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Chiropractic care is a system of therapy that focuses on the structure of the body, especially the spine. The chiropractor uses his/her hands to manipulate the spine, with the aim of altering the body alignment to improve pain and also boost the function of the body. Although the main focus of chiropractors is to make use of their hands in manipulating the spine to achieve desired results, chiropractic care may also include other types of treatments. This might include manual or manipulative therapies, exercise, and postural training. In recent times, chiropractors don’t work alone, but work with a team of health practitioners. This might include primary care physicians, pain experts, and surgeons in treating patients. Conditions that are severe, and that is not within their skill set or training, are referred to as specialists. Chiropractic care is effective for the treatment of back and neck pain. It is also used in the treatment of musculoskeletal related pains. Although chiropractic care is effective for the treatment of some conditions, there have reports of some complications of this type of therapy. Some of the complications include stroke, which occurs after spinal manipulation of the neck. However, it’s important to know that these complications rarely occur.

What Is Chiropractic?

Chiropractors make use of the hands in spinal manipulation, and also make use of other alternative treatments. The theory behind their method is that they focus on the proper alignment of the body’s musculoskeletal structure. The proper alignment of the spine helps the body to heal itself, without having to undergo any form of surgery or use any medication. Hand manipulation is done to boost the mobility of the joints that have been impaired, or that has become stiff due to injuries or trauma such as falling from a height, physical stress, and so on. Chiropractic care is mainly used for the treatment of pain. Studies have shown that about 35% of people consult chiropractors for the purpose of relieving pain. Examples of this include upper back, lower back and neck pain. This pain is mostly caused by sports injuries, muscle strains, accidents and so on. Other complaints people present to chiropractors include leg, arm pain and so on.

Who Is A Chiropractor?

A chiropractor is a doctor of chiropractic. They can also be referred to as chiropractic physician that is trained, and skilled to diagnose, treat and disorders of the musculoskeletal and nervous system. They are capable of treating anyone regardless of their age and gender. However, they mostly make use of hand manipulation in treating disorders and health conditions. Chiropractors should not be confused for medical doctors. They can also specialize in areas under chiropractic. Below are some of the fields they could specialize in:

  • Forensic sciences
  • Sports medicine
  • Neurology
  • Rehabilitation
  • Nutrition
  • Internal disorders
  • Pediatrics
  • Occupational and industrial health.

Chiropractors that specialize in any of these fields. They treat a patient just like physicians. This usually involves taking a medical and family history of the patient, which is then followed by performing a physical and neurological examination. They might also carry out other diagnostic tests such as blood and imaging tests. After they’ve made a diagnosis, a treatment plan would be drawn out for the patient. In situations where the disorder the patient is beyond the scope of chiropractic, patients are referred to health professionals that are better suited to treat the disease. Chiropractors cannot carry out surgeries.

What Does It Take To Become A Chiropractor?

Chiropractors complete 3 or 4 years of a science-related undergraduate course, then proceed to a 4-year chiropractic college program. They have to be licensed by the state in which they desire to practice. The first 2 years of the chiropractic program is mostly on basic medical sciences such as anatomy, physiology, pathology, and microbiology, while the remaining two years is about manipulation techniques and courses on the various fields of medicine such as neurology, nutrition, geriatrics, pediatrics, orthopedics, rehabilitation and so on. The last year of training does involve the students treating patients but under the guidance of a licensed chiropractor.

What Are The Conditions Treated By A Chiropractor?

Chiropractors are skilled and trained to treat various types of musculoskeletal conditions. The most common reasons people consult chiropractor is for the treatment of upper, lower back pain, and neck pain. Other conditions that can be treated by chiropractors include the following:

  • Upper back pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Whiplash
  • Sciatica
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Radiculopathy
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Carpal tunnel
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Degenerative joint disease

 

