Will Chiropractic Adjustments Hurt?

Chiropractic adjustments, also known as spinal manipulations, are a procedure in which a joint is moved past its usual range of motion in daily life. The purpose of chiropractic adjustment is to improve your body’s functioning and alleviate pain.

Adjustments are most commonly made to joints in your back, but also to joints of the neck or other parts of the body, such as the shoulders. You may be treated by a chiropractor in order to correct such conditions as:

• Neck, back, shoulder, arm, hand, chest, leg, or foot pain and stiffness
• Headaches
• Sciatica
• Arthritis
• Trauma, such as whiplash
• Scoliosis
• Sports injuries
• Repetitive strain disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome
• Fibromyalgia

Moving the joint beyond its range of motion sounds painful, doesn’t it? However, the joint is not moved beyond the range of motion it is naturally designed to move in the body. You may feel pressure or mild discomfort, and the discomfort may be greater if there is significant inflammation or tension around the joint being treated. However, chiropractic adjustments should not be painful.

If you are new to chiropractic medicine, you may have a harder time relaxing during the procedure than more experienced patients. If you stiffen or resist the adjustment, you may feel some discomfort. However as you get used to the procedures you should find not only that the discomfort decreases, but that you may feel relief and a sense of well-being after the adjustment I completed.

During the procedure, you will be placed in a certain position to treat the affected areas. Usually you will be lying face down on a padded table. There may be popping or cracking noises during the adjustment, as the joint is moved. These noises are the result of the release of tiny pockets of gas during the procedure, which is completely normal. In fact, it’s the same thing that occurs when someone cracks their knuckles.

After the procedure, you may feel some soreness or aching in the muscles or spinal joints. If it occurs, this kind of discomfort usually happens within the first few hours of treatment. It should not last longer than 24 hours (and if it does, be sure to contact your chiropractor for assistance). If you like, you can place an ice pack on the affected area which should help reduce the symptoms and help you recover more quickly.

In order to be sure you have as pain-free a treatment as possible, be sure you choose a board-certified chiropractor with good patient references. An experienced, competent practitioner will be able to give you the most effective treatment possible with the least amount of discomfort.

References
Chiropractic Adjustment: What you can Expect. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/chiropractic-adjustment/MY01107
Reactions Following a Chiropractic Adjustment. http://www.spine-health.com/treatment/chiropractic/reactions-following-a-chiropractic-adjustment

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Surgery or Chiropractic for Chronic Sciatica Sufferers?

Pain coming from compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve is called sciatica. Sciatica – which can include pain, tingling, numbness and muscle weakness – is really a symptom indicating an underlying problem, not a diagnosis in and of itself.

This article will explore in detail the findings of a recent controlled study comparing spinal manipulation (chiropractic) and surgery for people whose sciatica did not respond to traditional medical treatment approaches.

The study discussed here was conducted by the National Spine Center in Alberta Canada and published in October of 2010 in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics[1]. The 40 study participants all had sciatica lasting over 3 months which had not responded to treatment with pain medications, lifestyle modifications, physical therapy, massage therapy or acupuncture. They had all been referred by their primary care physicians to spinal surgeons who had deemed them appropriate surgery candidates.

Instead of having all the patient proceed with surgery, they were split into two groups – one group to undergo a surgical microdiscectomy and the other group to be treated with standardized chiropractic spinal manipulation by a single chiropractor. (If not satisfied with the results they obtained from their assigned method, the patients were allowed to switch to the other treatment plan after 3 months.)

So what happened? Both groups made significant improvements over baseline scores – meaning that they saw noticeable improvements whereas previous approaches had failed. A full 60% of the study participants benefitted from chiropractic spinal manipulation to the SAME degree as if they underwent surgery. And, after 1 year there was no difference in outcome success based on the treatment method. That means that a full 60% of people referred for surgery by their primary care physicians and accepted as surgical candidates by the neurosurgeon could actually get similar results with chiropractic. That is a lot of potentially unnecessary cutting, anesthesia and ER time.

There is one paragraph in the results section of this study that is easy to overlook, but incredibly important. There were originally 120 candidates of which 60 met the study criteria and were asked to participate. Of these 60, 20 refused. Why? Because they had never been offered spinal manipulation as an alternative to surgery! They didn’t want to participate in the study and be randomly placed in the surgery group without first trying the spinal manipulation! This is incredibly telling. Not only does it demonstrate that there is still a lot of education about chiropractic that needs to happen among the public and among primary care providers, it also demonstrates that people understand the risks and costs of surgery and want to exhaust other possibilities first.

This was the first study to ever look at people who had failed traditional medical management of sciatica. Currently most patients that fail ‘conservative care’ are referred for a surgical evaluation. Now we know that 60% of these folks could avoid surgery and get similar long-term outcomes with chiropractic.

Please share this article with anyone considering surgery for sciatica.

[1] McMorland G, Suter E, Casha S, du Plessis SJ, Hurlbert RJ., Manipulation or microdiskectomy for sciatica? A prospective randomized clinical study. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2010; Oct;33(8):576-84.

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Recent Study Demonstrates Chiropractic Care Lowers Healthcare Costs

The study in the December 2010 issue of JMPT entitled “Cost of Care for Common Back Pain Conditions Initiated with Chiropractic Doctor vs. Medical Doctor as First Physician” showed that the chiropractic patients had 20% percent lower healthcare costs than the medical patients. Dr. Rick McMichael, a chiropractor who is the ACA president stated: “As Doctors of Chiropractic, we know firsthand that our care often helps patients avoid or reduce more costly interventions such as drugs or surgery. It also demonstrates the value of chiropractic care at a critical time, when our nation is attempting to reform its health care system and contain runaway costs”.

Many previous studies have demonstrated that as well as lowering costs, patients who utilize chiropractic care are very satisfied with their care and would recommend chiropractic care for a family member or a friend.

The next time your back “goes out”, you should see your chiropractor instead of your medical doctor.

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