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Ten Recognized Benefits of Chiropractic Adjustments

If you frequently experience symptoms such as headaches, backaches, or joint discomfort but have yet to seek assistance from a chiropractor, you may be overlooking a natural and effective treatment option. Chiropractic therapy offers a comprehensive, non-invasive approach that has proven successful in treating numerous ailments, benefiting millions of individuals worldwide.

One of the most notable advantages of receiving adjustments from a chiropractor is its entirely drug-free approach to enhancing the body naturally. The benefits of chiropractic care encompass aiding in the natural alleviation of issues such as:

  • Back pain
  • Headaches
  • Sciatica
  • Irregular bowel movements
  • Reduced mental clarity
  • Ear infections
  • Childhood Acid Reflux-colic 
  • Stiff neck
  • Joint and arthritis pain
  • Asthma and Scoliosis
  • Blood pressure
  • Pregnancy-related discomfort

Despite its increasing popularity, misconceptions persist regarding chiropractic care, including misconceptions about proper chiropractic examinations and the education of chiropractors. For example, did you know that many chiropractic programs include a full year of advanced nutrition study at the doctoral level?

Explore further to learn about the theory, history, and empirical evidence supporting chiropractic therapy. This knowledge will help you understand why research indicates that individuals who regularly receive chiropractic care often experience “overall increased bodily function.”

Chiropractic Adjustments: Understanding the Practice

According to the World Federation of Chiropractic, chiropractic medicine is defined as:

“A branch of healthcare that focuses on the identification, management, and prevention of musculoskeletal mechanical disorders, and their impact on overall health and nervous system function. Manual therapies, including joint and soft-tissue manipulation and spinal adjustments, are central to its practice.”

Another perspective on chiropractic comes from the Association of Chiropractic Colleges:

“Chiropractic care emphasizes the body’s innate ability to heal itself without reliance on medication or invasive procedures.”

The interplay between structure—particularly the spine—and function—regulated by the nervous system—and its implications for health maintenance and restoration are core aspects of chiropractic practice. Moreover, chiropractors recognize the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration with other healthcare professionals when it serves the patient’s best interests, a responsibility they take seriously.

Given that many chiropractors work alongside medical doctors to alleviate pain and prevent further injuries, chiropractic care can be viewed as complementary medicine.

How Chiropractic Treatments Work:

Many of the benefits derived from chiropractic care stem from the precise adjustments administered to patients. These adjustments aid in restoring the body to proper alignment, facilitating its innate ability to heal. Safety is paramount throughout this process.

The objective of chiropractic care is to enhance a patient’s mobility, cognitive function, and overall performance by addressing the entire body.

Chiropractors take pride in guiding their patients toward natural health goals without relying on medication. Central to this approach is the belief in the body’s remarkable inherent ability to heal itself under optimal conditions. Chiropractors strive to create a safe and supportive environment that nurtures this process of internal healing.

Given that the nervous system governs every cell and organ in the body, chiropractors focus on the condition and alignment of the spine. Adjustments are utilized to realign the spine if it has deviated from its proper position.

At the core of many chiropractic anecdotes lies a concept known as “vertebral subluxation.” This term refers to mechanical compression and irritation of nerves and spinal joints. For instance, consider William Harvey Lillard, the first recorded chiropractic patient. He experienced hearing difficulties due to compressed nerves leading to his ears. Lillard sought treatment from David D. Palmer, often regarded as the founder of chiropractic care, who adjusted Lillard’s spine to alleviate nerve compression and restore his hearing.

Palmer, drawing from thorough physiological investigations, concluded that Lillard’s hearing loss stemmed from vertebral subluxation, impending spinal nerves responsible for inner ear function. After successfully treating numerous patients, Palmer shared his knowledge with other healthcare professionals. In 1897, he founded the Palmer Chiropractic School & Cure, the first chiropractic college.

Lillard’s case exemplifies how focused chiropractic adjustments can help individuals overcome significant issues, whether it’s gastrointestinal discomfort, sciatica, or other ailments compromising quality of life.

Considering that the body’s cells and organs are largely governed by nerves passing through the spinal canal, the potential benefits of realigning these nerves are vast.

Spinal decompression therapy, a complementary treatment to chiropractic care, involves stretching the spine using traction tables or motorized equipment to alleviate leg and/or back pain. Other popular complementary therapies include physical therapy, acupuncture, and deep tissue massage therapy.

The Importance of Proper Posture:

In Western societies, our modern lifestyle, characterized by prolonged periods of sitting, poses significant risks to spinal health and posture. It has become commonplace to spend hours hunched over laptops, iPads, or cell phones, with little attention given to proper stretching, posture correction, or sufficient daily exercise.

A condition known as “forward head posture” is prevalent among those leading a sedentary lifestyle, where the neck is strained due to prolonged bending forward. Research suggests that for every inch the head protrudes from its natural center of gravity, the neck experiences an additional 10 pounds of tension!

