Approximately 30 million people seek chiropractic care every year and, in the majority of cases, people are looking for pain relief. There are a number of reasons why people turn to chiropractic care to relieve their pain, including not being able to get any relief using conventional medicine, a desire to avoid the use of painkiller medication, and not wanting to seek more invasive procedures such as surgery.
Chiropractic care's primary focus is on restoring the body's alignment, with the reasoning that if the spine and/or joints are misaligned, this can restrict movement, cause pain, and place extra pressure on other parts of the musculoskeletal system. This is usually achieved through the physical manipulation of the spine or joints, using short sharp thrusts. This works to free joints that have been restricted by damaged tissue, allowing them to become realigned in their proper position.
Spinal manipulation is only one of many treatments that are offered during chiropractic care, however. Chiropractic care takes a whole-body approach to treatment. Other elements of chiropractic care include:
• posture training
• hot and cold therapy
• nutritional counseling
• trigger point therapy
• active release technique
• ergonomic training
The chiropractic clinician will work closely with the patient, and sometimes their primary care doctor, to come up with a treatment plan that focuses on the root cause of the pain they are experiencing, and how best to manage and treat it for their individual circumstances.
What types of pain can chiropractic care help with?
Lower back pain
Lower back pain has the most evidence showing the effectiveness of chiropractic care and, specifically, spinal manipulation. The American College of Physicians recommends spinal manipulation as an alternative to painkiller drugs for lower back pain.
A combined approach using spinal manipulation as well as exercise and rehabilitation has been shown to be superior to rest and some other physical therapies for the treatment of neck pain (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12372310/).
The most common type of head pain is tension headaches. These are often caused by the contraction of the suboccipital muscles. Spinal manipulation has been found to reduce the frequency of tension headaches (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22364330/) while trigger point therapy has been found to reduce the severity of them (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22364330/).
Fibromyalgia is an all-body pain disorder that can severely reduce its sufferers' quality of life. Chiropractic care that included spinal manipulation, stretching and soft tissue massage has been found to reduce pain levels and improve the range of motion for the cervical, lumbar, and leg areas (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9272472/).
Dealing with pain can be debilitating and it can severely impact people's quality of life. Chiropractic care that includes spinal manipulation, soft tissue therapy, exercise and rehabilitation, and stretching is a treatment option that can help manage a variety of causes of pain, including lower back pain, neck pain, headaches, and fibromyalgia. In managing and reducing pain levels, chiropractic care can lessen the need for more invasive procedures, as well as preventing the need for the patient to be reliant on painkilling drugs.