Although surgery or physical therapy is typically an option, about 22 million Americans visit chiropractors each year. Around 35 percent of those people are hoping to get relief from back pain, the top complaint among chiropractic and other patients.
So why are people seeking chiropractic treatment? What does it involve, and what are the possible outcomes for pain and quality of life?
Of course, whether you’re new to chiropractic care or have had negative experiences in the past, you may wonder, does chiropractic really work?
We’ll answer all those questions and more, starting with what this treatment is and how it may help you live a better and pain-free life.
What is Chiropractic Treatment?
Chiropractors concentrate on keeping your body—mainly your spine—in alignment. But in addition to your spine, a chiropractor also addresses your muscles and nervous system. The practice follows the guideline that all parts of our bodies are connected; therefore, adjusting the spine into alignment can help alleviate pain and other health issues.
Treatment includes physical manipulation of your spine and other body systems into their natural, intended state. You can expect to either lie down on an adjustment table or sit in a special chair to receive your treatment.
Most treatment involves fast movements that gently “nudge” your misaligned areas back into place. You can expect most visits to be short, but you may need frequent adjustments when first starting treatment or if you’ve recently experienced an injury or another issue.
The truth is, most of us don’t maintain good posture all the time, and plenty of people walk around with injuries, minor discomfort, and even pain for years before seeking treatment.
Of course, the earlier, the better, when it comes to solving health problems that may not go away on their own.
Chiropractic serves to re-align your body, promoting the health of your systems and your body as a whole. And while most people don’t seek out care until they sustain an injury or can’t get rid of ongoing pain, preventative care is just as common, too.
How Does Treatment Work?
Your care provider will use either hands-on spinal manipulation or tools such as automatic adjusters, or both! The adjustment realigns the musculoskeletal structure with small but forceful movements. The treatment can also impact muscles, joints, and connective tissue.
You might feel a bit sore after treatment; this is because improper posture and injury can force your body into a position.
A spinal or other adjustment is coaxing you back into alignment, which might be a longer process if your injury or condition isn’t recent. You might feel uncomfortable at first, but soon, your body will adapt to the proper posture and positioning.
In addition to physical manipulation of the system, chiropractors may also use other types of care, such as:
- Heat and ice
- Electrical stimulation
- Relaxation techniques
- Rehabilitative exercise and treatment
- Counseling regarding diet, weight loss, and lifestyle factors
- Dietary supplements
In some cases, a combination of treatments is ideal to address not only your back or neck pain but also your overall health.
What Conditions Do Chiropractors Treat?
Though an adjustment can help relieve long-term back and neck pain, there are other conditions which benefit from chiropractic treatment.
For example, people with osteoarthritis or fibromyalgia may find relief through the pressure and manipulation of an adjustment.
Many people seek chiropractic treatment following a car accident, sports injury, or other serious accident. This is because realigning your body into its healthy, pre-accident state cannot only reduce pain but also help prevent future damage to your system.
Many sources suggest chiropractors can also help with other conditions like:
- Tension headaches
- Stress and anxiety
- Weak immune systems
- Sports injuries
Are Chiropractors Legitimate?
If you are unfamiliar with the notion that all parts of our bodies are interconnected, chiropractic care seems a bit odd!
But understanding how our bones, muscles, ligaments, nervous system, and organs are connected and work together can help alleviate your worries.
A chiropractic education involves the study of physiology, biology, diagnosis and diagnosis imaging, spinal manipulation, physics, ethics, anatomy, and more. Course requirements vary by program, but every chiropractor receives a well-rounded education on the body systems and caring for patients.
Not only are chiropractors educated about the human body, as well as licensed by their state, but they also concentrate on treating the whole person rather than just symptoms.
Fortunately, chiropractic care offers a unique opportunity to promote overall health rather than just relieving back or other pain.
Beach Pain Center’s staff and doctors are all highly knowledgeable and licensed, meaning you can expect quality care whether you’re seeing a chiropractor, physical therapist, doctor, or a combination of the three.
Do Chiropractic Adjustments Work?
Many critics of this type of care wonder, is chiropractic quackery?
The truth is, chiropractors are just as qualified and knowledgeable as many types of medical professionals. There are numerous health benefits to chiropractic care, as long as you’re receiving an adjustment from a skilled professional.
Chiropractic specialists use both their hands and other tools to physically manipulate the body’s alignment. With consistent treatment, you’re “training” your body to stay in alignment, despite outside pressures, injury, or just habit.
Therefore, you’re unlikely to see a huge effect after a single treatment.
But over time, the effects will become more visible. Also, many patients report feeling better immediately, mainly if they have been dealing with pain due to being out of alignment for a long time.
You can usually tell that an adjustment is “working” based on whether your symptoms subside.
An increased range of motion, lessening of pain, and restoration of sensation after numbness or tingling are all positive signs.
Do Chiropractors Really Help?
It’s understandable to wonder whether chiropractic care really helps with pain and discomfort, including the question is chiropractic effective.
It depends on who you ask because our patients are fully satisfied overall!
But each individual’s experience can vary, especially considering the range of issues and injuries that patients have.
