If you mention that you’re considering seeing a chiropractor for a spinal alignment, you’re likely to hear a host of differing opinions from family and friends. Your aunt may swear by her chiropractor, saying that not only did her spinal alignment relieve her back pain but also her mental health. Your brother-in-law might know someone in medical school who claims that chiropractic is just pseudoscience with no real life value. Your roommate may have seen a story on the internet about chiropractic patients who suffered spinal damage during the manipulation. But what does the research say?
Chiropractic care has been a hotly contested topic in the medical community, but time and time again, studies have shown that it does have value, and in more aspects of your health than you might realize.
Back and Neck Pain
Back and neck pain aren’t the only reasons to see a chiropractor, but they are the most common reasons. Many chiropractic patients suffer sports injuries or whiplash from car accidents. Others have difficulty with back pain due to the physical demands of their job. With these issues, it can be hard to know exactly where the problem originates. A chiropractor can examine you and determine whether your back or neck pain has something to do with a misalignment of the spine. If not, they can recommend the type of medical attention you need. If the problem is your spine, however, a chiropractor can treat the issue by manipulating the spine into realignment.
Sometimes the tension in the spine also creates tense muscles that attribute to back and neck pain. Chiropractors are trained to perform massage therapy that can help to relieve this pain as well.
One common misconception about chiropractic care is that a misaligned spine can only lead to back and neck pain, when in fact it can lead to a whole host of health issues. As early as the 1970s, Irvin Korr studied the relationship between the spine and the nervous system. The spinal cord sends commands from the brain to the body and sensations from the body to the brain. When the spine is misaligned, it causes a vertebral subluxation and cause stress on your nervous system, forming headaches. A spinal manipulation can help your spine and your nervous system to have functional communication again, relieving the stress that caused the headache. Chiropractors can also recommend changes in diet or lifestyle to alleviate headaches.
While chiropractic care might not cure arthritis, it can optimize the function of the arthritic joint to make arthritis more livable. Chiropractors focus on the nerves that flare up to cause arthritis. They can manipulate the soft tissue around the inflamed joint to reduce muscle spasms and relieve some of the pain. Patients of various types of arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis, often find relief for their symptoms through chiropractic care.
A 2013 study published in the Journal of Upper Cervical Chiropractic Research observed the effects of chiropractic care on mental health, particularly in reducing anxiety and depression. Using a prior research pool of 2,818 chiropractic patients, researchers found that 76% reported improvement in their mental health and significantly less stress.They found tentative support that chiropractic care could, in fact, reduce anxiety and depression. There are several possible reasons for this, perhaps the most obvious being that by relieving the body of physical pain, the patient has more mental energy to devote to the things they love. Poor communication between the spine and the nervous system can also cause imbalances that lead to mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. Finally, chiropractic manipulations have been shown to reduce noradrenaline, which has been connected to a number of health problems, including mental health disorders.
Chiropractic care is a holistic, non-invasive, and simple way to alleviate pain and improve both physical, mental, and emotional health. It almost seems too good to be true, which is why it’s doubted by many patients and even professionals. But the science checks out. Countless studies and years of research all prove that not only is chiropractic care a legitimate medical practice, but that you should see a chiropractor…and soon.