Full-service chiropractic care has a lot of misunderstanding and myth surrounding it. Many people think anyone can call themselves a chiropractor and that you just need to go through a simple licensing process. You might even think it’s a pseudo treatment that doesn’t work.
None of this is true. In fact, chiropractors go through extensive training processes and substantial evidence exists that supports its benefits. However, there are a few risks to chiropractic care and you should be aware of them before committing to a treatment plan.
The best full-service chiropractors use instruments or their hands to manipulate the joints in the body manually. You can also call what a chiropractor does spinal or joint manipulation. These methods can potentially reduce pain and correct body posture.
Doctors often refer patients to physical therapists immediately. However, those seeking alternative therapies can go to acupuncturists, massage therapists, or chiropractors to supplement or replace traditional therapeutic methods.
The verdict is still out on the role of chiropractic care and whether it can be considered a viable alternative to therapies such as surgery and pain medication. There is also limited research supporting or refuting these therapies. Because of the lack of sufficient evidence, many questions remain regarding the role of chiropractors.
Should it be reserved for people who don’t improve with other treatments? For example, are people likely to improve with chiropractic care? Should it be routine?
The answer to these questions also has to account for other factors, such as the glaring need for alternative treatments. With $200 billion in costs of care for low back pain per year in the US and the growing opioid epidemic, it’s worth asking whether the rewards of chiropractic care outweigh the risks.
A common myth held by many is that chiropractic care arbitrarily cracks bones and joints. That’s not true. Chiropractic care primarily refers to spinal manipulation. But it goes beyond superficial cracking. The spinal cord contains the central nervous system. So much of chiropractic care aims to discover how the manipulation of the spine can affect the body’s other functions.
Yes, chiropractors want to cure low back pain, whiplash-related conditions such as headaches, and neck pain. But they also try to affect nervous system conditions such as neuropathy.
A 2010 review cited by the NIH suggested that spinal manipulation may help treat back pain, migraine headaches, whiplash, and other nervous system disorders affecting the upper and lower extremities.
However, as a 2006 Gallup report shows, chiropractic care rates, last among health professions concerning ethics and honesty. Why is that? Another concerning fact is the numerous class action lawsuits against chiropractors for neck adjustments.
These conflicting facts again speak to the glaring need for more research regarding the efficacy of chiropractic care. It also suggests there may be a need for more standard approaches to the field. Without knowing the full effects and efficacy of chiropractic care, it’s difficult to tell what accounts for the lawsuit. Incompetence? Common mistakes?
Chiropractors should gently perform their adjustments so patients shouldn’t feel pain afterward. Patients go to chiropractors to experience relief. Some soreness may occur in the adjustment area, but this typically disappears within 24 hours.
Many consider chiropractic care a pseudo-science that doesn’t require extensive training. However, chiropractors have to complete about eight years of education before they receive their licensing. Bachelor’s degrees are not required to obtain your chiropractic license, but most chiropractors have them.
Chiropractors typically graduate with pre-med majors after taking science undergraduate courses such as biology, chemistry, psychology, and physics. After receiving their bachelor’s degree, they attend a chiropractic graduate program, which involves four years of education with 4,200 instructional hours.
Chiropractic visits can result in more pain before you begin to feel relief. However, some severe complications can arise from chiropractic care.
Chiropractic care done incorrectly can result in the following serious complications:
- Herniated disc
- Compression of nerves in the lower spine
- Some types of stroke after manipulation
You should not seek chiropractic adjustment if you have the following conditions:
- Cancer in your spine
- An increased risk of stroke
- A known bone abnormality in the neck.
- Severe osteoporosis
Chiropractic adjustments can result in decreased back pain. However, the research conducted only shows modest benefits. Not everyone responds to back and neck adjustments. If your symptoms don’t improve after several weeks of treatment, it might not be the best therapy for you.
Your treatment will depend on your individual needs and treatment plan. Some patients may only require a specified amount of time to visit their chiropractor. Others will need ongoing treatment. Some patients may need to visit the chiropractor once while others will require treatment three times a week. Your chiropractor will go over your treatment plan with you in detail.
While you can experience some pain post-adjustment, you shouldn’t feel this pain worsen as you continue your treatment. There are also potential complications that can arise such as herniated discs. If you have conditions such as osteoporosis, you should not seek chiropractic care.
We still need research to determine the efficacy of chiropracfgtic adjustments. Preliminary research shows that chiropractic adjustments can help with lower back pain. However, not enough research exists to determine the full extent.
The bottom line is that chiropractic adjustments shouldn’t hurt you more than they help. If you experience more pain than pain relief, something is wrong and you need to consider choosing another chiropractor or abandoning this treatment method altogether.
While there may be some risks to chiropractic adjustments, the reliance on pain medication, the opioid epidemic, and the prevalence of back pain suggest there needs to be more of a push to alternative treatment methods such as chiropractic care.