All too often we think of a chiropractor as the kind of doctors we’ve seen in viral videos online, where a doctor or therapist has a patient lie on their couch before they manipulate the patient’s back and joints until they pop and crack.
But a chiropractor isn’t the master of torture you might think they are! Instead, a visit to a chiropractor could work wonders for you if you’ve had a back, neck or joint pain. This article will show you the many chiropractor benefits that help millions of Americans every year.
What does a Chiropractor Do?
A chiropractor is a licensed, trained doctor who specializes in the treatment of the neuromuscular system.
Chiropractic therapy works on the premise that mechanical disorders of the spine and the misalignment of vertebrae and joints can be the root cause of a whole host of other problems, usually resulting in chronic and often unmanageable pain.
A chiropractor can diagnose and treat several of these issues relating, but not excluded, to: back pain, tight muscles, poor posture and other joint pain. Visiting a chiropractor is a popular choice for those who have suffered injury but who wish to encourage healing without the use of medication or elective surgery.
Research suggests patients suffering from chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia also find great relief in chiropractic treatment.
So, could a chiropractor help you?
When Should You See a Chiropractor?
A chiropractor can help you after you’ve had an injury and can even prevent injury from happening in the first place.
By visiting a chiropractor, particularly if you have suffered a back or neck injury, you may find it is an effective treatment for relieving pain. Not only that, but there are chiropractic benefits related to the healing of the injury, too.
Let’s take a look at some of the kinds of injuries a chiropractor could help heal.
One of the most common reasons a patient may be referred by a doctor or individually seek out the help of a chiropractor is because they have suffered a whiplash accident.
Whiplash occurs when the head and neck are quickly thrust forward and then back again. This is called hyperflexion and hyperextension, and usually occurs in a sudden unexpected accident; for instance, being in a car accident or even being thrust forward and backward on a roller coaster ride.
Along with the pain that comes from the impact of the injury, whiplash patients often report chronic pain for a while afterwards because their muscles and joints suffer from restricted movement.
Once they have located the problem, a chiropractor will perform gentle spinal manipulation and get the neck moving again. This helps to increase blood flow to the area, increasing movement and promoting quicker healing.
Shooting Leg Pains
As we get older, simply sitting in a bad position or even standing up from the couch can result in injury, particularly if we are less active than we used to be.
One of the common causes for this kind of injury is a pinched sciatic nerve. This occurs when a misalignment of the spine creates pressure on the nerves that run down the back of the legs. The pain from sciatica can be debilitating and can leave you unable to do much more than lie on your back and wait for the pain to subside.
A trip to a chiropractor can mean the pressure in your back is released, so that there is no longer pressure put onto the sciatic nerve. Once you’re free of pain and can move freely once more, your original injury can heal much more quickly.
A slipped, or herniated, disc, occurs when one or more of the slim, rubbery disks between the bony vertebrae of the spin slips out of place.
When it presses against the spinal cord, it can result in excruciating pain. Gentle spine manipulation by a chiropractor can ease the disc back where it belongs, away from the nerves that cause the pain.
There are some conditions that cause chronic back and leg pain which may not even necessarily be the result of a specific injury.
Acute pain as a result from an isolated incident is naturally easy to diagnose, but often more debilitating but less obvious are the kinds of injuries that build up slowly, over time.
For example, sitting in a bad position, walking with slumped shoulders, or even sleeping in a bed that does not provide adequate support can all wreak havoc with muscles and joints, leaving us in chronic pain.
The first thing that may prompt you to visit a chiropractor could be that your shoes wear out differently on each foot. This means that you’re walking with more pressure on one side than on the other, when they should be equal.
Spinal realignment can work wonders in improving posture and the knock-on effects can relieve pain, in some cases almost immediately. Relieving pressure from the lower back by readjusting the position of the spine takes pressure off nerves, increases blood flow, and allows damaged tissue the chance to repair itself.
Whether it’s tension in your shoulders or a trapped nerve in your neck, you may suffer from debilitating headaches.
While you should always consult your doctor if you’re experiencing headaches, if they conduct the necessary tests and suggest that your problem is related to your back and neck, they may refer you to a chiropractor.
By easing muscle spasms or releasing pressure on trapped nerves, a chiropractor can help restore blood flow to the head and neck, bringing with it the vital oxygen your head needs so as not to hold you in the grip of a tension headache.
All too often, we treat pain with medication that dull our pain receptors for a little while and give us temporary relief. However, this is hardly ever a good idea for the long term.
Over time, you can build up a tolerance to painkillers, resulting in your needing stronger and stronger medications that can become so addictive you end up dependent on them.
One way to help heal from medication dependence is to locate the source of the pain, the reason you reached for the pills in the first place.
Old car injuries that were never dealt with, broken bones that were not set properly, or simply poor lifestyle choices can cause our bodies to weaken over time, resulting in chronic pain.
A chiropractor can help give you a thorough once-over from head to toe, to get to the root of what is causing your chronic pain. Sometimes it may be as simple as a muscular or spinal readjustment.
Other times further investigation and other treatments are necessary. But it is always advisable to find the root of your pain, and a chiropractor may very well be able to assist in this regard.
Low Mood and Depression
It can be a vicious cycle: pain from injury results in us feeling depressed, which means we feel unmotivated and unable to get up and exercise, causing further pain, which causes further depression.
Stress can also be caused by an imbalance of the nervous system. By realigning our spine, we can take pressure off certain parts of our system, we can reduce blood pressure, increase oxygen flow and give our bodies the chance to heal.
With a gentle spinal readjustment, a chiropractor can give you back the physical ability to resume exercise so that both your body and your mind can begin to heal.
How a Chiropractor can Help Prevent Injuries
Nobody can predict the future, of course, and accidents happen. However, a chiropractor can help recommend exercises that will keep your joints moving and your whole body active, so that you can greatly reduce the likelihood of sudden muscle strain.
Muscles need to move, or they will waste away. With more than 600 muscles in our bodies, it stands to reason that we need to remain as active and as mobile as possible for as long as possible, in order for us to keep in good health.
So, even if you’re not currently nursing an injury or you aren’t currently in any pain, it doesn’t hurt to get a chiropractor’s opinion on the subject of exercises, stretches, and correct posture.
Is Chiropractic Treatment a Pseudo-Science?
Since the first known chiropractor, D. D. Palmer introduced his treatments at the end of the nineteenth century, there has been some skepticism surrounding the effectiveness of such a therapy.
However, given the millions of Americans who have experienced pain relief, rapid injury repair and reduced use of painkillers, it would appear that at least for some, visiting a chiropractor has greatly aided them in the healing of their injuries.
As a self standing treatment therapy in conjunction with other medical treatment, you may indeed find that a chiropractor’s gentle hands can work wonders for helping to heal injury and reduce pain.