When most people hear the term chiropractor, they immediately think: back pain. If you’ve often thought that the only time you go to see a chiropractor is when you’re in serious back pain or after a major injury or car accident, you are very wrong. More and more we are seeing chiropractors work on everything from headaches to tennis elbow even digestive problems.
The spinal column is the house where all your nerves originate and your nerves are going to impact your entire body. This means every muscle, every organ, every cell is somehow influenced by your spine and CNS. It’s important business. And, chiropractors are the doctors who deal with these issues.
Right now we have nearly 100,000 licensed physicians who are practicing chiropractic care and we are only going to see that number increase in the years to come. More people are seeking out alternative medical treatment as we want to move away from drugs and conventional treatments with harsh side effects as often as possible.
Seeking out a chiropractor and going to your appointment is going to be a much different process than just taking a prescription medicine to help relieve the pain. The chiropractor is going to take a holistic approach, assessing your entire body as he or she determines what would be leading to this problem and how they can address that at the site. Very often problems in one area of our body stem from issues in another, so unless that whole picture is assessed, it can be really hard to make true progress at getting better.
Let’s look further at what chiropractors are and how they can help you take that extra step in your health care regime.
Chiropractic Care: What Is It?
At the heart, chiropractic care is looking for any sort of misalignment in the spinal column that may lead to vertebral subluxations that will then interfere with the central nervous system. When you have these present, you are often going to be noticing high levels of inflammation in that area of the spinal column as well as a lack of motion that can eventually lead to joint degeneration.
If not treated early enough, your acute injury can turn into a long term chronic problem.
Your original thinking of going to see the chiropractor and having your back cracked is fairly correct. The primary modality of treatment these doctors use is hands on treatment where they adjust the spinal column, helping you to heal up these subluxations.
The Underlying Belief With Chiropractic Care
Unlike your traditional doctor, who is trained to help treat your condition at the site, the chiropractor takes a slightly different approach. Their mindset is that your body is capable of healing anything as long as no other stresses are currently at play.
When the body is undergoing another stress, resources are devoted towards dealing with that, thus limiting the overall recovery that can occur.
Some of the things that can interfere with the CNS and therefore lessen the recovery that takes place includes poor posture, lack of proper nutrition, high stress levels both physically or emotionally, muscular tension and tightness in the body, as well as other illnesses coupled with poor digestive health. Coming to terms with these things will help you better position yourself in a place of healing.
This is one reason why your chiropractor may suggest other things for you to do outside of your treatment with them such as taking relaxing baths, exercising regularly, or using a high quality probiotic supplement such as P3-OM to help enhance digestive health.
When all of these are in order, your potential for healing will dramatically increase.
So now that you have a deeper understanding of what chiropractic care is and what the belief systems revolving around it happens to be, let’s take a closer look at some of the main issues that chiropractic care is exceptionally great for treating and helping you better manage.
Aching Back Pain
To start us off, you guessed it, we’re talking back pain. Perhaps the most common reason why people seek out chiropractic care is due to that stigma that says, what this doctor is all about is ‘back problems’.
As a result, when most people suffer from any pain in their lower or upper back, this is who they seek out for help.
Low back pain is all too common in today’s world. People are noticing pain creeping up due to issues such as sitting too long at their desk at work, not getting enough exercise throughout the day, weak abdominal muscles, or simply poor posture that is putting great strain on their lower back.
Whether your back pain is acute and short-lived or it’s a chronic issue that you have been dealing with, seeing a chiropractor can definitely help relieve some of that pain.
Nagging Neck Pain
Along with back pain, another type of pain that typically send people running to the chiro to fix is neck pain. Neck pain is highly common and can be caused by a number of different factors according to the American Chiropractic Association¹.
Some other conditions that might cause you to see a chiropactor includes:
· Injury or accidents. These are some of the most frequent causes of neck pain and are typically acute however if they are left to progress, they can go on to become chronic when not treated.
· Old age. Some people suffer from degenerative conditions such as osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, as well as degenerative disc disease and these can all affect the spine.
· Osteoarthritis, which is another common joint disorder that can impact people of any age, although it does tend to strike middle aged to older individuals is another leading cause of neck pain
· Spinal stenosis, which can cause small nerve passageways in the vertebrae of the back to become more narrow, which then traps the nerve roots and can lead to pain along with numbness and loss of function. It’s imperative that this issue gets treated quickly.
The good news is that your chiropractor can very effectively address all of these issues that may be leading to your neck pain
Migraines And Headaches
If you are someone who’s suffering from migraines, when one hits, you want it gone – and fast. Few things are more painful than migraines but for some, they feel hopeless and like they will never stop.
Chiropractic care can help out here as well. Often migraine headaches are due to a misalignment of the spine, so fixing that can help fix the root cause of the condition, ensuring that you remain healthier and stronger than ever.
One research study published in the Journal of Manipulative Physiological Therapeutics noted that in one research group it was seen that 22% of the participants who were studied noticed a 90% reduction in migraine occurrences while undergoing two months of spinal manipulation therapy².
So while it’s not going to help every single person who suffers from migraines, if you are in the group of those who is assisted by it, it could tremendously decrease the frequency as well as the severity.
Temporomandibular Joint Pain
Another condition that’s effectively treated by chiropractic care is temporomandibular joint pain, or TMJ for short. This pain often comes about when you are sleeping or you are trying to eat and have difficulty opening up your mouth and producing the force necessary to chew your foods.
