The mobilization of the spine is the primary focus of chiropractic care and the responsibility of the chiropractor that is treating you. First time back pain sufferers typically consult with a family physician first before visiting a chiropractor. This may be attributed to some of the controversies regarding this alternative healing practice. It is well documented that opinions vary regarding how effective this type of medical care is. However, one thing is certain. If it wasn’t an effective treatment, then over 22 million Americans who visit chiropractors on an annual basis would never visit them for treatment.
Chiropractic associations and many individual chiropractors tout the efficacy of chiropractic care. Many opponents feel that the claims made by these groups and individuals are totally unsubstantiated. Despite the fact that countless numbers of research studies have been conducted regarding chiropractic treatments, these opponents feel that the results of those studies are conflicting at best. So what do we know about this type of alternative healing methods and techniques?
The manipulative and manual therapies practiced by licensed chiropractors are as effective as other types of treatment and certainly more effective than getting a prescription for pain medications. Taking pain pills is merely a bandaid and does not address or treat the actual cause of lower back pain. However, it has been suggested that chiropractic treatments can be effective for treating lumbar disc herniation and radiculopathy, which is a set of neuropathic conditions that affect nerve function. Additionally, chiropractic treatments are used to relieve extremity joint conditions, neck pain, and some types of headaches.
It should be noted that most of the research studies have primarily focused on the practice of spinal manipulation, and not chiropractic manipulation. This is another source of criticism for those who oppose the use of chiropractic care. However, the individual authors who have written different reviews did not view this as a significant research element. They also concluded that correct spinal manipulation is beneficial regardless of which licensed chiropractic is performing it.
The overall conclusion is that Spinal Manipulative Therapy, or SMT as it is oftentimes referred to, has been shown to be effective for a number ailments associated with the spine. This includes conditions of the extremities, headaches including migraines, low back pain, neck pain and whiplash, and radiculopathy. Research was also conducted into the efficacy of SMT for relieving pain in the arms, legs, and neck.
Additionally, another conclusion that has come out of the different studies showed that chiropractic care is generally safe when it is practiced in an appropriate and skillful fashion. In addition to the above, sustained care is very effective as a preventative measure and it is viewed as being extremely cost-effective, even when used in conjunction with other forms of treatment or by itself.
Dr. Paul Curcio
Chiropractic Family Health Centre