Chiropractic is an alternative healthcare treatment that uses manipulation of bones, muscles and joints to relieve pain and aid the healing of a range of different issues. A chiropractor does not use medicines or surgery, but may recommend certain exercise, diet or lifestyle changes, rehabilitation programmes, or refer to other healthcare professionals.
Although a chiropractor is not a medical doctor, they are a registered and licenced healthcare professional who has undertaken at least 5 years of specialist training and continues to undertake training and professional development each year in order to remain practicing.
Most people choose to see a chiropractor for the first time after suffering from pain for quite some time, or after deciding that their movement is restricted and hindering their enjoyment of life. If you have a look online you will find a range of problems that can be treated by a trained chiropractor; to get more information about what can be treated by chiropractic you might have a look at somewhere like the Bauer Chiropractic Centre website or speak to a chiropractor directly.
Many people associate chiropractic with pain relief – particularly of back ache and headaches. However, they may not understand all that is involved, or the variety of areas that can be positively improved by a qualified and registered chiropractor.
Using spinal manipulation is a very good treatment for neck pain, particularly if caused by sudden trauma like whiplash. However, a chiropractor may also be able to assist with more serious causes such as Cervical Degenerative Disc Disease, which is when the discs between the cervical joints start to deteriorate. Manipulation of these joints by a chiropractor can help improve range of motion and/or reduce pain.
Research that looked into “evidence-based practice and chiropractic care” in 2012 (click here) suggests that, with lower back pain in particular, more mainstream/conservative medical treatment when combined with alternative therapy such as massage and chiropractic therapy provided reduced pain and less recurrence than conservative treatment alone.
The chiropractor is likely to use spinal manipulation to try to realign the spine which will hopefully reduce any irritation of nerves and increase mobility of the joints. Muscle massage may also be used to help this process.
Manipulation could be used to treat back pain caused by a range of issues from the acute pain caused by poor posture at an office desk or sudden pain from picking up an object that was too heavy.
Often the technique used applies a thrusting pressure on a vertebra which may cause an audible ‘pop’ as pressure is released from the joint. If the chiropractor is unable to get any movement from the joint, they may use massage techniques to relax the surrounding muscles. They may also use hot and/or cold therapy which can help restore blood flow.
Headaches may be associated with neck pain however, chiropractic options may be useful for migraines.
Because of the hormones generated in pregnancy, many women find that ligaments stretch and back or pelvic pain may occur. A chiropractor may use manipulation or adjustment of the pelvis, suggest the use of a pregnancy support belt, encourage the woman to use certain exercises that strengthen and release the hips, pelvis and lower spine, or a combination of all three.
Because long-term suffering or chronic pain can often be a trigger for depression, chiropractic may be used as part of a treatment plan to help depression.
If you have pain in your heel or the bottom of your foot when you stand or walk you may have strained your plantar fascia – the ligament that connects your toes to your heel bone. Often this is caused by poor posture, and a chiropractor will be able to help you regain a strong carriage – particularly if you spend most of your day walking or standing. A combination of stretches and ice treatment may also help. You may need to take anti-inflammatory medication to relieve the pain, but a chiropractor can work in conjunction with mainstream medicine to help relieve your symptoms. Another cause for this can be pressure caused from being overweight.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Case studies looking at the effectiveness of chiropractic in the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome have had positive results in reducing pain and causing an increase in grip strength. Generally the method of treatment would involve manual manipulation of the bones, joints and ligaments of the wrist, elbow and neck.
In both adults and children, the lower spine being out of alignment may cause pressure on the nerves in the intestine, so chiropractic manipulation of this area can relieve constipation.
The New Zealand Chiropractors’ Association very strongly feels that children should not suffer, or even experience, “growing pains” and this this type of pain, which is often accompanied by back pain, is often an indicator of a deeper problem, or is a symptom of the spine being out of alignment. Children as young as 3years may have cramping muscles and aching joints dismissed as mere growing pains.
Any time you go to see a chiropractor about an issue they will undertake a full diagnosis. If they feel that you should see another health professional, please follow their advice. A chiropractor is a professional health care provider who wants to see you in a fit, healthy, pain-free state. Sometimes this is best achieved with medical care that compliments not contradicts each other.