Most often, people set foot in a chiropractor’s office for the first time to seek relief from low-back pain. In reality, licensed chiropractors do much more than that. Simply put, by correcting spinal misalignments (subluxations) of vertebrae and discs that cause irritation to the central nervous system, chiropractic care restores the normal flow of nerve impulses and, with it, the body’s normal function and health.
Indeed, back pain sufferers may be the first to benefit from chiropractic therapies, but those affected by a variety of musculoskeletal and nervous system disorders (some of which have little-known causes and no known cure) can also find relief. Following are four major health conditions affecting millions of Americans for which chiropractic care may provide a safer and more effective treatment than standard medicine.
Despite the fact that it affects 35 million people in the United States, migraine is still a poorly understood disease, and its complex nature means that there is no one treatment that alleviates all the symptoms. The standard course of treatment for migraine relief and prevention includes ibuprofen, Triptans, analgesics, antidepressants, and others, and it usually involves a trial-and-error strategy.
By correcting the misalignments that inhibit the proper communication between the brain and the body, a chiropractor’s touch can make the throbbing pain of a migraine attack disappear. A 6-month double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 123 patients suffering from migraine headaches showed significant improvement in pain severity and frequency in those who received spinal manipulation, compared to those in the control group. Another clinical trial conducted to assess the efficacy of chiropractic manipulation compared to standard medication treatment concluded that chiropractic care for migraine sufferers was not only more effective, but its health benefits also lasted longer.
Just like migraine, whiplash is still an enigmatic injury. The term is used to describe a range of neck injuries resulting from the hyperextension (excessive back extension) and hyperflexion (excessive forward motion) of the cervical spine. It often occurs in car accidents (even minor rear-end collisions), sports injuries, assaults, or falls, and although it’s not a life-threatening condition, it may result in chronic neck pain and partial disability.
Chiropractic care has been a great source of relief (in some cases, deemed the “only proven effective treatment”) for patients affected by neck pain, headaches, reduced range of motion, and stiffness as a result of a whiplash injury. Specifically, trained practitioners may resort to chiropractic adjustments to return joints to their proper position, muscle therapy to reduce muscle spasms and inflammation, and ice therapy to offer relief from pain.
3) High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
High blood pressure – the condition that increases the risk for coronary heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure – is another health problem whose exact cause is not yet known. According to CDC, 1 in every 3 American adults (67 million) has hypertension, and 70% of them use medication to treat the condition. Unfortunately, designing an effective medication program for hypertension is often a trial-and-error process, one that involves considering the benefits and side effects of almost a dozen of available drugs in relation to the patient’s health problems, risk factors, and lifestyle choices.
Although chiropractic should in no way be a substitute for hypertension treatment, a special chiropractic realignment of the C-1 vertebra has been shown to have a significant impact in the reduction of high blood pressure. A double-blind study by researchers from the Hypertension Center at the University of Chicago among 50 hypertension patients found that the group who received a procedure called ‘Atlas adjustment’ saw their blood pressure drop an average of 17 points. According to the study authors, this kind of result usually takes a combination of two hypertension medications to achieve and has no adverse effects.
4) Low-Back Pain
Low-back pain, the leading cause of disability worldwide, often develops without a specific cause. The mechanical stress and strain from hunching over the computer screen for hours on end, prolonged sitting, and bad posture can result in episodes of mild to severe back pain. At the same time, muscle and ligament strain, bulging or ruptured vertebral discs, wear and tear over time, or even daily stress and worry can also cause sharp pain in the back, which can spread as far as the feet. In fact, any problem with the spinal muscles, bones, discs, nerves, or tendons can result in discomfort in the lower back area.
Many patients with chronic back pain who are dismissed by health professionals in the absence of a definite pathology choose to visit a chiropractor’s office, and the results are often immediate. When performed by a trained and licensed practitioner, spinal manipulation for acute low-back pain has been proven to be more effective than hospital outpatient management and as effective as conventional options such as exercise, massage, and physical therapy. Various chiropractic treatments can also help chronic pain sufferers manage violent flare-ups caused by specific spine conditions including degenerative spine disease, sciatica, spinal osteoarthritis, herniated disc, and others.
The successful management of the above conditions and many others may require a combination of rehabilitative therapies, nutrition advice, exercise recommendations, and lifestyle counseling. Starting chiropractic treatment for acute and chronic pain as soon as possible may help reduce the need for potentially addictive painkiller drugs and costly surgical procedures.
About the Author
Dr. Marc Browner is the Founder of iChiropractic and Wellness in Naples, Florida. A graduate of the University of Florida in 1991, he earned his Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Life Chiropractic in 1995. In private practice since 1998, Dr. Browner is a member of the Florida Chiropractic Society, the Florida Chiropractic Association, and he attends continuing education seminars, classes, and workshops to remain abreast of the most current treatment methods and technological advances in the field.