The Benefits and Risks of Getting a Chiropractic Adjustment
In the US, over one million chiropractic adjustments are performed each day. Why? Because it has serious advantages for your health, and not just for back pain. A chiropractor treats many conditions affecting the nervous system and musculoskeletal system. Think of a chiropractor as a doctor who cares for any kind of muscle, bone, or joint pain or dysfunction.
A chiropractic adjustment is a therapeutic treatment where a licensed chiropractor uses their hands or special instruments to manipulate joints in your body. This treatment is also called spinal manipulation or joint manipulation. A chiropractic adjustment can help reduce pain and correct your body's alignment and how your body functions physically. Chiropractic adjustments offer treatment that complements the traditional medical care you receive. We'll cover the long-term benefits of chiropractic adjustment along with potential risks.
Benefits of Chiropractic Adjustments
A single chiropractic adjustment can change the way you think about health, wellness, and your body. People are increasingly seeking out the noninvasive, effective, and holistic care provided by chiropractors. There are many benefits of a chiropractic adjustment, such as:
May Help Manage Blood Pressure
Many research studies have shown that chiropractic treatment helps regulate blood pressure. If you take pills to regulate blood pressure, they can cause side effects like nausea, dizziness, anxiety, and fatigue. A chiropractic adjustment, on the other hand, is a natural and safe treatment that does not lead to any side effects. If you want to improve your blood pressure naturally, choose chiropractic care.
Pain Reduction and Pain Relief
One of the best benefits of chiropractic care is that it can release tension. Tension is caused by a variety of different issues, such as stress, and results in your nervous system restricting blood flow to certain areas. This leads to a lack of oxygen which can then result in tense muscles. By adjusting your body, especially the spine, a chiropractor can reduce tension. After each adjustment, blood flow will return to the area, which can help the affected muscles recover.
Chiropractic treatment for pain rests on the principle that healing will occur as a natural function of the body once it is in correct alignment. Conversely, misalignment will lead to excess strain and wear on the body, resulting in pain. Misalignment can occur over time as the result of bad posture, repetitive activities (such as performing certain sports or occupations), and degenerative disease. It may also happen suddenly due to trauma from a road accident, a fall, or a particular sports injury.
In addition to pain relief, chiropractic treatment aims to restore natural functioning and range of motion to the problem area. In practice, the two go hand-in-hand. Pain occurs in the shoulder, for example, because of a lack of movement from an injury or strain, and once this is treated, the shoulder will be both pain-free and able to move normally.
Chiropractic Adjustment for Sciatica
Compared to most medical treatments, few interventions can initiate back pain relief and healing like chiropractic adjustments can. A randomized, double-blind trial published in the Spine Journal comparing active versus simulated chiropractic manipulations on patients with sciatic nerve pain who were residing in rehabilitation medical centers found that active manipulations had more effect than simulated manipulations. Active manipulations reduced the number of days patients experienced moderate or severe back pain and other sciatica symptoms and also caused no reported adverse effects.
Chiropractic Adjustment for Scoliosis
Scoliosis is a condition where there is an abnormal curvature of the spine. This can cause pain, abnormal posture, a reduction in your range of motion, and even trouble breathing.
Most scoliosis patients have few options for treatment. But a chiropractic adjustment has been shown to help treat scoliosis patients.
Chiropractic treatment combined with physical therapy could help treat and prevent the progression of scoliosis. The effectiveness of this treatment option varies from patient to patient, but it is a viable option.
Chiropractic Adjustment for Neck Pain
Chiropractors specialize in treating conditions of the spine and musculoskeletal system. They use manual manipulation of the spine and joints, as well as other soft tissue treatments, to correct any imbalances, improve function, and relieve pain. People with neck pain often find that chiropractic care helps to relieve their pain and prevent pain in the future. You can gain a greater range of movement from undergoing chiropractic adjustments and other forms of chiropractic treatment. Chiropractic care might be combined with other treatments or on its own to help with neck pain, whether chronic or short-term.
A chiropractor might use a number of different treatments for neck pain. These include chiropractic adjustments, exercise recommendations, active release techniques, soft tissue manipulation, laser therapy, and different chiropractic treatments. A chiropractic adjustment for the neck may involve using short and fast movements to manipulate the neck, correct misalignments, and relieve tension. This can produce a cracking sound as trapped gas is released from around the joints.
