Approximately 22 million Americans go to chiropractors every year for either complementary or alternative care, especially when they have back pain caused by car accidents and sports injuries. Chiropractic has been around for hundreds or thousands of years. It is generally characterized by manipulations done by hand, although tools are now also used to apply chiropractic techniques. If you’re new to chiropractic care and would like to read about the science behind it, here’s what you need to know about what empirical studies say about the safety and efficacy of specific chiropractic methods.
By far, the two most widely known chiropractic treatments are spinal manipulations and mobilizations. Spinal manipulation is a forceful and sudden action on the target joint which creates a perceptible popping sound. This procedure can be done by hand or with the aid of tools. While manipulations are forceful and quickly executed, joint mobilizations are gentler, repeated movements. Similar to manipulations, they can reduce pain and inflammation as well as improve the range of motion of affected joints. Among the possibly hundreds of chiropractic procedures, manipulations and mobilizations have been the most researched.
Studies indicated that manipulations and mobilizations are both safe chiropractic techniques provided that the chiropractors are licensed and experienced. Research from 2007 indicated that 19,722 patients in the U.S. mostly had no side effects from manipulations although others experienced tenderness in the adjusted area for a day or two. The study concluded that the risk of serious adverse events is very low for up to seven days after treatment. Another 2009 research showed that visiting a chiropractor did not present greater medical risks than going to a doctor and getting standard clinical care for pain. Clearly, chiropractic is safe when conducted by competent practitioners.
Besides safety, chiropractic manipulations and mobilizations of the spine and other joints are considered effective in addressing pain and back injuries. A study showed that spinal manipulation is particularly effective in providing pain relief to acute low back pain and to some extent, faster recovery from back injuries. In addition, manipulations can be as effective as anti-inflammatory drugs and general practitioner care. Furthermore, mobilizations and manipulations may offer the same or better pain relief outcomes for chronic and acute low back pain. They are also effectively combined with other treatments, including medical care and soft tissue treatment, for treating back injuries
You can stop wondering whether chiropractors offer safe and effective treatment because science says they can. Consider putting the treatment of your injuries in the hands of a dedicated and competent chiropractor to alleviate pain and help you live a more comfortable life.
“Chiropractic Care for Back Pain,” WebMD.com
“Chiropractic: In Depth,” nccih.nih.gov
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