  1. Upper back pain: Upper back pain is the type of pain that affects the upper part of the back and the thoracic spine area of the spinal column. People affected with this condition find it difficult to move their back. The experience a lot of pain. As compared to neck pain and lower back pain, the upper back is resistant to pain and injury. People only develop discomfort and pain in the upper back, after a prolonged poor posture, and an injury that impairs the thoracic spine. People experience pain in their upper back, mainly because of two reasons. This include:
  • Muscular irritation: The shoulder girdle attaches to large muscles to the shoulder blade and the back of the rib cage. However, people experience pain where is a strain or tightness in the upper back muscles. Irritation of the muscles occurs mainly due to a lack of strength in the muscles, or due to injuries. Injuries might develop in the muscles due to repetitive motions or overuse.
  • Joint dysfunction: This is one of the most common causes of upper back pain. It occurs when then there is a sudden injury, or degeneration of the joints due to aging. This could cause a lot of pain in the upper back.

It’s important to go see a chiropractor if this condition makes it difficult for you to carry out your daily activities. They diagnose this condition by taking a medical and family history of the patient. This is then followed by a physical and neurological examination of the patient. Chiropractors treat this condition by manipulating the spine in the upper back. Patients are also advised to take a short rest for proper recovery. Heat therapy is also effective in treating this type of condition.

  1. Lower back pain: This is a common disorder that affects the muscles, nerves, and bones of the lower back. Persons affected with this condition may find it difficult to walk or move. Patients do feel a dull pain or a sudden sharp feeling in their lower back. Lower back pain is classified as acute if it lasts for less than 6 weeks, while it’s referred to as chronic if it persists for more than 3 months. Patients might start presenting with symptoms after waking up in the morning, or when they try to walk. The pain may worsen with certain movements, such as sitting, standing, raising a leg and so on. Studies have shown that people experience low back pain when they’re between the ages of 20 and 40. Prolonged low back pain may be associated with other conditions such as sleep problem, anxiety, and People affected with this condition, usually don’t pay any attention to it initially, until they realize they can’t carry out their daily activities. Patients that present with other conditions such as fever, loss of weight, need to undergo additional tests, to detect the underlying condition. There are various conditions that could lead to the development of lower back pain. Some of the conditions that could increase the risk of developing lower back pain include poor physical condition, poor posture, and poor sleeping positions. Other less common causes of lower back pain include osteoarthritis, degeneration of the discs between the vertebrae, broken vertebrae and so on. Physicians diagnose lower back pain by carrying out tests such as X-ray, MRI, CT scan and so on. The condition is treated with medications such as non-steroidal-inflammatory drugs. Examples include aspirin, ibuprofen and so on. In severe conditions, surgery might be carried out. Other conditions that are associated with lower back pain such as depressant, anxiety, are treated with psychotherapy and medications. Examples of this include counseling and antidepressants. Patients mostly benefit from chiropractic care, which involves the manipulation of the spine. This condition is most prominent among people aged between 40 and 80 years.
  2. Neck pain: Neck pain is a condition that is common to a lot of people, including kids and adults. It mostly occurs due to a strain of the neck, poor posture, which could be as a result of sitting behind a desk or a computer for a long time. Osteoarthritis is also a common cause of neck pain. It’s uncommon for neck pain to be a symptom of a severe It’s important to go see a chiropractor if this condition is affecting your productivity.

                      Symptoms Of Neck Pain

  • Persons affected with neck pain present with tightness and spasms of their neck muscles.
  • Patients may also present with headache.
  • Patients might have a reduced ability to move their head.
  • Symptoms presented by patients usually worsens when the head is held in one position for a long time.

When Is It Important to See A Chiropractor?

Most cases of neck pain don’t require any form of medical intervention, because they resolve after a period of time. However, neck pain that is caused by injuries, trauma, or an accident does require medical attention. It’s important to consult a physician if :

  • The pain is severe and isn’t improving after a few days.
  • It’s crucial when the pain radiates from the neck to the arms and legs.
  • If the pain is accompanied by conditions such as headache, weakness, and numbness in the neck.