When treating the neck, chiropractors often use gentle chiropractic methods. This gentle form of chiropractic adjustment offers several benefits. It's a good choice for anyone who might not like the feel or sound of their neck cracking. It might also be used if you have difficulty relaxing.
Chiropractic Adjustment for Low Back Pain
According to the American Chiropractic Association, 80 percent of Americans will experience lower-back pain at some point. Back pain can cause people to miss time at work, time with family, and time doing the things they enjoy. What's more, many people end up being referred for costly surgeries that come with long recovery times when back pain doesn't go away on its own.
A chiropractic adjustment is a low-cost, noninvasive alternative to surgery for back pain. Adjustments work for new back pain, chronic back pain, mild back pain, and severe back pain. In a 2019 study looking at 50 active-duty military personnel suffering from back pain, researchers found that those who underwent chiropractic treatments experienced reduced pain intensity, less disability, more improvement in function, higher satisfaction with their treatment, and reduced need for pain medicine with no side effects. These results are repeated every day in chiropractic offices around the country!
So many people today can actually feel the stress of life coursing through their bodies. Chronic inflammation can be detrimental to your health if it's not addressed. In addition to making you feel miserable today, inflammation can actually increase your risks for inflammation-linked diseases like:
Chronic inflammation causes the immune system to stay in a state of "constant attack." As a result, it churns out white blood cells that keep your body in fighting mode. The danger of this is that your white blood cells are very likely to end up attacking your healthy organs and tissue. The reason why chiropractic adjustments help with inflammation is that they promote a healthy, balanced nervous system. Much of the body's immune response actually originates in the nervous system.
Misalignments within the spine that cause blockages are called subluxations. Subluxations actually cause inflammation-producing blockages that restrict the flow of blood and nutrients throughout the body. A chiropractic adjustment is one of the best ways to remove a subluxation by gently realigning shifted vertebrae back into proper alignment.
Headache and Migraine Relief
While most people think of the neck and back when they think of adjustments, many people swear by chiropractic adjustments for headache relief! Tension and migraine headaches can both be caused by blockages and misalignments within the spine. In many cases, tension radiating upward from an undetected subluxation is responsible for chronic headaches. There are hundreds of studies documenting the benefits of chiropractic adjustments for headache management.
A 2019 analysis looking at the integration of chiropractic care into migraine treatment in mainstream hospital settings found that patients reported positive outcomes like improvement in pain scores, increase in pain-free days, decreased medication usage, and decreased anxiety following adjustments.
Yes, chiropractors are licensed healthcare practitioners who spend 3 to 5 years training for the profession. However, if you have spine cancer, severe osteoporosis, bone abnormalities, or numbness in the limbs, check with your doctor first since these conditions increase the risk of side effects like herniated discs or nerve compression.
Additionally, when chiropractic care is compared to other common treatments for pain-related issues, it is considered one of the safest options out there. This is because chiropractic treatment is holistically based and noninvasive, which always comes with fewer risks than medications, injections, or even surgery.
The biggest factor that plays a role in getting safety adjusted is by choosing a properly trained chiropractor. Anyone that has gone through the rigors of chiropractic school is more than qualified to help you with issues related to pain, misalignment, insomnia, injury, poor movement patterns, posture, and more.
Chiropractic Adjustment Risks and Side Effects
Like any treatment, there are, of course, some risks involved when it comes to chiropractic spinal manipulation.
While chiropractic care is considered low risk, some potential side effects may appear. Some chiropractic adjustment side effects include:
Temporary increase in joint pain
Muscle soreness after a chiropractic adjustment (resolved in about 24 hours)
Most patients experience relief immediately following a chiropractic adjustment, but some can still feel mild aches or soreness. Similar to muscle soreness after exercise, it typically occurs within the first few hours after treatment. It is recommended to use an ice pack to reduce the symptoms.
If you want help with your neck pain, neck manipulation is known to be a safe procedure. However, some patients may experience side effects such as headache, fatigue, or continuing pain.
