Although the latest statistics still depict us as a nation in pain, well over 30 million Americans have found relief from their aches in chiropractic care over the past year. That’s according to a recent Gallup report, which also found that 1/4 of the U.S. adults who have visited a chiropractor would choose chiropractic care first for neck and back pain.
The fact that an increasing number of people are substituting prescription medications with chiropractic care to manage their chronic pain is an important step towards ending the prescription drug abuse epidemic that has plagued the country since the 1990s. Complementary health approaches can not only offer sufferers the quick fix they seek when in pain, but their long-term benefits go well beyond simply addressing pain symptoms.
Let’s look at how spinal manipulation therapy, the primary treatment used by chiropractors, works to soothe patients’ aches and improve their overall health.
Taking Pressure Off Nerves and Tissue
The nerves in our body are designed to send information from the brain to the body and vice-versa without interference. When a spinal bone moves away from its normal position and puts pressure on a spinal nerve, the signals transmitted throughout the body become distorted, causing the body to no longer function properly.
By restoring the impinging element, whether it’s a joint, a bulging disc, or a herniated disc, spinal manipulation helps take the pressure off spinal nerves and almost immediately reduces local pain. It’s important to note that a pinched nerve doesn’t always manifest itself locally; pain often radiates from its origin and can be felt at a different point in the body.
Increasing Joint Mobility
The mobility of a joint is the degree to which an articulation is allowed to move before it is restricted by surrounding tissue. A good level of mobility allows an individual to move without restriction, while limitations within joints can cause pain and dysfunction in a particular joint, as well as in surrounding joints.
Spinal manipulation tries to solve this problem by applying quick but strong pressure on a spinal joint located between two vertebrae of the spine, which pushes the affected joint beyond its normal range of motion and can sometimes produce the cracking sound most chiropractic patients are familiar with. This movement of the spine eliminates restrictions within joints and restores misaligned elements to their original position in the spinal column.
Restoring Blood Flow to the Brain
The most important thing your brain needs to function properly is a rich supply of oxygen (approximately three times greater than what muscles require), and it relies on a healthy blood flow to obtain it. If the flow of blood is decreased or temporarily blocked due to factors such as smoking, high cholesterol, diabetes, or misaligned spinal bones, you may experience a slew of health problems, including migraines, dizziness, fatigue, hearing problems, and impaired cognitive function.
Along with physical exercise and a fiber-rich diet, chiropractic care has been proven effective in restoring optimal blood flow to the brain. An experienced chiropractor can detect areas in the spine where the vertebrae are misaligned and correct them using chiropractic adjustments and other manual therapies.
Reducing Muscle Tension and Spasms
When muscles contract involuntarily for a prolonged period of time due to poor posture, inadequate healing of a past injury, repetitive movements, and other factors, you may experience muscle tension or spasms, also known as “knots.” In many cases, muscle tension may appear harmless and cause only mild discomfort, but in time can trigger a wide range of adverse symptoms, including digestive problems, high blood pressure, and low-back pain.
Fortunately, dealing with muscle tension is relatively easy and straightforward for a professional chiropractor, who may employ a variety of manipulation techniques to soothe tensed muscles and release tension buildup. Many patients report a positive improvement in their muscle tension after just a single chiropractic session. Massage therapy and acupuncture are also excellent to keep your muscles relaxed and prevent excess tension.
In addition to spinal manipulation therapy, chiropractors may also employ adjunctive therapies such as ultrasound, ice and heat therapy, or certain physical therapy modalities as part of a complete treatment plan. Contact a licensed physician in your area to make sure enjoy all the benefits of spinal manipulation for your chronic pain.
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.