                     Causes Of Neck Pain

The neck supports and bears the weight of the head. However, the neck is vulnerable to conditions that may cause discomfort and also stiffness in the neck. Below are some of the causes of neck pain:

  • Muscle strains: The neck muscles might become strained when a lot of pressure or strain is put on the neck. This might occur when an individual sits behind a desk or makes use of the computer for long hours in a bad posture. People affected with muscles strains could also manifest discomfort by just opening their mouth to speak or eat.
  • Compression of the neck nerve: There are situations where the nerves of the neck become compressed. This might occur as a result of disk herniation or bone spurs in the vertebrae of the neck.
  • Injuries: There are some conditions that cause neck pain. Examples of injuries that could lead to neck pain include whiplash injuries, which happens when the head is jerked backward or forward suddenly.
  • Other diseases: There are some diseases that could cause neck pain. Some of these diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, meningitis or cancer.
  • Worn joints: The joints in the neck tends to get worn out as one age. This may be due to a degeneration of the cartilages that lies between the vertebrae of the neck.

              Diagnosis and Treatment

Chiropractors diagnose this condition by taking a physical and family history of the patient. This is followed by a physical and neurological examination. The signs and symptoms of the patient are then assessed by the physician. Other tests that could be carried out by the physician include X-rays, CT scan and MRI.

                                        Treatment

Neck pain can be in various ways. The most effective treatment of neck pain is through chiropractic. Chiropractors treat this condition by manipulation of the cervical part of the spine. Other methods that could be used in treating this condition include the following:

  • Physical therapy: A physical therapist can help patients to align their spine, and also to correct their posture. This can be done with the use of heat, ice, and electrical stimulation.
  • Steroid injections: Chiropractors may refer patients to a specialist if the condition is beyond the scope of chiropractic. Steroids can be injected into the nerve roots and the bones of the cervical spine.
  • Surgery: This is mostly done for conditions such as spinal cord compression or nerve compression. This type of condition can’t be treated with chiropractic.

 

  1. Sciatica: Sciatica is a condition in which pain radiates down the leg from the lower back. This pain may also spread to the back, outside and the front of the leg. Sciatica usually starts when an individual carries heavy thing, and might even develop over time. Patients do experience the signs and symptoms on one side of the body, although there are situations in which the pain radiate to the two sides of the body. Studies have shown that sciatica mainly occurs as a result of the herniation of the spinal disc, especially when it presses on one of the sacral or lumbar nerve roots. Other conditions that could cause this condition include spinal stenosis, piriformis syndrome, spondylolisthesis and so on. Chiropractors diagnose this condition by initially taking the medical and family history of the patient, followed by a carrying out a physical and neurological examination of the patient. Other tests that are often used in diagnosis include medical imaging such as X-ray, CT scan and MRI. There are some conditions that share a lot of similarities with sciatica, especially in presentation. Some of these diseases include herpes zoster and so on. Chiropractors treat this disorder by hand manipulation of the affected part of the body, except in severe cases where they may have to refer patients to specialists. Physicians do make use of medications such as gabapentin, pregabalin in the treatment of the condition.
  2. Rheumatoid arthritis: This is a chronic inflammatory disorder that can occur in more than one joint of the body. This disorder also affects more than just the joints and can affect other parts of the body, such as the skin, heart, blood vessels, and the eyes. It’s an autoimmune disease, in which the body immune system fails to recognize the tissues of the joints, and attacks it. The attack on the joints causes an inflammation that leads to the damage to the lining, which would eventually cause deformities in the joints. Some of the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include the following:
  • Patients might present with the tenderness of the affected joint.
  • The affected joints might usually become warm and swollen. This occurs because the attack of the immune system on the joint tissues causes an inflammation of the lining of the joint.
  • The patient might present with fatigue and fever.
  • Persons affected with rheumatoid arthritis might also present with weight loss.

Rheumatoid arthritis mainly affects the smaller joints in the initial stage of the disease. The joints of the fingers, toes, and feet are usually the most affected. However, the disease would affect other parts of the body such as the knees, ankles, elbows, wrists, hips, and shoulders. Studies have shown that about 40% of people affected by rheumatoid arthritis develop symptoms in nonjoint structures of the body.

When Is It Important To See A Chiropractor?