In rare cases, chiropractic adjustments can cause:
Stroke due to neck manipulation
Pinched nerves due to compression of nerves in the lower spinal column
Herniated discs in your spine or worsening of an existing disk herniation
All side effects are extremely rare and are more likely to occur if you seek medical care from an unlicensed practitioner. Reports show that a stroke associated with neck adjustments is extremely rare, about 1 case in 5.85 million chiropractic adjustments. You are more likely to suffer such an injury from everyday activity than chiropractic manipulation.
However, if you are working with a trusted chiropractor, you can rest assured that they will complete several screens during your initial assessment to make sure you are an appropriate candidate for treatment to avoid unnecessary side effects.
How to Choose a Chiropractor
Finding the right chiropractor for your needs starts with research. There may be 20 chiropractic offices within a 10-mile radius of your home or office, but you should take a closer look at some important details before you begin chiropractic care.
Education and Licensing
While it's true your chiropractor will not have a medical degree, they should have a degree from a chiropractic college and a license to practice in your state. Do not just assume these things are in hand: do your homework and check the provider's credentials.
Once chiropractic student completes their degree, they must achieve a passing score on a four-part test administered by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners to be licensed. Every state has this requirement, and a chiropractor is only licensed in one state.
Beyond passing the board exams to earn a license to practice, chiropractors also take a state-level exam, which covers that state's scope of practice limitations, and submit to a criminal background check.
If you need a specialty within chiropractic medicine, you should also consider a provider who has earned additional certifications in particular practice areas. For example, chiropractors can earn post-doctorate certifications in areas such as neurology and radiology.
Some are also specialized in acupuncture, and you will even find some chiropractors with additional training for veterinary chiropractic! The provider's education and other credentials should be easy to find on their website and if you cannot locate the information, ask them directly before choosing that office.
Reviews and Recommendations
Do not just take one person's word for it when it comes to a chiropractor. Take the time to read multiple reviews and ask around. There are plenty of ways to find reviews about any doctor these days, including chiropractors. Google reviews alone should have plenty of material to get you started, and you can also check out Yelp or sites such as Healthgrade.com. If you see 50 positive reviews and one negative, this could be an anomaly. But a mixed bag might tell you it's time to keep looking!
Treatment Costs and Insurance
The cost of a provider's treatment will be a major factor in your decision. While we would never suggest when it comes to spending on your health that you should "go for the best price" (sometimes a low price means the cheap quality of care), you also do not want to go with a chiropractic provider who is grossly overcharging for services.
First things first on pricing: let's talk about insurance. Do not assume the provider can answer these questions or do this work for you. It is your responsibility to look at your own health insurance plan and discuss whether your plan covers any level of chiropractic care with your insurance provider.
The good news is that many major health insurance providers offer coverage for chiropractic care. But there is also some "fine print" you need to consider, including these possibilities:
Your health insurance provider may require that you have a physician referral to a chiropractor as a stipulation in covering such services.
Your health insurance provider may limit the number of chiropractor visits they cover in a year (or possibly per month).
Your health insurance provider may cover chiropractic care for a specific period of time but not for a long-term or ongoing period of "maintenance."
Your chiropractor may not file directly with your insurance; rather, they may provide billing statements that you can submit directly to the health insurance company for reimbursement.
Your health insurance provider may require that you visit certain chiropractors within their network.
Your health insurance provider may not apply your out-of-pocket expenses at a chiropractor toward your deductible.
Costs for chiropractic care will vary based on everything from your specific treatment needs to your location.
There are also so many factors involved in cost that vary from patient to patient, including equipment and techniques used to the way a patient responds to treatment. In general, an average of around $65 per visit is what you might consider as you think about a budget for chiropractic care.
Ask the chiropractor's office for detailed pricing information ahead of time, and be sure to find out about any penalties for canceled or missed appointments.
Getting a chiropractic treatment can be a great way to improve multiple areas of your health with one noninvasive treatment. Surgeries and medications can be dangerous and expensive. With an adjustment, you could safely and easily target your problems. If you're experiencing back, neck, shoulder pain, headaches, bad posture, or other issues, the highly trained chiropractors at Natural Care Chiropractic can help to relieve your pain and improve your health. Schedule an appointment today to get started!