Chiropractic 101 – Is it for you?
It’s Chiropractic Awareness Month! Have you thought about seeing a Chiropractor, or thought about finding a family Chiropractic Physician, but not sure if you should? Let’s chat!
Megan from Going Crunchy Not Crazy has an amazing story of healing herself through alternative methods when the conventional way couldn’t quite figure out what to do to help her heal. Since she covers lots of different topics and has mainly focused on pregnancy and family health I thought it would be fun to cover how Chiropractic can benefit the whole family.
I created this blog post for you and for her readers in order to hopefully shine some light on the benefits of Chiropractic!
I thought it would be fun to give you an introduction to Chiropractic since it has played a large role in alternative medicine over the years and it has helped millions of people.
It is helpful for the whole family!
Sometimes myths and personal opinions have swayed others from getting help from a Chiropractor, so I’m here to give you a general idea of the benefit of Chiropractic.
I’m a licensed Chiropractor in Portland Oregon and Washington State. I have also furthered my education into nutrition and I use functional medicine principles to guide my nutrition programs.
Research is important in this age. Although it doesn’t tell the whole picture most of the time, it is still important that all information given to you is based on research. It is important to note that Chiropractic has been studied heavily in the past few decades and the research supports the use of Chiropractic for complaints of the muscles, joints and spine. I have included some research articles in case you are interested.
When I was growing up, I played almost every sport, but my favorite and one identified with the most – I was a gymnast. I loved everything about tumbling across the floor and flying through the air. The thrill of releasing your hands from the bar, turning through the air and connecting once again into another turn was addicting.
I loved the sport… until my body hurt.
By the time I was 12 I began complaining almost daily of low back pain, knee, hip and ankle pain. I had twisted my ankle too many times to count; my body was breaking down… at 12 years old.
So, that was when my gymnast days ended. I made it to the highest level my gym could take me and that’s when my mom pulled me from the sport. Now I work with athletes and recreational athletes as the majority of the patients I see and my goal is to prevent them from needing to quit their sport or activity due to injuries.
However, Chiropractic can do a lot more than just treat and prevent sports injuries.
According to the American Chiropractic Association, more than 31 million people will report feeling back pain at any given time and around 30 million Americans seek Chiropractic care each year. Even further, almost 80% of people will experience some type of back pain in their lifetime.
You could think about Chiropractors as specialists for the musculoskeletal system- the muscles, bones and joints. Chiropractors have a thorough knowledge of the structure of the body and the physiology – how the systems function.
Chiropractors can diagnose many conditions related to the body. They can help you take conservative steps towards your treatment including adjustments of the spine, lifestyle changes and nutrition advice. Many Chiropractors have furthered their education and become specialists in other areas including nutrition, neurology, or sports related injuries and use other methods to help treat many different conditions.
In fact, research has shown that adjustments are safe and effective for treating back and joint pain. It can also get workers back to work faster than other treatments and chiropractic treatment on average costs less than most other treatments for back pain. Check out this research article that even stated that adjustments can help better with short-term relief of chronic back pain than medication2,3 (Chronic back pain means it’s been around for a long time, versus waking up one morning in pain or immediately after an injury).
If you are looking for a Chiropractor and aren’t sure how to go about finding one, here are some tips:
- Verify their credentials. As with every physician and specialist, making sure the physician has attended an accredited college and has an active license in your state is imperative. Chiropractors must pass national and state level exams in order to practice in their state just like every other licensed physician.
- Referrals from family members, friends, co-workers often leads to the best experience. Usually the best referrals come from patients who are satisfied with their own experience.
- Feel free to ask questions. Your doctor should spend time answering your questions and responding to your concerns at any time before, during or after treatment.
Is it safe?
Well first, let’s talk about some very common treatments for neck and back pain like NSAIDS (ibuprofen) and surgery. Almost one-third of hospitalizations and deaths are related to NSAID use causing bleeding in the stomach/gut. Choosing this option to “treat” your neck pain, or any pain, will only block the pain signal. It will not fix what is causing the pain 1.
Often, patients come in to my office already nervous about having their neck adjusted. Injuries are really rare. They are so rare that it is reported that about 1 in 5.85 million manipulations may result in an injury 1. Compared to the one-third that end up in the hospital due to NSAIDS, that is quite the difference.
Another study from Spine published in 2012 found that workers who sustained a back injury, whose first point of contact was a surgeon, required surgery in almost 43% of cases1.
Only 1.5% needed surgery that saw a Chiropractor first.
However, for some, that just doesn’t justify having their neck twisted around, but they still have headaches or muscle spasms in the neck, or neck pain. So what can they do?
There are plenty of methods and techniques that use low to no force in order to perform an adjustment. Several techniques have significant research behind them as being as effective as a “normal” adjustment.
Other concerns include having a bad experience with a Chiropractor in the past and now they are nervous to see another Chiropractor. This is understandable and it is definitely something that I am always disappointed to hear.
However, many patients have bad experiences with many different types of doctors, which forces us to find different ones. The same thing applies here. If you had a bad experience and you are still in pain, perhaps a second or third opinion and “vetting” your next Chiropractor a bit more may help you find someone who fits well with you and your family.
What is Pediatric Chiropractic?
Pediatric Chiropractic is much gentler and may be something to consider for your family. Chiropractic has been helpful in some cases of ear infections, helping with torticollis – where the muscles of the neck and head of an infant spasm. There are even many lactation specialists that co-treat with chiropractors for tongue-tie and many other conditions.
Infants undergo quite a traumatic experience to come into the world. Although their spines are mostly just cartilage, many pediatric chiropractic physicians recommend getting the spine checked to lower the potential of having issues that may happen relative to the spine.
We are so used to only seeing doctors when we are injured. More and more thinking preventatively is the key. Chiropractors can help prevent many body related injuries for adults and kids. It’s the same as needing to eat food that actually fuels and improves our health now to avoid getting sick later.
Young growing bodies can also benefit from periodic chiropractic care. Children tend to fall fairly often, hit their head on many things, and are generally fairly rough on their body. Although children don’t get the same pain as adults do from “increased abuse” on the body over time, they can still be susceptible to spinal conditions like scoliosis, where the spine has an abnormal curvature.
Chiropractors often catch conditions like scoliosis before pediatric physicians because Chiropractors tend to see their patients more frequently. This can make a really big difference in the outcome of conditions when they are caught early.
Research is still investigating what other types of conditions, beyond the musculoskeletal system, that Chiropractic can help for adults and kids.
I hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about Chiropractic and what it may have to offer you and your family!
If you have questions:
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- Vallfors B. Acute, subacute and chronic low back pain: Clinical symptoms, absenteeism and working environment. Scan J Rehab Med Suppl 1985;11:1-98.
- Giles L, Muller R. Chronic spinal pain: A randomized clinical trial comparing medication, acupuncture, and spinal manipulation. Spine 2003 July 15;28(14):1490-1502.