Those considering adding chiropractic care to their health and wellness regimen often hear, "What type of pain is chiropractic care most successful in treating?" We commonly see those suffering from back and neck pain from the aches and pains of daily life, car accidents, slips and falls, and more.
However, chiropractic care can help treat pain associated with many health conditions beyond these categories. Those with nerve, joint, and muscle pain can benefit from treatment. Chiropractic techniques also help manage the painful symptoms of many chronic health conditions and can help decrease inflammation while promoting improved circulation and blood flow.
Best of all, the course of chiropractic treatment is entirely holistic. It's non-invasive, meaning there are no risks associated with surgery, such as a lengthy recovery time, changing bandages, or the risk of post-surgical infection.
Chiropractors also don't prescribe medication. This can be a huge bonus for those looking to ditch the OTC or prescription meds (though you should only change your medication routine after first speaking with your primary care physician or specialist).
Visits are quick and easy to fit into your schedule, making it an incredibly convenient option. Furthermore, chiropractors often give tips, tricks, and exercises to perform at home between appointments to maintain your progress.
Keep reading to learn more about what types of pain chiropractic care is most successful in treating and why.
Introduction to Chiropractic Care: Main Principles & Techniques
Chiropractic care consists of many techniques. While the most common type that comes to mind are manual adjustments that produce that crack and pop sound during a session, there's so much more to understanding the care a chiropractor provides.
Different techniques target different areas and causes of pain. These can range from joint adjustments for dislocations to instrument-assisted therapy that targets localized muscles to break down scar tissue and improve nerve function.
The main goal of chiropractic care is to enable your spine to communicate better with your brain. Spinal health is crucial to managing all types of pain, as it sends signals to the brain that affect nerve endings, pain receptors, and even chemicals that affect mood and sleep.
Each technique helps address these issues to provide a better quality of life.
Understanding the Holistic Approach of Chiropractic Care
When considering chiropractic care as part of your wellness, understanding the meaning of a holistic approach is crucial. According to the Oxford Dictionary, the term "holistic" has the following definition:
"Characterized by the treatment of the whole person, taking into account mental and social factors, rather than just the symptoms of an illness."
This means chiropractors do much more than treat the aches you're experiencing in a localized location. They take the time to review your complete medical history, ask questions about your mental health and support system, and look at your body as a whole.
In chiropractic care, this is essential because your entire nervous symptom is connected and affects nearly every aspect of your body. If you present with digestive issues, your chiropractor will likely evaluate your spinal alignment rather than direct you to common medications. Are you under extra stress or going through a tough time? This can result in pain.
The same goes for headaches–there may be an issue in your neck's vertebrae or surrounding muscles causing the pain they can solve without directing you to take an OTC. Lower back pain? Assessing the need for improved lumbar support during daily activities can help the problem.
Rather than looking for the quickest and most obvious solution, chiropractors consider all the factors that may cause a condition and find a way to solve the problem from a full-body approach.
How Chiropractors Assess & Treat Root Causes of Pain Via Overall Well-Being
The holistic, or whole-body, approach to assessing and treating pain helps treatment results last longer and can even alleviate symptoms permanently. Therapy can begin once your chiropractor knows about your entire history, all existing symptoms, and your mental and social situations.
Often, the root cause of pain in the spine is due to spinal subluxation. Other times, it's due to muscle damage, tension, and tightness that prevents or puts pressure on your bones.
When looking at all these factors, your chiropractor may dig deeper into other aspects of your life. Do you sleep poorly? Does your stomach hurt often? Are you losing the range of motion you once had? All these things, and more, can point them in the right direction to begin adjustments.
Back Pain Relief
Most back pain results from misalignment of the vertebrae or muscle and nerve issues that are putting pressure on these bones. The most common back pain types are lower (or lumbar) back pain and cervical (upper neck) pain.
Whether you have a chronic condition like sciatica, have a job that requires overuse or manual labor, have poor posture, a sedentary lifestyle, suffered an injury, or have improper sleep conditions, a chiropractor can help. The primary course of action will likely be manual or gentle chiropractic adjustments.
Your chiropractor may suggest hot and cold therapy, like heating pads or ice packs, lumbar support belts, posture correctors, or specialized pillows. These small changes can make a significant difference without intense medical intervention.
A common question is, "How long will it take to feel better?" Many patients see improvements immediately, with increased results as appointments progress.
Neck and Shoulder Pain
Lots of people experience neck and shoulder pain. This can result from many things, like "tech neck," where individuals spend too much time looking down at their phones, tablets, laptops, whiplash, and more. Tight muscles around the cervical spine can also cause neck pain.
Shoulder pain is most commonly due to poor sleep, sports injuries, or arthritis. It may result from misalignment in the shoulder joint, damaged muscle tissue surrounding your shoulder blade, and more. Regarding shoulder pain, a chiropractor may perform and adjust but also recommend physical or instrument-assisted therapy to target the muscles.
Headache and Migraine Treatment
When you experience a headache or migraine, you likely try to treat the symptoms immediately. You may lay in a quiet, dark room, take medication, and wait for the pain to last.
But chiropractic care can significantly help migraines and headaches of all types. Tension headaches often arise from stress or tension in the myofascial areas in your upper body. For this type of headache, your chiropractor will concentrate on the muscles. They'll identify pain and knots trigger points, utilize massage therapy, and apply pressure until the tension releases. You'll likely experience relief very quickly.
Neuromuscular massage and manual adjustments often help migraines. This is another form of trigger point therapy to improve blood flow in the area and minimize pain. Target areas when treating migraines often include the back, shoulder, neck, and head.
Joint Pain and Arthritis
If you struggle with decreased joint mobility, joint inflammation, and pain associated with conditions like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, it can feel like an uphill battle.
This type of pain often increases as you age, though athletes also frequently experience joint pain: tennis elbow, runner's knee, sprained ankles, and more.
When treating joint pain and arthritis, chiropractors take a gentle approach. It's imperative to take things slow and easy when recovering from an injury. Physical therapy will likely be part of your treatment plan in this case.
Regarding arthritis, a chronic condition, chiropractors often use multiple techniques to manage symptoms. You'll likely receive joint manipulations, manual spine adjustments, massage therapy, acupuncture, and electronic stimulation therapy. These therapies help improve blood flow, decrease inflammation, decrease pain, and help improve joint mobility while reducing stiffness in the surrounding areas.
The symptoms associated with fibromyalgia can be crippling. All-over body pain is a primary symptom, widespread at multiple points. Common areas include the arms, legs, head, chest, abdomen, back, and buttocks. People describe the pain as aching, burning, or throbbing.
While fibromyalgia is a chronic condition, chiropractic care can help manage symptoms. Those who go to appointments regularly report the best results, including less pain, improved range of movement, and better sleep.
Treatment helps target the cervical spine, while massage therapy helps the whole-body approach. Chiropractors may recommend acupuncture as an ancillary treatment. Fibromyalgia affects the brain, which is directly connected to your spinal cord. Manual adjustments can improve the communication between these two points, minimizing pain.
Preventative Care as Part of Your Overall Wellness Plan
Most patients report that their symptoms decrease and become less frequent over time. On-going sessions with your chiropractor are crucial to maintaining this sense of wellness. Stay on top of your chiropractic routine rather than waiting until you're in pain.
You'll likely notice that you go more extended periods without flare-ups and experience improved mood and quality of life. Many state that they experience some improvement after just one appointment. Maintaining proper spine alignment can help treat issues like digestive problems, poor sleep, and headaches before they occur.
Incorporate chiropractic care as part of your overall wellness plan to reap all the benefits treatment offers.