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Is Chiropractic Treatment Useful for Back Pain?

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Is Chiropractic Treatment Useful for Back Pain?

Many people suffer from lower back pain at some point in life. As one of the most common reasons to see a physician, the cost adds up to about $200 billion per year in the United States alone, including missed work/wages and the cost of care. If you’re suffering from lower back pain, help is available, but you may not know where to start looking to find the relief you crave. Unfortunately, part of the reason this puzzles so many American adults is because the precise cause of their back pain is unknown, and oftentimes there is no single treatment to alleviate it.

However, even though the causes of back pain vary and are not always clear, doctors’ treatment plans regularly begin with conservative treatment measures. Most patients’ pain improves without the need for invasive procedures. Recommendations are still individualized, and may vary from patient to the next. Some doctors recommend chiropractic, a type of spinal manipulation treatment that can realign your posture and improve your pain. Researchers have yet to decide definitively whether chiropractic is beneficial for back pain, and yet, amid the opioid crisis where too many pain patients are addicted to prescription painkillers, a safe, effective non-opioid alternative is badly needed.

What Is Chiropractic?

The goal of treatment is to improve functionality and restore the range of motion in the back. These treatments are performed by a chiropractor, a healthcare professional focused on addressing neuromuscular disorders through manual adjustments and manipulations of the spine. Chiropractors also give recommendations to patients on how to improve their own health through exercise, ergonomics, and other back pain treatments.

During an appointment with a chiropractor, patients may receive adjustments. These adjustments include manual therapy to manipulate the spine through high-velocity, short lever arm thrusts applied to the joints. During an adjustment, there is an audible release of gas, or that characteristic “popping” or “cracking” sound patients hear during their adjustments. This indicates the release of oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide, which reduces joint pressure. These adjustments are not the only work a chiropractor does, though. They also use other therapies such as heat and ice therapy, exercise instructions, massage, and more.

What the Research Says About Chiropractic for Back Pain A 2018 peer-reviewed scientific study explored the pros and cons of chiropractic care for lower back pain, in which research enrolled 750 active-duty military service members for treatment. Half of those studied were assigned to receive usual care such as rest, medication, and physical therapy, while the other half of the study participants received chiropractic treatment in addition to usual care.

After 6 weeks of treatment, those who received chiropractic care reported:

∙ Lower pain intensity

∙ Less disability

∙ More improvement in function

∙ Higher satisfaction levels with their treatment

∙ They used less painkiller medication

Although 10% of the study subjects who underwent chiropractic described negative effects, no serious side effects were reported. Those who had adverse effects from chiropractic described stiffness in their muscles or joints, which also occurred to 5% of those who received usual care without chiropractic.

While this study proved promising, it had its limitations. Researchers still need to study the effectiveness and safety of chiropractic further to come to a unanimous conclusion.

Should I See a Chiropractor?

Spinal manipulation from a chiropractor may or may not benefit you. The first step is to see your primary care doctor for a diagnosis and possible treatment, and your doctor can recommend whether chiropractic could alleviate your pain. Your doctor can also refer you to a chiropractor, so you see someone who is licensed and certified to perform chiropractic treatment.

You have further options to address your back pain. If you are experiencing back pain and cannot find relief, call (630) 584-1400 to make an appointment at Fox Valley Orthopedics.