Do Chiropractors Work

 Back Pain

It is said that the roots of chiropractic began as far back as 2700 B.C. where spinal manipulation was described in helping relieve lower back pain through the maneuvering of the lower extremities. Hippocrates, who was a Greek physician, according to texts, was quoted as saying “Get knowledge of the spine, for this is the requisite for many diseases”. Formally speaking, chiropractic began by DD Palmer who founded chiropractic in approximately 1895. The first school, Palmer School of Chiropractic was the first school established and continues today as one of the most well-known colleges within the profession. According to a 2007 study, the current utilization of chiropractic services fall in the range anywhere from 6% to 12%, and most of these patients seek out a chiropractic physician for low back pain or other musculoskeletal complaints. Common complaints that one might seek out a chiropractor for include low back sprains or strains, disc disorders in the lumbar or cervical spine, muscle pain and or spasm, joint pain, arthritis, injuries related to sports or incurred in the home or at work, radicular (nerve pain into an extremity) pain, and many other musculoskeletal complaints. Do chiropractors work?  To explore that question, it is necessary to view the effectiveness of spinal and joint manipulation for a given complaint.

Rehabilitation and Strengthening

Guidelines have been provided, as of 2007 by the American Pain Society and the American College of Physicians which include spinal manipulation as one of several treatment options that practitioners should utilize when pain does not improve. Various studies have shown manipulation effective for low back pain, neck pain, and for the relief of various types of headaches and joint pain. In addition to manipulation, a chiropractor may utilize conservative physical modalities such as interferential (or other) electric current, ice, heat, massage, ultrasound in addition to stretching, exercise/rehabilitative therapy. Rehabilitation and strengthening can be greatly effective when chiropractic physicians treat patients suffering from radiculopathy that is extending out down a given extremity. Both mobilization and manipulation combined with stabilizing exercise. Case studies, as well as other literature, demonstrate patient satisfaction is high when visiting a chiropractor. There is a wide array of practice types, for example a chiropractor may utilize the above methods with a clinic set up for musculoskeletal complaints main, whereas another clinic may focus on natural supplementation and botanicals to treat internal disorders ranging from irritable bowel syndrome, various hypersensitivity disorders and/or autoimmune diseases. For a prospective patient, a chiropractic physician should be able to formulate a treatment plan for a given complaint and if the complaint is not such that they cannot treat, they should refer to another physician for the appropriate follow up and further evaluation and treatment. Given training in differential diagnosis, basic sciences, clinical workup including labs, imaging, triage of patients, a chiropractic physician is capable and serves a role within a community and provides a much needed service as part of a medical team as a drugless and non-surgical means of treatment.

References Cited in this Article

History of Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic and CAM utilization:  A Descriptive Review