If you’re suffering from back or neck pain, headaches, sciatica, or other muscle and joint issues, you may benefit from a chiropractic adjustment. Chiropractors focus on disorders of the neuromuscular system and use non-invasive techniques to help your body heal itself.
What Is a Chiropractor?
Chiropractors are doctors who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of problems related to the muscles, nerves, joints, bones, and connective tissue. They focus on the spine but also treat the extremities. Their approach is holistic with an emphasis on preventative care and improving overall function. Chiropractors don’t perform surgery or prescribe medication. Instead, they use manual spinal adjustments and other alternative treatments to align the body properly and stimulate the body’s self-healing abilities.
What Does a Chiropractic Adjustment Involve?
A chiropractic adjustment, also called spinal manipulation, involves applying a controlled force to specific, slightly movable joints in the spine that are not moving properly or are stuck in place. This is meant to improve mobility and alignment. A chiropractor uses their hands or a hand-held instrument to apply a directed, gentle thrust. Patients typically feel immediate relief. You may also hear popping noises as gas pockets are released around the joints.
Why Might I Need an Adjustment?
There are many potential causes of spinal misalignments leading to impaired nervous system functioning. Reasons patients see a chiropractor include:
- Injuries from accidents falls, improper lifting, sports
- Repetitive motions from bad posture at work or using computers/phones
- Arthritis, aging, osteoporosis
- Pregnancy puts extra weight and strain on the body
- Muscle tension from mental stress and anxiety
Patients often seek chiropractic treatment after other medical approaches have failed to help ongoing issues like chronic pain. Chiropractors take a whole-body approach to identify root causes and not just symptoms. An adjustment helps get your body properly realigned to move and function optimally.
What Conditions Can Chiropractors Treat?
Chiropractors can treat many musculoskeletal conditions related to spinal misalignments or nervous system interference, including:
- Neck pain, back pain, radiating pain in limbs
- Headaches, migraines
- Herniated discs, nerve compression
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Tendonitis, sprains/strains
Pediatric patients may receive gentle chiropractic care for issues like scoliosis, growth and developmental problems, and asthma.
What Methods Do Chiropractors Use?
In addition to manual spinal manipulation and mobilization, chiropractors may provide other alternative treatments including:
- Spinal decompression therapy
- Heat/ice therapy to relieve pain and swelling
- Electrotherapy like ultrasound or electrical stimulation
- Flexion-distraction technique using a specialized table
- Exercise and stretches
- Soft tissue therapies like massage, instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization, or Graston technique
What Is Their Training and Education?
After obtaining four years of undergraduate pre-medical education, chiropractors complete four to five years of specialized training at an accredited chiropractic college. They study subjects like anatomy, physiology, nutrition, radiology, differential diagnosis, manipulative techniques, rehabilitation, and more. Chiropractic education emphasizes hands-on clinical training under supervision like medical school. After graduating, they must pass national board exams and state licensing exams to practice. Chiropractors are considered primary healthcare providers and can diagnose, treat, and prevent illness or injury.
How Long is Chiropractic Treatment?
Every patient is different. Acute conditions may resolve quickly through a few visits while chronic issues may require a longer treatment plan of several weeks to months tailored to your needs. Your chiropractor should discuss expected timeframes and progress with you. Periodic maintenance care may also help prevent future problems. Some patients find that monthly or quarterly visits keep pain and dysfunction away. Staying committed to the recommended regimen provides the greatest benefit.
The hands-on adjustments that chiropractors specialize in make multiple visits over time necessary and effective. Research confirms that chiropractic care offers safe, natural relief improving quality of life for those suffering from musculoskeletal problems.