It’s vital to go consult a chiropractor when a patient starts presenting with prolonged pain and swelling in th joints.

What Are The Causes Of Rheumatoid Arthritis?

As earlier mentioned, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. The body immune system fails to recognize the joint tissues and attacks them. This causes the inflammation of the joint tissues, which includes the synovium. This would affect the other components of the joint such as the cartilage and bones. This might lead to deformity of the joints if left untreated for a long time. Physicians don’t know the exact cause of this disease; however, some factors have been identified. Some of them include the following:

  • Genetics: It has been suggested that some people might be predisposed to developing rheumatoid arthritis. However, there is no sufficient evidence to prove this.
  • Infection: There are theories that infection contributes to the development of rheumatoid arthritis. Examples of these infections include virus and bacteria.

                          Diagnosis

Chiropractors diagnose rheumatoid arthritis by taking the medical and family history of the patient. The signs and symptoms presented by the patient are then examined. Other tests that could be done in diagnosing the condition include a blood test, laboratory findings, and imaging tests.

                                         Treatment

There is no specific cure for rheumatoid arthritis. Although the symptoms of this condition can be improved. Chiropractors do this by carrying out hand manipulations of the affected joint. However, cases that are complicated or severe are referred to as physicians. Physicians treat this condition with a combination of medications and therapy. Some of the medicines used include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs and so on. Therapy involves teaching patients how to keep their joints flexible, through various exercises.

  1. Carpal tunnel syndrome: This is a condition in which the median nerve that travels through the wrist is compressed. Persons affected with this condition do present with signs and symptoms such as numbness and tingling of the hand, pain and so on. Patients usually do find it difficult to use their fingers. Some of the factors that increase the risk of developing this condition include obesity, pregnancy, rheumatoid arthritis and so on. Chiropractors diagnose this condition by carrying out a physical and neurological examination of the patient.

What Are The Benefits Of Chiropractic Care?

Some of the conditions that can be treated by chiropractic care have been discussed above, below are some of the benefits of chiropractic care:

  • Chiropractic care is relatively safe
  • It’s effective for the treatment for the treatment of conditions such as neck pain and back pain.
  • It’s also effective in the treatment of conditions such as headaches, osteoarthritis without any invasive procedure.
  • Personalized treatment: Chiropractic care doesn’t have a specific formula that can treat all diseases. However, your chiropractor can personalize your treatment plan to take care of your specific needs directly.
  • Low risk: The risks involved in chiropractic care is low, as compared to other forms of treatment. The most common complications are the soreness experienced by patients after a procedure. Others include a headache, tiredness and so on. These are minor, as compared to the side effects of medications and surgery.
  • Prevents joint dysfunction: Chiropractic care helps to reduce joint dysfunction. Chiropractors would know if there is anything off about your joints, even if the patient doesn’t present with any signs and symptoms.

What Are The Risks Involved In Chiropractic Care?

Overall, chiropractic is a safe way of treating patients, especially when it’s done by a trained and duly registered chiropractor. Below are some of the complications that might occur as a result of treatments;

  • Patients might present with body aches and pains, even after a chiropractic session
  • Patients might experience stiffness in some parts of the body.
  • Weakness and fatigue could also happen to patients.
  • Stroke: This might occur as a result of spinal manipulation. However, this rarely occurs.
  • Chiropractic doesn’t cover a lot of diseases.

Find the Best Chiropractor Near me

The benefits and conditions that chiropractors can help treat have been listed above. It’s important to go see a chiropractor as soon you notice any of the signs and symptoms listed above. The earlier a condition is diagnosed, and treated, the better the outcome.

References

Articular neurology and chiropractic: the foundation of chiropractic wellness care. (2000). The British Journal of Chiropractic, 4(4), p.76.

Chiropractic Care of Pediatric Nonmusculoskeletal Conditions: A Case Series. (2010). Clinical Chiropractic, 13(2), p.189.

Chiropractic Evidence 2011: Programme. (2011). Clinical Chiropractic, 14(2), p.63.

Moreau, W. (2007). The American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physicians supports the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, 6(3), pp.85-86.

 

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