In general, chiropractors can help with most conditions that affect the range of motion, flexibility, and the ability to move around or even sit without pain.
Every person’s body is different, but most people can benefit from spinal manipulation and other chiropractic treatment. And a variety of studies have determined chiropractic care is helpful for many conditions, such as:
- Acute and chronic back pain
- Neck pain
- Back pain that may otherwise indicate surgery
Also, patients consistently report higher satisfaction with chiropractic treatment than traditional medical patients.
Even in comparison with physical therapy, patients are often more satisfied with chiropractic than physical therapist visits.
How Do Chiropractors Help Relieve Pain?
Specialized diagnosis helps our staff and doctors to determine the right treatment plan for you. And based on your needs, you’ll undergo treatment that can help eliminate pain long-term.
Here are a few examples of how chiropractors help patients relieve pain.
Patients who have been in a car accident—even a low-speed crash—can sustain whiplash. Whiplash is a condition which strains the neck muscles as the head moves forward and backward too fast for the body to keep up.
In some cases, whiplash is minor and resolves itself within a few days or weeks.
In other cases, you may need lab tests or X-rays to determine how much damage you have. In severe cases, pain can last for weeks.
Restoring your natural pain-free state is the first step in recovery, but increasing your range of motion and getting back to full functionality is the ultimate goal.
Pinched Nerve Treatment
Although “pinched nerve” isn’t a clinical diagnosis, it does refer to real conditions that create pain and limit your range of motion. It happens when the surrounding tissues, bones, and other body components disrupt the function of the nerve.
You might experience pain, tingling, weakness in a limb or area, and numbness with a pinched nerve. Beach Pain Center concentrates on body mechanics and works to relieve the cause of the symptoms rather than treating the symptoms themselves.
In most cases, using ice packs and pain relievers can help at first. But long-term, a pinched nerve will not get better without appropriate treatment.
Lower Back Pain Treatment
Whether it’s poor posture that you’ve struggled with your whole life or an exercise injury that suddenly sparked lower back pain, this condition doesn’t often go away on its own.
However, chiropractic care can help realign your back and encourage proper posture.
You may also be experiencing pinched nerves that contribute to or cause your back pain.
Overall, spinal alignment can help alleviate both issues, and Beach Pain Center can help address your unique symptoms and struggles to get you feeling better and standing up straighter sooner.
Neck Pain Treatment
Whether it’s a headache or lingering neck pain, many patients cite this is a top concern.
But headaches can be a sign of an underlying problem, and chiropractic care can help address those subtle issues. Instead of taking pain medication or just hoping the discomfort will go away, seeking chiropractic care can help restore your quality of life and ability to function.
FAQs About Chiropractic Care
Do you still have more questions about this type of care?
Here are commonly asked questions about chiropractors.
What Do Doctors Think of Chiropractors?
First, a chiropractor is a doctor!
And while it’s true that chiropractic care is less mainstream than other types of medicine, it’s still a form of therapy. Therefore, many medical professionals will refer their patients to a chiropractor for treatment.
Often, a doctor will recommend chiropractors for patients who have had car accidents or other injuries involving force. Some doctors recommend adjustments for patients following or in conjunction with surgery or other therapy as well.
If you’re wondering will a doctor recommend chiropractors, it also depends on their personal beliefs about the practice. Some physicians are skeptical, preferring to believe that chiropractic care is pseudoscience rather than rooted in anatomical and physiological concepts.
Also, some insurance policies do not cover chiropractic care, and others require a referral from your regular doctor or a specialist so that they’ll cover the service.
However, in recent years, more insurance providers have decided to cover chiropractic adjustments. It’s possible that your insurance plan will cover treatment, helping to reduce the cost of your visits and making the service more accessible over time.
Beach Pain Center accepts a majority of insurance and will work with your insurance company to make sure you receive the proper care.
Are Chiropractors Safe?
Every chiropractor has their own unique approach to treating patients.
However, all chiropractors must have an education in chiropractic care: a Doctor of Chiropractic degree, which requires at least four years of training and schooling. In most states, this is following completion of a Bachelor’s degree.
Also, all states require a license to practice, so along with four to eight years of college, your provider must also pass a certification exam before opening a practice or joining an existing one. Many state licensing boards require continuing education, too, with yearly workshops or classes.
Many chiropractors also pursue specialties or further education in other areas like pediatrics, acupuncture, physical and therapeutic rehabilitation, nutrition, occupational health, and more.
Certificates often require hundreds of hours of coursework and provide chiropractors an opportunity to serve their patients further.
Further, chiropractors tend to have lower premiums for malpractice insurance. This suggests that insurers recognize the low risk of visiting a chiropractor since there few claims to address and pay out.
What’s the Difference Between Massage and Chiropractic?
Although many chiropractors also utilize massage in their services, seeing a massage therapist is different than consulting with a licensed chiropractor.
A massage therapist can often earn a certificate with a couple of years’ education, and some colleges or centers offer shorter-term programs.
Massage may relieve stress and help patients deal with soreness or pain, but this type of service won’t help align your body or prevent future health problems or pain.