During posture assessments, chiropractors often observe that many patients have their heads positioned two to three inches forward, imposing an extra 20 to 30 pounds of strain on their necks. Consider the implications for spinal health and the impact this strain has on various other aspects of bodily function.

Top 10 Benefits of Chiropractic Adjustments

Finding a reputable chiropractor is crucial for anyone seeking to prevent future health issues or correct damage from years of trauma or poor posture. Chiropractic care stands out as a profession uniquely equipped to address neuromuscular-based problems. Personally, I’ve been receiving adjustments for years, and I advocate for my patients, friends, and family to do the same.

But don’t just take my word for it. Below, you’ll find evidence supporting the myriad therapeutic benefits of chiropractic care, including case studies, systematic reviews, and medical research studies.

Sciatica Relief

  • When it comes to alleviating back pain, few interventions rival chiropractic adjustments compared to conventional medical treatments. A scientific study published in the European Spine Journal showcased a 72% success rate in treating sciatica symptoms with chiropractic adjustments. This is in contrast to a 20% success rate from physical therapy and a 50% success rate from corticosteroid injections.

Furthermore, a second randomized, double-blind trial published in the Spine Journal found that active chiropractic manipulations yielded greater benefits than simulated manipulations for patients with sciatic nerve pain in rehabilitation centers. Active manipulations not only showed no observed side effects but also reduced the number of days patients experienced moderate to severe back pain and other sciatica symptoms.

Neck and Low Back Pain

  • In a study involving patients with neck pain who sought chiropractic care, 96% reported being “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with the treatment they received. Additionally, 98% stated they would “definitely” or were “very likely” to consult a chiropractor again for a similar issue.

In a 2003 study published in the British Medical Journal, 183 individuals experiencing neck discomfort were randomly divided into three groups and given 52 weeks to undergo different treatments: manual therapy (spinal mobilization), physiotherapy (primarily exercise), or general practitioner care (education, counseling, and medication). Clinical outcome measures revealed that compared to physiotherapy and general practitioner care, chiropractic adjustments resulted in a faster rate of recovery. Moreover, the overall expenses for patients receiving chiropractic care amounted to approximately one-third of those for physiotherapy or general practitioner care.

Another study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found that individuals with persistent low-back pain treated by chiropractors experienced greater improvement and satisfaction one month after therapy compared to those treated by family doctors. Patients receiving chiropractic care reported higher satisfaction scores, with 56% reporting either complete resolution or significant improvement in low back pain, compared to only 13% in the physician group.

Following treatment, over one-third of medical patients reported worsening or significant worsening of their low back pain. Similar trends have been observed in other studies, where the majority of acute and chronic chiropractic patients reported improved pain levels, functional impairment, and overall satisfaction.

A study supported by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) investigated the efficacy of different treatments for neck pain. The 272 participants were divided into three groups: those receiving spinal manipulative therapy from a chiropractor, those taking pain medications (including opioids, muscle relaxants, and over-the-counter pain relievers), and those following at-home exercise recommendations. After 12 weeks, approximately 48% of those engaging in exercise and 57% of those receiving chiropractic care reported at least a 75% reduction in pain. In contrast, only 33% of those using medication reported experiencing decreased discomfort. After a year, approximately 53% of the two drug-free groups (exercise and chiropractic care) reported at least a 75% reduction in pain, while those relying solely on medication experienced an average pain reduction of 38%.

Tension and Migraine Headaches

  • Headaches, including tension and migraine headaches, rank among the most common conditions treated by chiropractors on a regular basis, second only to back pain.

According to a collective study, chiropractic treatment reduced the frequency of headache attacks by 90% for 22% of participants. Additionally, 49% of those involved in the same trial reported a significant reduction in the severity of pain.

Few methods, like chiropractic adjustments, offer natural relief for headaches without the potential long-term medication risks associated with conventional medical treatments.

Childhood Acid Reflux, Colic, and Ear Infections

  • A single-blind, randomized, controlled trial published in 2021 demonstrated the effectiveness of chiropractic therapy in alleviating the symptoms of infantile colic. The researchers concluded:

While there was a 30-minute decrease in excessive crying among the group receiving chiropractic care compared to the control group, the difference was not statistically significant. However, there were notable individual variations despite a slight mean difference between the groups. This underscores the importance of determining whether certain subgroups of children—such as those with musculoskeletal issues—derive greater benefits from chiropractic care than others.

Although there is limited literature on randomized, controlled trials discussing the clinical benefits of chiropractic care for children, numerous case studies illustrate how children with conditions like acid reflux or otitis media (ear infections) have experienced complete or near-complete resolution after just a few visits to the chiropractor. According to one study, “Notable improvement in the patient’s symptoms was observed within four visits, with complete resolution of symptoms within three months of care” for children with acid reflux.

Why are these conditions suitable for chiropractic adjustments? There are several reasons, but one remains consistent: the vulnerability of brain and gut nerves to neurological damage caused by spinal subluxations. Aligning the spine and alleviating pressure on specific nerves enhances the gut-brain connection.

This has the same positive impact on adults as it does on children.

