If you‘ve ever complained of a terrifically sore neck or lingering back pain, I'll bet someone suggested that you see a chiropractor. I visit my chiropractor when my recurrent neck pain flares up (as in, when I spend too many hours in front of my computer for too many days in a row), and I know lots of other people who see chiropractors, too.
For many complaints, including such varied and seemingly unrelated ones as headaches and digestive distress as well as back and neck problems, chiropractic care can often provide safe, effective and fast-working treatment and (unusual for natural therapies) most insurance plans cover it. However, many mainstream medical doctors aren't fans. Their reasons aren't always clear but seem to lie somewhere on the spectrum between being worried that chiropractic care is not safe and feeling threatened that good chiropractors may take away many of their patients – What exactly does a chiropractor do?.
Hayden, DC, PhD, spokesperson for the American Chiropractic Association. A critical-care nurse for 20 years before becoming a chiropractor himself, Dr. Hayden explained that the nation's ongoing and pressing concern about health-care costs and treatment efficacy is a good backdrop against which to understand the many ways chiropractic care can help patients.
Hayden told me that one of his regular patients is an orthopedic surgeon but another orthopedist in his community won't accept patient referrals from Dr. Hayden, and a nearby hospital won't perform MRI scans for his patients. He believes this lack of acceptance is fueled by the very fact that chiropractic does not involve drugs and can be an effective alternative to hospitalization and surgery, which makes it attractive to both patients and the bean counters of health-care costs.
Key to the growing acceptance of chiropractic care is evidence-based research demonstrating that it is safe, clinically effective and cost-efficient. In the latest such effort, funded by The Foundation for Chiropractic Progress, Dr. Niteesh Choudry and colleagues reviewed existing literature on the efficacy of chiropractic. Their conclusion is that it works as well as or better than conventional modalities, including exercise programs, drug regimens and surgical intervention, for treating many forms of low back and neck pain, two of the most common medical complaints.
For instance, a 2002 study of patients with nonspecific neck pain found that pain was reduced and function improved for 68.3% after seven weeks of chiropractic care, while the success rate for those in the care of general practitioners was only 36%. The patients of chiropractors missed work less frequently and needed less pain medication.
The basis for this is a fairly rare and often undiagnosed condition in which the vertebral arteries in the neck are weakened, possibly by high levels of homocysteine. The fear is that in a vulnerable patient, twisting or stretching those arteries during a chiropractic manipulation could cause them to rupture.
In fact, according to Dr. Hayden, normal head and neck movement present a greater risk than chiropractic manipulation for the kind of weak arteries that are of concern. By that measure, it's risky to have your hair washed in one of those beauty parlor sinks where you have to lean way back (there's even a name for this one, “the beauty parlor stroke”), play sports or even to turn your head to complete a turn while driving.
Hayden said, noting that the statistics don't support the level of concern being expressed. What exactly does a chiropractor do?. He pointed out that chiropractic is so low-risk that practitioners' malpractice insurance costs only about one-tenth what an MD has to pay around $1,300, on average, compared with $10,000 to $20,000 for general physicians. Meanwhile though, patients are voting with their feet so maybe doctors should try to learn more about chiropractic care rather than stand in the way of progress.
As for me, well, when my neck hurts, I visit my chiropractor and I feel better. If you‘re interested in exploring this form of alternative medical care, you can go to www.acatoday (What exactly does a chiropractor do?).org/search/memsearch.cfm to find an experienced, licensed practitioner in your area.
Chiropractors attend graduate-level health colleges to treat disorders of the bones, nerves, muscles, and ligaments. They graduate as doctors of chiropractic degrees, but they are not medical doctors. While chiropractors are widely known for treating back and neck pain, they also treat bone and soft tissue conditions. In this article, we explore myths and truths of chiropractic care.
A common myth is that chiropractors do not undergo a significant amount of training. In fact, they typically complete about 8 years of higher education before they are licensed. Chiropractors tend to have 4 years of undergraduate education. They usually graduate with a pre-med major after having taken courses in sciences, such as biology, chemistry, psychology, and physics.
On average, these involve 4 years of education with a total of 4,200 instructional hours in course credits. Divided by year, a chiropractic graduate program usually involves:: Courses in general anatomy, chiropractic principles, biochemistry, spinal anatomy.: Courses in chiropractic procedures, pathology, clinical orthopedics, imaging interpretation, and research methods.: Courses in clinical internships, integrated chiropractic, pediatrics, dermatology, practice management, and ethics and jurisprudence.: A clinical internship, in which a student studies under a chiropractor and completes rotations in a hospital or veterans' clinic.
After completing the educational and training requirements, an aspiring chiropractor in the United States will sit for their state licensing board. Once they have obtained licensure and certification from the board, they will become a doctor of chiropractic – What exactly does a chiropractor do?. Chiropractors often receive additional training and certification in a wide variety of specialties, including nutrition, sports medicine, acupuncture, and rehabilitation.
