As you get older, you’re likely to eventually deal with back pain caused by poor posture, age, or even injury.
Whatever the cause, back pain is uncomfortable at best and to get well quickly you may have been referred to a chiropractor.
Before going you may be wondering, “Does chiropractic care help your back?”
Does Chiropractic Care Help Your Back?
Chiropractic care is non-invasive, patient-centered, hands-on (manual therapy) health care profession that mainly focuses on a patient’s spine, joints, muscles, and nervous system.
Chiropractors use only the best available evidence and clinical expertise to diagnose problems that affect your neuro-musculoskeletal movement.
The hallmark of chiropractic care is spinal manipulation (or a chiropractic adjustment).
It does not involve medication or surgery and mainly focuses on restoring mobility. Chiropractic care promotes health, alleviates pain, and generally improves the quality of life. It does this without subjecting patients to drugs, which can have dangerous side effects.
Chiropractic care is extremely safe when performed by a licensed practitioner.
When indicated, chiropractors refer patients to other medical professionals for co-management.
In the United States, many chiropractors have a referral network and work together with other spine specialists in multi-specialty spine clinics.
A chiropractic examination is similar to the medical examination procedures used by all health care providers—with a few distinct differences.
Many chiropractors use specific movement assessments to analyze your range of motion.
These movement assessments are critical to determining the proper diagnosis and creating an accurate treatment plan.
Chiropractors place a focus on your spine’s function and structure before determining the specific chiropractic treatment to employ.
An initial exam will involve:
Consultation: This is where the patient meets with the chiropractor and gives a brief history of their back pain.
This includes the duration of the pain, symptoms description (e.g., type of pain whether throbbing or burning), areas of the pain, for example, back pain or neck pain, what helps to relieve the pain, for example, sitting or lying down, and what worsens the condition like standing or lifting things.
Patient’s case history: This would include family history, the patient’s history of other spine treatments, dietary habits, psychosocial history, and occupational history.
Physical examination: This is when the chiropractor may use various methods to establish the parts of the spine that require chiropractic treatment.
These include employing static and motion palpation methods to ascertain the spinal parts that are hypo mobile or fixated.
Depending on your history and findings, the chiropractor may use other diagnostic tests like X-rays.
Crafting a treatment plan is ultimately based upon the chiropractor’s findings and your health goals.
Chiropractic diagnosis categories include:
During your examinations and evaluation, your chiropractors will be ruling out red flags.
Red flags are things that require immediate medical attention such as a tumor, fracture, or infection.
Fortunately, these types of findings are rare.
More common findings include things like sciatica, spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, sprain/strain injuries, and spondylolisthesis.
In the case of a red flag, your chiropractor will refer you to a medical spine specialist or surgeon and may only help co-manage your care.
A chiropractic adjustment—or spinal manipulation—is the hallmark of chiropractic care.
The term refers to the chiropractor applying a gentle force into the spine to establish normal movement patterns and function.
The adjustment involves a high velocity and short arm thrust used on the spine, cavitation, and a relieving sensation.
Forms of Chiropractic Therapy
Heat and Ice Therapy
Chiropractors may alternately use heat and cold therapy to treat patients with lower back pain.
The process involves using icepacks to numb the patient’s back for about ten to fifteen minutes and then switch with a heating wrap or hot water bottle to restore blood flow to the area, promoting faster healing.
The heat helps relax the muscle while the ice controls inflammation.
The chiropractor may provide patients with instructions for an exercise schedule that focuses on stretching and back strengthening based on the diagnosis.
The exercises include strengthening the trunk muscles, stretching the postural muscles, and proprioceptive promoting.
A balance of strength and flexibility is needed to keep your spine healthy.
Your chiropractor may recommend massage therapists work on your back to reduce swelling and inflammation and improve blood circulation in the affected areas.
Massage therapy is a common adjunctive procedure that can help expedite the healing process.
Most chiropractors will provide patients with tips on how an improved diet can help with their back pain.
Maintaining an anti-inflammatory diet is critical to minimizing your pain and helping your body stay healthy and happy long term.
The developer and founder of chiropractic care was D.D. Palmer, who coined the profession based on the Greek words to mean “done by hands.” It is believed that Palmer performed the first chiropractic practice on a janitor in 1895.
After making a vertebrae adjustment on the deaf janitor, the janitor observed that his hearing improved.
Palmer went forward and opened the first chiropractic school, now Palmer College of Chiropractic, in Iowa.
His son, B.J., followed in his father’s path and continued to develop the chiropractic profession for decades to come.
The first chiropractic license for practice was handed in 1913 and many states had acknowledged the practice by 1931.
Today, there are more than 70,000 active chiropractic licenses around the world.
As people seek healthy living options that do not involve prescription medicine and surgery, the practice of chiropractic is more important than ever.
There is an increase in the number of students wishing to enter chiropractic schools and more people desire holistic solutions to their healthcare needs.
Students must graduate from an accredited chiropractic college to be recognized in the profession.
There are over 15 Council of Chiropractic Education accredited colleges in the United States.
At the end of the program, which can take up to eight years, students earn a doctorate in chiropractic medicine.
From there, new chiropractors able to practice throughout the world and help more people experience chiropractic care to help their back pain.
So, you may be wondering, “Does chiropractic care help your back?”
The answer is, Yes! … and the research supporting it keeps growing!