Neurological Conditions

  • Exciting research utilizing upright MRI images is shedding light on how modifications to the upper cervical spine can impact various brain-based conditions. The findings thus far are remarkable.

Evidence suggests that treating spinal subluxations, which can contribute to epilepsy and seizures, with chiropractic adjustments can help alleviate these conditions. In one study, 15 pediatric patients who underwent upper cervical therapy reported significant improvements from their chiropractic care. The study concluded that “chiropractic care may offer a non-pharmaceutical healthcare approach for pediatric epileptic patients.”

Blood Pressure Regulation

  • In a study published in the Journal of Human Hypertension in 2007, renowned hypertension expert George Bakris and his research team demonstrated that the effects of a single upper cervical chiropractic adjustment were equivalent to those of two blood pressure-lowering medications. Even more impressive was that the benefits of a single adjustment persisted for nearly six months!

Patients who underwent the actual procedure experienced an average reduction in systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) of 14 mm Hg and an average reduction in diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) of 8 mm Hg more than those who received a placebo.

Similar findings have been observed in other studies involving individuals with hypertension, where chiropractic adjustments helped restore low blood pressure to normal levels. This is intriguing as it underscores how correcting spinal subluxations may promote a balanced, homeostatic environment within the body.

Avoidance of Surgery

  • Chiropractic care has long been hailed by natural health practitioners as a non-invasive alternative to back surgery. In fact, the Journal of the American Medical Association established guidelines for treating low back pain, advising patients to explore chiropractic care before considering surgery.

Frozen Shoulder

  • A research trial examining the response of individuals with frozen shoulder, a debilitating condition, to chiropractic care was published. Among the fifty patients, sixteen experienced complete resolution, twenty-five demonstrated a 75–90% improvement, eight showed a 50–75% improvement, and one exhibited a 0–50% improvement.

Before receiving chiropractic care, patients reported initial pain scores ranging from 7 to 10, with a median of 9. Following treatment, the median score decreased to 2 on a scale of 0 to 10.

Scoliosis Management

  • Research suggests that specific adjustments administered by chiropractors, alongside muscle rehabilitation techniques, may halt the progression of scoliosis. Organizations like the charitable Clear Institute, founded by Dr. Dennis Woggon, aim to equip healthcare professionals with an effective chiropractic approach to aid in the treatment of scoliosis patients.

After extensive efforts to develop a treatment model for scoliosis, healthcare professionals at the Clear Institute have discovered that the condition can be effectively managed without resorting to risky surgeries or restrictive braces. Participants in numerous case studies reported reductions in their scoliosis curvatures ranging from 10 to 30 percent.

Some of these cases are outlined in this article.

Furthermore, a study in 2022 found that “practitioner manipulation can effectively alleviate pain and improve lumbar function in patients suffering from degenerative scoliosis.”

Enhanced Sports Performance

  • Professional athletes, including Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, and Michael Phelps, regularly seek chiropractic care for good reason.

One of chiropractic care’s best-kept secrets is its ability to not only address pathological and pain-related conditions but also to enhance everyday function and sports performance. Research indicates that chiropractic care can be instrumental in promoting healing and optimizing athletic performance by:

  • Improving airway function
  • Reducing oxidative and mental stress
  • Alleviating muscle tension and naturally boosting energy levels

Additionally, chiropractic care can effectively treat sports injuries affecting various body parts, including the hips, shoulders, lower back, and more.

Where to Find a Chiropractor

The most convenient methods for locating a licensed chiropractor in your area include using databases provided by reputable chiropractic organizations or conducting an online search. You can also ask friends or your primary care physician for recommendations.

Are you wondering about the cost of chiropractic care or whether your insurance covers the procedures?

Fortunately, seeing a chiropractor typically doesn’t require a formal referral. Treat your visit to a chiropractor similarly to seeing a physician, as most health insurance policies include coverage for chiropractic care. This coverage often extends to major medical plans, workers’ compensation, Medicare, certain Medicaid plans, and Blue Cross Blue Shield plans.

In general, the cost of seeing a chiropractor shouldn’t be excessively high. However, you may be required to pay a copay, and the exact cost will depend on your insurance plan.

Take Care

Following chiropractic therapy, you may experience a few minor side effects. These can include temporary soreness, stiffness, tightness, or discomfort in the adjusted area of your body, which typically dissipates within one to two days.

Occasional errors can potentially lead to serious issues. That’s why consulting a specialist is crucial.

Closing Thoughts

Chiropractic adjustments facilitate proper alignment of the body, enabling it to recover naturally. Realignment of the spine and alleviation of strain on delicate nerves are primary objectives of chiropractic care, which can help prevent central nervous system disorders.

In addition to being one of the safest methods for naturally and holistically addressing a wide range of symptoms or conditions—such as headaches, high blood pressure, injuries, sciatica, scoliosis, frozen shoulder, back or neck pain, and neuromusculoskeletal complaints that might otherwise require surgery—chiropractic care can also complement mainstream medicine.

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