Systematic reviews of systematic trials of therapeutic treatments used by licensed chiropractors have shown no evidence that chiropractic therapy is effective. In a meta-analysis of chiropractic therapies, chiropractors did not show evidence that the therapies were effective for pain, backache or other complaints. A number of studies also showed that chiropractic was more likely to be successful in treating complaints that did not require a visit to the chiropractor.
In controlled trials, chiropractors have shown limited effectiveness for treating spine conditions such as whiplash, cervical spondylosis and neck pain. A meta-analysis of spine manipulation demonstrated that combined spinal manipulation and non-surgical treatment were less effective at relieving symptoms than massage, physical therapy and chiropractic. While chiropractic was successful at reducing pain and stiffness, the studies that compared chiropractic to other treatments did not support the claim that the treatments had a significant benefit over other therapies.
Chiropractors can be helpful in addressing some spine conditions such as whiplash, neck pain and arthritis. These conditions are often caused by damage to the vertebrae in the neck, back or shoulder. Chiropractors can provide spinal adjustments, which may relieve neck and shoulder pain and help restore range of motion. Chiropractors are good at treating pain due to arthritis because they use manipulation, traction and other techniques designed to help reduce inflammation. If your doctor prescribes prescription medications or surgery, it is important to research other alternatives to relief the pain before you decide on one form of therapy or another.
While you may be hesitant about visiting a chiropractor's office, there are benefits to the treatment. Many patients report that they feel better after having a spinal adjustment. When your chiropractor provides spinal decompression therapy, he or she may insert a thin flexible tube into your body or use a device known as an endoscope. The endoscope penetrates your entire body and provides compression to the areas of your spine where pain is felt. For example, if you experience pain in your neck or back, your chiropractor might put your head in a position that allows the endoscope to provide compression while using gentle, rhythmic rocking motions on your neck and spine to loosen or release tight muscles.
Manipulation can also relieve pain caused by injury and strain to the back. If your chiropractor uses manipulation, he or she will use a manual or electronic device known as a spinal decompression device. to reduce pain from a slipped disc or herniated disc. In the case of a herniated disc, your chiropractor might recommend that you lie down on your stomach with your back slightly bent and your legs on top of the floor. He or she then applies pressure to the disc with a rotating motion, allowing the fluid to travel through the disc until it is drained. Your chiropractor may also perform spinal manipulation on your spinal cord to release muscle spasms resulting from diseases like fibromyalgia.
Even though spine conditions are relatively common, they are often hard to diagnose unless they become chronic and difficult to treat. For this reason, when a health care provider decides that chiropractic therapy is the best choice for you, he or she will discuss with you the risks and benefits of undergoing the treatment.
Jefferson Spine & Injury Center
611 S Carlin Springs Rd #204
Arlington, VA 22204
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