulation is the most effective first line treatment for back pain.
Chiropractic education is very similar to medical education, according to a recent study done by a medical doctor and a chiropractic doctor, both of whom teach in colleges of medicine and chiropractic, differing only in what each emphasizes. Reports otherwise are generally old or biased and not based on actual fact. A comparative study done recently shows that both chiropractic and medicine programs have equal amounts of microbiology, however, chiropractic has more classes in pathology, anatomy and physiology are also more emphasized in chiropractic education. However, there is more emphasis on public health in the medical curriculum.
Chiropractic students spend considerably more time on nutrition. This study shows that chiropractic physicians are well educated to diagnose your problem and to offer an effective treatment plan, or to refer to you the appropriate specialist.
Spinal manipulation is a treatment that is common in chiropractic practice. Ninety-seven percent of all manipulation is performed by these doctors. There are many techniques, and one is not better than the other. The most effective technique is the one that the chiropractic physician is the most comfortable with.
If you are told that only one method will “work” for you, it is not a true statement, and that provider should be avoided. It is the skill of the doctor and not the technique that make manipulation successful. Again, a person should never attempt self-manipulation or allow anyone who does not regularly perform manipulation to attempt it on them. In Florida, only physicians are allowed to perform spinal manipulation by law. Any other type of provider who is attempting to perform manipulation should be reported to their oversight board.
Axial decompression is another very helpful modality that is frequently offered by chiropractic physicians. While equipment may vary from very expensive to less expensive, it is the results that count and not if the equipment is expensive with numerous bells and whistles and with expensive computers attached.
Doctors of chiropractic will use standard orthopedic, neurological and physician examination tests to assess your problem. They are well versed in radiology and will order the appropriate tests to assist in your diagnosis. Most will utilize some form of physical therapy modalities such as traction and ultrasound to assist in your treatment. And chiropractic physicians have been found to be the most consistent in prescribing home care to help to prevent re-injury and to assist in your improvement.
Home care may be, among other things, exercises, changes in activities of daily living (how you stand, sit, or work), nutrition, ice or heat. Many chiropractic physicians are also trained in acupuncture for pain control, homeopathy, naturopathy, and others. Especially since all of the recent studies showing the serious and sometimes deadly side effects related to regular use of anti-inflammatory and over the counter pain medications, many patients are far more interested in finding a treatment for their back pain that does not include drugs or surgery. Other studies are rapidly reporting outstanding results for patients using chiropractic manipulation for treatment of back pain.
Whatever your reason for seeking chiropractic care, it is most important that you participate actively in your care and recovery. If you want to get better quickly and completely, you must remember to perform prescribed exercises, make diet or nutritional changes, make lifestyle changes and keep all healthcare appointments. If you have questions about any aspect of your care, your doctor of chiropractic medicine will welcome the opportunity to clarify reasons, explain treatments, and make your experience a pleasant one.