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What is Chiropractic Care?

Chiropractic care is a treatment method that typically involves hands-on spinal manipulation to treat health problems connected to the joints, bones, muscles, and nerves of the body. A health care professional who renders chiropractic care is known as a chiropractor. A chiropractor focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of neuromuscular and musculoskeletal disorders, with an emphasis on manual therapy.

Chiropractic care emphasizes on the body’s ability to heal itself with proper alignment of the body's musculoskeletal structure, especially the spine, through manual adjustment and/or manipulation without the need for medication or surgery. Manipulation is utilized to restore joint mobility limited by tissue injury caused by a traumatic event, such as a fall or a repetitive stress injury. Other forms of alternative treatments, such as nutritional counseling and exercise/rehabilitation, may be utilized as well during chiropractic care.

Low back pain is the most common issue for which patients seek chiropractic care, along with neck pain and headache. Chiropractic care may also help individuals with other musculoskeletal related pains. It is sometimes utilized in combination with standard medical treatment.

Working Mechanism of Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic medicine is based on the belief that misalignments in the spinal joints interfere with the nervous system resulting in lower resistance to diseases and disorders of the nerves, muscles, and organs. They work on the principle of a manual, hands-on manipulation technique to adjust imbalances and misalignments in the joints, especially in the spinal column.

Conditions Treated by Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care can basically be employed to treat painful conditions involving the bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and the nervous system. It is mainly used as an alternative treatment to reduce or eliminate pain and improve overall functionality. Chiropractic care can be used to treat:

  • Spine pain
  • Pelvic pain
  • Back pain
  • Neck pain 
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Arm and shoulder pain
  • Leg and hip pain
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Overuse injuries
  • Strains and sprains
  • Sports and work-related injuries

Who is Not a Good Candidate for Chiropractic Care?

You should not receive chiropractic care if you have any of the following:

  • Severe arthritis
  • Severe osteoporosis (thinning of the bones)
  • Severely pinched nerves
  • Joint or bone infections
  • Bone tumors or bone fractures

Preparation for Chiropractic Care

At your first visit, your chiropractor will review your health history and perform a thorough physical examination with special attention to your spine. Additionally, lab tests or diagnostic imaging may also be ordered to determine if chiropractic care is appropriate for your condition. The screening process undertaken by your chiropractor is meant to assess if you might be at risk of any underlying condition that would put you at high risk for chiropractic care. Make sure to discuss your past medical history and all your symptoms with your chiropractor.

What Happens During Chiropractic Treatment?

During a standard chiropractic manipulation/adjustment, your chiropractor places you in specific positions to treat the affected regions. Usually, you are placed in a face-down position on a specially designed, padded chiropractic table to manipulate the spine. Your chiropractor utilizes his or her hands to apply a controlled and sudden force to the muscles, bones, and joints of the spine, pushing it beyond its normal range of motion. During the course of this, your muscles are pulled and stretched in different directions and your joints are gradually moved into different positions. You may hear cracking or popping sounds as your chiropractor manipulates your joints during the treatment session. 

The main objective of the manipulations is to enhance joint motion and function. Even though manipulations are most often done on the spine, other regions of the body may also be treated in this fashion.

Risks of Chiropractic Care

Although chiropractic care is a safe treatment, some risks and side effects may occur, such as:

  • Pain
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Stiffness
  • Slipped disc