Another common myth is that a chiropractor merely cracks a person's back or bones. Chiropractic care is centered around spinal manipulation. However, practitioners also study how the spine and its structures are related to the body's function. A majority of a chiropractor's work involves making adjustments to heal: lower back painwhiplash-related conditionsneck painThey may also provide services such as postural testing and analysis, as well as others designed to promote nutrition and healthful exercise.
An estimated 74 percent of Americans with pain in this area have used chiropractic care at some point in their treatment. Results of a 2010 review cited by the center suggest that spinal manipulation may be useful for treating back pain, migraine headaches, whiplash, and other conditions affecting the upper and lower extremities.
Sessions should be tailored to a person's needs and performed by a licensed chiropractor. Several myths surround this question. One myth is that chiropractors only treat back pain. In fact, chiropractic care can also help to heal pain in the foot, elbow, shoulder, and neck. The same review cited by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health concluded that chiropractic treatment is not useful in treating: Authors of the review failed to find definitive evidence that chiropractic care treated musculoskeletal conditions, such as fibromyalgia, temporomandibular joint disorders, and mid-back pain.
A chiropractor will usually perform an X-ray to ensure that treatment will not worsen a traumatic injury. Studies suggest that chiropractic methods are viable options for managing pain – What exactly does a chiropractor do?. A 2018 review included 17 years of studies involving spinal manipulation and mobilization, which is a more passive form of manipulation. The studies investigated the effects of these treatments on chronic lower back pain, and the authors concluded that the chiropractic methods were “viable” options for pain management.
The authors concluded that treatment improved both function and pain for up to 6 weeks. The American College of Physicians recommend that those with lower back pain use a variety of non-pharmacological treatments, including spinal manipulation. Researchers generally agree that more studies are needed to determine the ideal length and frequency of chiropractic sessions and to identify what injuries may benefit from specific treatments.
A person may experience side effects of spinal manipulation, including: There have been occasional reports of long-term danger related to chiropractic care. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health reports that severe complications may include worsening pain and cauda equina syndrome, which involves nerve damage in the lower spinal cord.
The World Health Organization (WHO) state that it is unsafe for people with certain health conditions to undergo chiropractic manipulation. These conditions include: bone disease and infectionsbroken bonesinflamed joints, such as in cases of rheumatoid arthritissome circulation problemsinfections of the nervous systemAn aspiring chiropractor must spend thousands of hours studying before obtaining a license.
Chiropractic care is drug-free and non-invasive, and it may treat some musculoskeletal problems. While this form of alternative medicine may not benefit everyone, it is generally considered safe for most people.
Help for your aches, pains, creaks and strains Share Mystified by chiropractors? You‘ve got a lot of company. Many people don't understand what a chiropractor does. Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services.
It‘s important to inform your primary care physician about any pain you're experiencing, whether recent or chronic (lasting more than three months). Your primary care doctor can rule out potentially serious problems that need treatment. Chiropractors can complement the traditional medical care you receive. Here are three things you should know about what they do and don't do: “Chiropractors do not prescribe medication; this allows us to think outside the box,” says Dr.
” Many people would rather take a pill than change a few lifestyle habits, but I see finding an alternative approach as a huge positive because it empowers patients to take control of their health.” A chiropractor may prescribe:: To relax tight muscles, relieve spasm and release tension in the fascia (the connective tissue that surrounds each muscle) To gently realign joints and increase range of motion To support sprained joints or muscles as they heal: To restore and maintain mobility and range of motion: For guidance on diet and nutrition to reduce inflammation and promote weight loss “Treatments generally do not hurt.
Bang. “Over time, however, your muscles adjust. Chiropractors can treat pain anywhere in the body: in the head and jaws, the shoulders, the elbows and wrists, the hips and pelvis, and the knees and ankles. “We look at the whole musculoskeletal system and treat the root of the problem. We make sure not only that the joints are moving properly, but also that surrounding muscles are functioning well,” says Dr.
After your primary care physician has evaluated your pain, chiropractors can offer complementary care for many common problems: “A lot of headaches and migraines are caused by tension in the jaw,” Dr. Bang says. “Maybe patients are unaware that they clench their jaw at night. My job is to relieve jaw muscle tension to increase blood flow, which ultimately helps alleviate the headaches.” Podiatrists typically recommend orthotics and massage for temporary relief of this painful foot condition.
” Sometimes the knees or lower back are the real problem, affecting the way patients walk, which eventually leads to plantar fasciitis,” he says. If shoulder pain persists but an MRI shows no problem, chiropractors will assess the muscles surrounding the shoulder blade. They may also look for ribs that are restricted and prevent the shoulder from moving properly.
” Depending on the patient, the intensity and force of treatments vary,” says Dr. Bang. All patients are screened to ensure that they are good candidates for chiropractic care. For example, many older patients have some thinning or softening of the bones that would rule out joint manipulation. If chiropractic care is too risky for a patient, “we will guide them to the right people and resources,” says Dr.
The goal of chiropractic care is to restore your health over the long term, rather than to relieve your symptoms over the short term. So a chiropractor will ask how you move throughout the day (standing, sitting, walking) and how you sleep at night. Learning how to position your body at your desk, when you're standing and moving, and when you‘re in bed and incorporating stretches into your daily routine can be invaluable in preventing future problems.