Spine Spot Chiropractic




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Research & Safety

Is Chiropractic Safe? 

Safety and Research

One-quarter of U.S. adults (nearly 62 million) visited a chiropractor in the last five years, and over half of this population went in the last 12 months. Of those who recently visited a chiropractor, 88% reported that the quality of care they received was a good value for their money, and three out of four people who saw a chiropractor in the past year described their care as “very effective.” In fact, in a consumer survey, chiropractic care outperformed all other forms of treatment for back pain, including both prescription and over-the-counter medications, deep-tissue massage, Pilates, and yoga.

Safety of Chiropractic Care

Risks associated with chiropractic care are extremely small. Because chiropractic care is drug-free and surgery-free, it does not expose patients to the risks associated with pharmaceuticals or surgical procedures. Surgery comes with the risk of infection and other complications during or after the procedure, and prescription painkillers come with other well-known risks, such as the potential for abuse and addiction.

Now that the U.S. and other countries are facing an opioid overdose epidemic, chiropractic care is receiving a significant amount of attention for helping to alleviate chronic pain without the use of medications like opioids. In fact, in early 2019, research was presented at a conference for the American Academy of Pain Management. This research showed that the patients who visited a chiropractor for pain management were nearly half (49%) as likely to be prescribed an opioid as those who sought out other types of healthcare providers to treat pain. Even over-the-counter medications like anti-inflammatory drugs can have adverse side effects (internal bleeding, for example).

The risk of serious complications from chiropractic treatment, in contrast, is estimated at less than one in 1 million treatments—and the adverse effects reported were generally related to a pre-existing medical condition. The odds are greater that you will be struck by lightning!

Chiropractic Care for Pain Management

Chiropractic care offers safe and effective treatment for a variety of conditions, including lower back pain, which is the leading cause of physical disability across the globe, according to a 2013 Global Burden of Disease study. A meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2017 concluded that spinal manipulation should be the first line of defense for treating acute lower back pain. This is an important piece of research, as so many who suffer from chronic pain turn to addictive medications to treat the pain or to invasive surgery. In 2017, the American College of Physicians updated their lower back pain treatment guidelines to recommend the use of drug-free therapies such as spinal manipulation for treating acute and chronic lower back pain.

Chiropractic Care for Children and Pregnant Women

Chiropractic care is safe for both pregnant women and children alike. In fact, 75-85% of women who sought chiropractic care while pregnant reported that it helped reduce their back, leg, joint, and pelvic aches and pains. Chiropractors also help reduce the likelihood of experiencing back pain while in labor. This is significant since 50% of women experience back pain while pregnant and 75% have it during labor.

In 2000, there were 30 million pediatric visits to chiropractors in the U.S., and by 2009, this number more than doubled to 68 million. One of the most common reasons children see a chiropractor is for the treatment of chronic ear infections. In fact, five out of six children will have an ear infection before the age of three. One study found spinal adjustments to help with ear infection symptoms in 93% of children. 75% experienced improvements in ten visits or less, while 43% were feeling better after one or two visits. Chiropractic care has also been found helpful for children who suffer from colic, torticollis (a twisting of the head to one side), nursing difficulties stemming from not being able to turn the head properly, and problems with crawling.

Chiropractic Research and Safety

Chiropractic care is a form of complementary and alternative medicine that focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders, particularly those related to the spine. Chiropractors use spinal manipulation and other techniques to alleviate low back pain, neck pain, and other musculoskeletal issues.

What is Chiropractic Care?

Chiropractic care involves the use of spinal manipulation, also known as chiropractic spinal manipulation, to realign the body's musculoskeletal structure, particularly the spine. This form of therapy is based on the theory that proper alignment of the body's musculoskeletal structure will enable the body to heal itself without the need for medication or surgery.

Spinal manipulation is a manual therapy that involves applying a controlled force to a joint of the spine. This mobilizes the joint and helps to restore its normal motion. The procedure is often accompanied by an audible "pop" or "crack" sound, which is a result of the release of gas bubbles when the joint is stretched. This technique is believed to alleviate pain and improve the body's physical function.

For individuals suffering from acute or chronic low back pain, chiropractic care has been shown to offer significant benefits. Research studies have indicated that spinal manipulation can effectively reduce pain and improve physical function for individuals experiencing low back pain.

Chiropractic care has also been found to be safe and effective in the treatment of acute low back pain. Patients often report quick relief from their discomfort and a return to normal activities after undergoing chiropractic treatment for acute low back pain.

However, safety concerns have been raised regarding the use of chiropractic care for neck pain. The manipulation of the cervical spine requires special consideration due to the proximity of important neurovascular structures. Clinicians are urged to carefully evaluate the risks and benefits of spinal manipulation for neck pain cases and to provide evidence-based recommendations for their patients.

Chiropractic Care for Low Back Pain

Spinal manipulative therapy plays a crucial role in the treatment of low back pain. Chiropractors use their hands or a device to apply a controlled force to the spine to improve spinal motion and alleviate pain. This therapy is often used as an alternative to standard medical care for the management of low back pain.

Research studies have compared manual therapies such as chiropractic care to standard medical care for low back pain. These studies have shown that manual therapies, including chiropractic care, provide greater relief from low back pain and improve physical function compared to standard medical care alone.

Practice guidelines developed by national institutes of health and clinical research organizations recommend chiropractic care for the management of chronic low back pain. These guidelines are based on evidence from randomized controlled trials and clinical research studies that support the effectiveness of chiropractic for chronic low back pain.

Chiropractic Care for Neck Pain

Chiropractic care is often recommended for the treatment of cervical spine issues that lead to neck pain. The chiropractor utilizes spinal manipulation techniques to alleviate pain and improve the function of the cervical spine. However, safety considerations are of utmost importance when dealing with neck pain cases to minimize the risk of adverse events associated with spinal manipulation.

Primary care recommendations for neck pain treatment often involve a multidisciplinary approach that includes chiropractic care. When managing neck pain, clinicians are advised to closely monitor the patients and assess the effectiveness and safety of chiropractic interventions for neck pain.

Cervicogenic headache, which is characterized by head pain originating from the cervical spine, is another condition where chiropractic care has shown positive outcomes. Chiropractic spinal manipulation has been found to be effective in reducing the frequency and intensity of cervicogenic headaches.

Safety of Chiropractic Care

Research and clinical trials have provided evidence supporting the safety of chiropractic care for various musculoskeletal conditions. The American College of Physicians and the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics have published clinical practice guidelines that support the safe use of chiropractic care for low back pain and neck pain.

Chiropractic care has been compared to other medical care options in terms of safety. The safety profile of chiropractic care has been found to be favorable, and for many patients, it offers a non-invasive and effective treatment option for their musculoskeletal conditions.

Clinicians and healthcare providers who offer chiropractic services are urged to adhere to the safety standards and practice guidelines outlined by the chiropractic profession. These guidelines are designed to ensure the safe and effective delivery of chiropractic care to patients seeking relief from low back pain, neck pain, and other musculoskeletal issues.

In addition, evidence from research supports the effectiveness of chiropractic care in the treatment of headaches, neck pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, vertigo, and possibly asthma, along with other conditions. Adults, children, and pregnant women alike have found safe and effective results from chiropractic treatments to help alleviate pain and manage overall health. If you’d like to achieve and maintain wellness or would like to relieve pain in your body, we may be able to help!

More about Chiropractic Care

Dr. James Fraser

Doctor of Chiropractic