Conversely, a chiropractor must possess both a bachelor’s degree and a four-year certificate. They must also continue to add to their education and experience.
And, chiropractic care looks at the bigger picture; the focus is not on muscles or bones, but everything within the human anatomy, including organs and symptoms.
Who Should Receive Chiropractic Care?
Nearly everyone can benefit from chiropractic care, which is why it’s one of the most approachable treatment options for all ages.
Also, each patient receives a customized course of treatment, so we consider every health and comfort need on a case-by-case basis.
Even babies and young children often visit chiropractors for help managing conditions such as ear infections, breastfeeding problems, colic, plagiocephaly, torticollis, and other misalignments including that of the spine.
There are also specialties in pediatric chiropractic for providers who want to treat children full-time. Whether or not a child should receive chiropractic care depends on his or her age, health condition, and many other factors; parents should consult a professional chiropractor to determine whether treatment is right for their child.
In general, whether they’re younger or older adults, people with the following conditions can expect to receive helpful and pain-relieving chiropractic care:
- Car accident injuries
- Lower back pain
- Pinched nerve
- Arthritis pain
- Migraines and headaches
- Arm or shoulder pain
- Neck pain
- Hip and leg pain
- Knee pain
- Disc problems
- Carpal tunnel
Patients also report improvement in other areas of wellness following chiropractic treatment, so care can also help promote overall health and well-being.
One study highlighted the fact that more than 40 percent of patient visits were related to “health enhancement and/or disease prevention.” So patients also seek preventative care rather than pain relief following an injury or illness.
Who Shouldn’t Receive Chiropractic Care?
Many conditions can make certain types of treatment ineffective, painful, or even dangerous. At the same time, each individual must consider their own comfort level, injury status, and other details before deciding to pursue treatment.
In some cases, you may need to have your doctor verify that chiropractic care is a viable option.
But in general, people with specific conditions should avoid chiropractors, including such diagnoses as:
- Spinal cord compression
- Inflammatory arthritis
- Any condition involving blood-thinning medications
- Cancer (see your physician first)
- Increased risk of stroke
- Excessive motion (instability) in the spine
Of course, you should always consult with a medical doctor before seeking chiropractic care if you have any preexisting condition, injury, or have recently had surgery.
Most doctors also caution against receiving any type of chiropractic care, massage, or other bodily manipulation until a set time after surgery. This way, your body’s soft tissues have time to recover before continuing or starting regular treatment.
What Are the Risks of Chiropractic Adjustments?
Negative treatment effects are thankfully uncommon, but they do happen.
Some kinds of strokes are also attributed to improper neck manipulation.
However, an early symptom of a stroke is often neck pain, leading sufferers to assume it was the chiropractic adjustment that brought on a stroke. Unfortunately, it’s often difficult to isolate a specific cause for any given condition. That means sometimes chiropractors take the blame when it was another issue that caused a patient’s pain or injury.
Improper compression of nerves in the lower spinal column also poses serious health risks, but a knowledgeable professional understands how to adjust patients safely and painlessly.
And while these risks give you an idea of what to be cautious about, they occur very rarely. In fact, the neck adjustment risks are on par with the level of risk you’d experience while visiting a medical doctor for the same condition.
Also, before you receive a chiropractic adjustment, you will receive a full “workup” that considers your medical history, current physical condition, and any pain you’re experiencing.
Looking at all aspects of your health pre-treatment can help your care provider determine the best course of action for relieving your pain and getting you back in proper alignment, without unnecessary risk.
What Are the Benefits of Chiropractic Care?
According to a questionnaire administered to over 500 patients, the top benefits of chiropractic care were reduced pain and increased mobility.
Overall, patients were satisfied with their care and felt that their expectations were met.
Overall benefits depend on any pre-existing conditions and your health in general, but many people report a range of benefits such as lower blood pressure, reduced inflammation, improved in neurological function, improved athletic performance, and even reduced vertigo symptoms.
Another benefit of chiropractic care is a lower cost than care via a medical doctor in a private practice or healthcare facility.
Is Chiropractic Care Affordable?
Since some insurance companies do not cover chiropractic care, the cost associated with treatment can seem high.
However, the cost effectiveness of treatment is higher than that of MD or physical therapy care.
In fact, people who sought only medical care tended to pay more than those who underwent a combination of treatment via both an MD and a chiropractor.
Studies have reported that chiropractic treatment had lower costs of care and helped relieve back pain more effectively than other types of treatment. It’s no secret that medical care is expensive, but it’s also not well-known that chiropractic care can be 20 to 40 percent cheaper than seeing an MD for the same condition.
Beach Pain Center accepts a majority of insurance and will work with your insurance company to make sure you receive the proper care.
Chiropractors: Good or Bad
Of course, we at Beach Pain Center have entered the profession because we wholeheartedly believe chiropractic care is good.
But for patients who have had bad experiences in the past or have doubts about the process, it’s difficult to take steps toward getting regular care.
That’s why we’re here—to help reduce your worries and your pain while providing treatment that addresses you as a person rather than you as a diagnosis.