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Many studies have concluded that the manual therapies commonly used by chiropractors are effective for the treatment of  back pain, as well as for treatment of lumbar herniated disc, and neck pain, among other conditions. According to the American Chiropractic Association, 31 million Americans are experiencing lower back pain at any given time. New guidelines from the American Medical Association (AMA) suggest that people with lower back pain, in many cases, should see chiropractors first instead of conventional medical doctors, because chiropractors are experts in musculoskeletal conditions.

Chiropractic care is rooted in the belief that the body has the capability to heal itself from the inside out when the spine is properly aligned. Chiropractic is a health care profession dedicated to the non-surgical treatment of disorders of the nervous system and/or musculoskeletal system and by and large is a natural treatment modality. It does not rely on the use of medications, invasive procedures, or surgeries to bring about positive results to a patient’s health. The initials “DC” identify a chiropractor, whose education typically includes an undergraduate degree plus four years of chiropractic college. If a chiropractor diagnosis a potentially serious injury, they will typically refer the patient to a relevant medical specialist, and as appropriate the chiropractor may co-manage the patient’s care with other back pain specialists.

Hands-on adjustment of the spine and surrounding structures, called spinal manipulation, is the basis of chiropractic care. Chiropractic doctors check the spine for bones, or vertebrae, that have moved out of position, and work to restore alignment to the spine by using various methods to nudge wayward vertebrae back into place. Practitioners perform spinal manipulation by using their hands or a device to apply a controlled force to a joint of the spine. The manual manipulation, can be a high-velocity, short lever arm thrust that is applied to abnormal vertebra with the goal of improving functionality, reducing nerve irritability and restoring range of motion in the back. The amount of force applied depends on the form of manipulation used. The goal of the treatment is to relieve pain and improve physical functioning.

Although it’s true that the work of chiropractors is spinal-centric, the corrective manipulation or adjustment that chiropractors employ can have a wide-ranging effect. Chiropractors treat the spine, and the spine houses the nervous system. The nervous system makes absolutely everything in your body work. Often with a chiropractic adjustment, all kinds of symptoms change and often get better. Chiropractors say that physical, chemical, or psychological stressors can bring about spinal misalignment. Individuals who must repeatedly twist to one side during their working hours, for example, can experience microtraumas. Exposure to toxins in food and the environment can also lead to poorly positioned vertebrae, because it throws off the body’s chemical balance and causes changes within muscles. Stress, because it induces muscular tension, can trigger a cascade effect that adversely affects the spine and overall health.

Chiropractic adjustment can be effective when it’s performed by someone trained and licensed to deliver chiropractic care. Serious complications associated with chiropractic adjustment are rare but it is important to consult with your primary healthcare provider for further advice on how to treat your specific health needs. He or she will be able to provide you with the best guidance regarding the treatment for any conditions you may experience and whether chiropractic should be viewed as a helpful supplementation to your standard health care routines.

For more information, here is Chiropractic: In Depth from the National Center for Integrated Health:

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We exist to inform and educate those suffering from temporary or chronic pain to find alternative science-based solutions free from addictive drug treatments and invasive procedures.