Back Pain Treatment: Chiropractic
Chiropractic is a healthcare profession dedicated to spinal adjustments for spines that have gone out of alignment, as well as various other musculoskeletal disorders. The medical community has historically been pessimistic about the benefits of chiropractic treatments, though today nearly 40 percent of people who experience back pain visit a chiropractor for it. Chiropractic adjustment involves manipulating areas of the spine that correspond to the location of pain, thus relieving pressure on the vertebrae and nerves. The specific type of manipulations or other forms of treatment that the chiropractor does will depend on the diagnosis of the patient's problem. The chiropractor will attempt to correctly diagnose the problem based on X-Ray radiography done in his or her clinic, medical imaging brought in by the patient from another medical center, blood tests, or hands-on examinations of the patient.
The diseases and disease symptoms that chiropractors treat most often include headaches, joint pain in the arms and legs, neck pain, mid back pain, and low back pain. Chiropractors do not just assume that the patient's pain in a part of the body is in the spine, they will determine a correct course of treatment after a thorough examination of the patient and their musculoskeletal system.
Chiropractors are trained and certified as Doctors of Chiropractic (DC), a course of training and education that encompasses 4 years of undergraduate education and 3 years of specific training in chiropractic medicine. They are not medical doctors (MDs or DOs), they cannot prescribe medicine, and they cannot order diagnostic tests (X-Ray, CT, MRI, electromyogram, blood tests). In many clinics, though, chiropractors have their own X-Ray machines and can perform and read their own X-Rays. Though chiropractors cannot order diagnostic tests, they are well trained in all phases of musculoskeletal disorders, and can read and interpret most diagnostic tests involving the musculoskeletal system. So if you do visit a chiropractor after trying other types of back pain treatments, bring the results of your medical tests with you, to speed up the process.
But the reason people go to see chiropractors most often is because of back pain. If the chiropractor decides that the cause of the patient's pain us do to misalignment of the vertebrae, they will perform spinal manipulations if the spine. To do these manipulations, the chiropractor will usually use both hands to perform, quick thrusts to the patient's neck or back, when the patient is laying on their back or side on the treatment table. These thrusts are often startling, though not painful, to the patients, due to the loud crack or pop heard, or due to the internal crunch that is felt as the spine is forcefully repositioned. If the adjustment is successful, the patient may begin to experience back pain or neck pain relief right away or gradually over the next few days. On other occasions, it may take several adjustments before the patient begins to feel better.
If the adjustments are successful, then pressure on the vertebrae and nerves may be relieved, and the patient may experience renewed functioning, flexibility, and mobility.
Chiropractors may also practice mobilization, which refers to more subtle movements which are designed to repair and stretch tight joints and muscles. Muscles and joints may be treated using mobilization by specific stretches, movements, and hands-on manipulations.