Chiropractic care for back pain
Chiropractic care is a way to diagnose and treat health problems that affect the nerves, muscles, bones and joints of the body. A health care provider that offers this type of care is called a chiropractor. Manual adjustments of the spine, called spinal manipulation, are the basis of chiropractic care. Most chiropractors also use other types of treatments.
What happens during a visit to a chiropractor?
The first visit in most cases lasts 30 to 60 minutes. The chiropractor will ask about your goals for treatment and your medical history. You will be asked about:
- Past injuries and illnesses
- Current health problems
- Any medication you are taking
- Sleep habits
- Mental stress you may have
Chiropractic care for back pain
Tell your chiropractor about any physical problems you may have and that make it difficult for you to perform certain tasks. Also tell him if he has any numbness, tingling, weakness or any other neurological problem. After asking about your health, the chiropractor will do a physical exam. This includes tests of the mobility of the spine (how well the spine moves).
The chiropractor may also do some tests, such as checking blood pressure and taking x-rays. These tests look for problems that may be increasing your back pain. Treatment begins at the first or second visit in most cases.
- You may be asked to lie on a special table, where the chiropractor performs spinal manipulations.
- The most common treatment is the manipulation that the chiropractor does with the hand. It consists of moving a joint of the spine to the maximum of its range, followed by light compression. This is often called “adjustment” and realign the bones of the spine so that they are straight.
- The chiropractor can also perform other treatments, such as massages and other soft tissue work.
- Some people get a little sore, stiff and tired for a few days after handling. This is because your body is adjusting to its new alignment. You should not feel any pain following the manipulation.
How many treatments will you need?
In most cases, more than one session is needed to correct a problem. The treatments generally last several weeks. The chiropractor can suggest 2 or 3 short sessions a week at the beginning. These sessions would only last about 10 to 20 minutes each. Once you start to get better, the treatment can only be once a week. You and your chiropractor will talk about the effectiveness of the treatment based on the goals set in the first session.
What conditions is best treated by the chiropractor?
Chiropractic treatment is more effective for:
- Subacute back pain (pain that has been present for 3 months or less)
- Chronic back pain exacerbations
- Pain in the neck
Who should not receive treatment with a chiropractor?
People should not receive chiropractic treatment in the parts of their bodies affected by:
- Bone fractures or tumors
- severe arthritis
- Bone or joint infections
- Severe osteoporosis (thinning of the bones)
Very rarely, neck manipulation can damage blood vessels or cause strokes. It is also very rare that manipulation can make the condition worse. However, the evaluation process that your chiropractor does at your first visit is intended to see if you could be at high risk for these problems. Be sure to tell the chiropractor all your symptoms and medical history. If you are at high risk, your chiropractor will not perform neck manipulation.