Over 35 million Americans receive chiropractic care every year. A chiropractor is a physician-level practitioner who has attended a four-year doctoral school, and who is trained to deliver chiropractic treatments. Chiropractic care is an effective treatment for several conditions that cause pain and disability.
What is chiropractic care?
Most of all, chiropractic care is a holistic practice that takes a patient-centered approach. This means that chiropractors look at the patient as a whole when treating them, rather than looking at the disease or injury in isolation. Chiropractors view the spine, nervous system, and organs as all being interconnected. A problem with any part of the system will affect all of the other parts of the system, so no disorder should be examined in isolation. Because of this, chiropractic care can involve numerous treatments to help support patients in all areas of their life, as well as in treating the specific problem that needs fixing.
The core treatment provided by chiropractic care is manual therapy. This involves the chiropractor placing their hands on the patient and making quick, precise thrusts to joints in the spine or other areas of the body. These thrusts can cause the audible cracks that many people associate with spinal adjustments. These cracks are caused by gas bubbles popping and are completely harmless.
Other treatments offered by chiropractic care can include:
• mobilization - the chiropractor will gently move the affected joints to improve their functioning
• massage and stretching - these can include a number of different techniques that can help if there is any damage to the soft tissues (tendons, ligaments, muscles, connective tissue)
• therapeutic exercise - the chiropractor will often suggest exercises that can help strengthen the muscles supporting the affected joint, and that will improve the range of motion and stability
• electrotherapy - this can include transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS) and ultrasound
• ice and heat therapy - the ice reduces swelling and inflammation and the heat helps to relax the muscles
• posture advice - many times pain is caused by too much strain being put on particular joints, and help with posture can reduce this pressure
• acupuncture - many chiropractors offer medical acupuncture therapy to help reduce pain
• nutritional advice - healthy eating can help to improve the quality of life and reduce pain and discomfort
Before any treatments start, the chiropractor will take a detailed health assessment of the current condition, medical history, and overall health. They will also conduct a thorough physical examination, which can include blood and urine tests, X-rays, and CT or MRI scans. The chiropractor will use this information to come up with a treatment plan that will best support the patient in improving their life and reducing their pain and disability.
What conditions can chiropractic care help with?
Chiropractors are best known for helping with back and neck pain, and there is a wealth of scientific evidence showing that chiropractic care is a safe and effective treatment of these conditions, but chiropractic care can help with many other health problems. These can include, among others:
• back and neck pain
• shoulder pain
• elbow pain
• hip pain
• pelvic pain
• tension headaches
• anxiety and depression
• sports injuries
Chiropractic care is an approach that treats the entire body to improve patients' quality of life and to reduce their pain and disability. Chiropractors will develop a treatment plan based on a detailed examination of the patients' health and medical history, and which can include several different treatments. Chiropractic care can help to treat and/or manage many health conditions and can reduce the need for invasive surgery or the use of painkillers.