Those who have pain due to this typically notice discomfort in their neck and jaw area. Then after treatment, the pain lessen while all the structures loosen up and chewing now becomes much easier.
Muscle Aches and Pains
As odd as it may sound, chiropractic care could actually help out with those sore muscles or that tendon injury that you have going on.
Often times the symptoms associated with these injuries originate in the bone structures so by using chiropractic care, you can find relatively fast relief and get back into the game.
Often times chiropractors will borrow treatments from other alternative therapies to treat these conditions including massage therapy, stretching, as well as exercising that will help to relax tense muscles and improve posture which will then lead to a greater range of motion and decreased pain.
So you might be asking yourself why not just go to a massage therapist for this in the first place? You could, but a massage therapist does not undergo nearly the same level of education as a chiropractor does and will only be able to treat you in massage. So if massage is what you are after, then that’s great and you will do fine but if you feel like you may also need additional treatments beyond massage, then it’s helpful to seek out a chiropractor.
One unique issue that chiropractic care can help out with that many people completely overlook is digestive stress. The digestive system and spinal column are intricately linked and all of the many processes that take place during the digestion of your food are, at least in some part, controlled by the nerves running up and down your spinal column.
Many people see chiropractors with great success for issues such as bloating, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, and other digestive issues.
The chiropractor will work on improving the gut-brain connection in the body, which will then help to enhance the function of the nerves innervating the digestive tract.
Some of the main things that a chiropractor will focus on to help your digestive system includes evoking relaxation, improving blood flow to the digestive organs, and enhancing communication between the nervous system and the gut. This can then help to relieve a number of unwanted digestive issues including IBS, constipation, diarrhea, and acid reflux.
Do keep in mind that you will also need to be mindful of the foods you are eating, how much stress you are under, and whether you are supplementing with a probiotic product such as P3-OM. Doing all of these along with your chiropractic treatments are going to give you the best overall results.
Finally, last but not least, seeing a chiropractor can also be very beneficial for helping to remedy joint pain issues that you may be having that are unrelated to osteoporosis or other joint related problems.
Many people suffer from joint injuries thanks to their daily activities. Maybe you pushed it too hard in the gym for too long and now have an overuse injury to show for it. Or perhaps your job involves doing a repetitive movement time and time again and this is what is leading you down a path to pain.
Whatever the case happens to be, joint pain can be remedied with proper chiropractic care.
Here again, they will assess what the root cause of that joint pain may be and then look for all the ways that they can attack this problem to offer you support going forward.
Joint pain, unlike muscle pain, is typically slower to heal, so do keep in mind it may take some time for you to become well again.
This isn’t going to be a quick fix where with one treatment you are all better. But if you go repeatedly over a few weeks and stay consistent with all your treatment prescriptions then you should be able to get over your joint pain relatively quick.
So there you have some of the main things to know about chiropractic care and how seeing this type of doctor could help you improve your overall health and well-being. These doctors are highly qualified and undergo many, many hours of training to do what they do. While your regular doctor may be more up on all the latest drug information used to treat conditions, a chiropractic doctor has a much better understanding of how the body is all related and how it’s all working on a CNS level. So it can be helpful to see both doctors if you are really suffering.
Do keep in mind that there are different types of chiropractors out there however. There are straight chiropractors who stick to the information they learned in school to deliver treatment. These doctors tend to be more ‘by the book’ so to speak, relying on the proven methods of treatment that are within their specialty.
Then there are mixer chiropractors, who are more likely to practice a multidisciplinary approach, providing you with nutrition advice, prescribing supplements for you to take, teaching you a number of different exercises to do at home, and so forth.
There is no better option here as both of these types of chiropractors can be very effective. But you should consider which approach is more in tune with your own needs and ensure that whichever chiropractor you choose to work with is going to follow suite and provide the type of care that you are looking for.
In today’s world we are seeing the value and benefit in alternative therapies more often. Prescription drug use is starting to lessen, which is a great step towards optimizing our health and becoming well again.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do they do at a chiropractic office?
The type of treatment you receive will depend on what you are there for. They will ask you an inventory of questions about your overall health history. Then from there, formulate a proper treatment protocol and possibly some additional things you can do in your lifestyle to find fast relief.
Is a chiropractor a real doctor?
Because chiropractors do not have medical degrees, but degrees in Chiropractics, they are not the same as an actual medical doctor. However, they do undergo an extensive amount of education to do what they do and are highly skilled professionals in the area of health.
Do chiropractors really help?
Everyone’s experience with this can be different. Some people will be helped almost immediately while others may need more treatments. Still others may not be helped at all. There is a good amount of research showing that chiropractic care does resolve a number of issues. It may even help save you time and frustration in the long run to see one.
Is it safe to go see a chiropractor?
Yes, as long as you are seeing a properly qualified professional then it is considered to be generally safe to see a chiropractor. However, there are always going to be risks associated with spinal treatments, but these risks are quite low.
How long does it take for symptoms to improve when receiving chiropractic care?
It depends on the condition and the individual themselves but most people will see progress within 5-6 weeks of continued use.
2. Tuchin, Peter J., Henry Pollard, and Rod Bonello. “A randomized controlled trial of chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy for migraine.” Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics 23.2 (2000): 91-95