Back pain is the number one reason why Americans visit the chiropractor. Approximately 7.7 million or 35% of Americans seek relief caused by back pain annually. Chiropractors use hands-on spinal manipulation and other alternative treatments in order to control healing processes. The idea behind this is that the proper alignment of the body’s musculoskeletal system will enable the body to heal itself without surgery or medication. Some individuals prefer chiropractic care as an alternative due to its natural approach.
The most common therapeutic procedure performed is known as spinal manipulation or otherwise known as chiropractic adjustment. These adjustments rarely cause discomfort but the patients may sometimes experience mild soreness or aching following treatment that can usually resolve itself within 12 to 48 hours.
There is some criticism towards chiropractic treatment due to its nature. The founder of chiropractic treatment, Daniel D. Palmer, stated that subluxation was the sole cause of disease and manipulation was the cure for all diseases of the human race. Some critical evaluations stated that chiropractic is rooted in mystical concepts. It has battled mainstream medicine for some time and researchers have documented that fraud, abuse, and quackery are more prevalent in chiropractic than any other field of medicine. Some extremely rare cases of spinal manipulation, including those particularly in the upper back, can result in complications that can lead to paralysis and/or death.
Recent research has shown that chiropractic is helpful in treating neck pain and headaches. Studies, however, have not confirmed the effectiveness of prolotherapy or sclerotherapy for pain relief. These therapies involve injections such as sugar water or anesthetic in the hopes of strengthening the ligaments in the back. People who have osteoporosis, spinal cord compression, or inflammatory arthritis should not undergo spinal manipulation.
Chiropractic also heavily emphasizes spinal decompression where the treatment involves the use of a pulling force on the spine that can be used to relieve pressure on the discs and vertebrae in either the lumbar or cervical spine regions. It can be delivered by hand or devices that essentially pull to separate the lower body from the upper body.
It is important to always consult with your primary care physician first to see if chiropractic treatment is the correct path for you or if you need other forms of medical attention.