Chiropractic treatment is the most popular alternative therapy for back pain in today’s modern world. In the United States, around 22 million residents have at least one annual visit to a chiropractor. About 35 percent of these individuals are looking to get back pain relief from causes like sports injuries, muscle strains, and accidents. But that leaves 65 percent of people unaccounted for. Chiropractors might be best known for helping manage back pain after injuries, but what else do they do?
Chiropractors specialize in the alignment of the musculoskeletal system. This includes your bones, joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and all the ways that they work together. Most chiropractors focus on joints and muscles, but they may incorporate the alignment of other soft tissues into their treatment. Much of traditional chiropractic treatment includes manipulating the spine and other joints to release tension and help restore alignment to the body.
Information about chiropractic treatment is provided by the American Chiropractic Association. This organization helps raise awareness of what chiropractors do and what treatment they can offer. In addition to treating back pain, chiropractors are able to address headaches, neck pain, and joint disorders and injuries affecting the muscles, ligaments, and joints. Some chiropractors can treat carpal tunnel syndrome and other issues caused by musculoskeletal damage. Every chiropractor must get an undergraduate degree, complete four years of additional chiropractic study, and then pass a licensing exam.
Chiropractic treatment has relatively few risks provided that the practitioner is licensed and trained. In fact, spinal manipulation sessions are less likely to cause potential damage to your body than over-the-counter NSAIDs.
In addition to the hands-on adjustment and release of tension in the joints, chiropractors provide a variety of traditional therapies depending on the patient’s case:
- Hot and cold therapy
- Electrical stimulation to interrupt pain signals
- Patient education about postural alignment and healthy habits
- Regular exercise and stretching recommendations
- Techniques for relaxation
Chiropractors use a holistic way of approaching the treatment process. Holistic treatment is a way of evaluating and treating the entire body and mind at the same time.
How Does Holistic Treatment for Pain Issues Work?
Holistic is a term that just means “whole-body.” In terms of chiropractic care, it means that a chiropractor never treats an issue without considering the factors that influence it. For example, you might be experiencing pain in your lower back. An examination might show that there’s some inflammation and discomfort. The chiropractor would consider how the surrounding tissues and joints are affected by the inflammation, and how the rest of the body is related to the inflammatory process, and how the patient’s history and lifestyle and diet might affect the condition.
A chiropractor’s baseline knowledge is in how the musculoskeletal system fits together. They know when bones are aligned right, and they know what it looks like when the skeleton or the muscles aren’t aligned right. They can use the baseline of alignment to examine and identify problems in a patient’s current alignment. From there, they’ve studied how to safely move joints to release tension without damaging the soft tissues or the bones.
But this doesn’t just apply to the back. They’ll be able to examine your neck if you have neck pain and see whether anything is misaligned there. For those experiencing pain in their finger joints or wrists, manipulation can sometimes help with this as well. Chiropractic care has been shown to be particularly effective for individuals who have suffered a musculoskeletal injury, as the treatment moves the skeleton back to where it was supposed to be prior to the trauma.
In addition, chiropractors will consider both potential medicinal and environmental causes. Poor posture can contribute significantly to neck pain, back pain, and even pain in the legs. Educating patients on posture and different flexibility stretches can help the patient be proactive about their recovery at home.
Treatment for pain or joint disorders by a chiropractor will typically include some variation of the following:
- Physical examination
- Questions about the patient’s problems
- Family history
- Additional diagnostic imaging tests if needed
- Explanation of the musculoskeletal issue or issues
- Treatment plan for joint adjustments to relieve tension
- Diet and nutritional advice
- Stretches and exercises to help alleviate the pain
- Referrals to other professionals if needed
To get a holistic evaluation of your pain-related needs, give us a call at 205-637-1363.