A licensed chiropractor manipulates joints in the body with special instruments or their hands. This is also referred to as spinal or joint manipulation. It can help alleviate pain and improve the alignment and overall physical function of the body.
Chiropractors diagnose and treat a variety of conditions involving the nervous and musculoskeletal systems. Chiropractic care can alleviate pain in the low back, headaches, neck, muscles, and other body joints.
Consider a chiropractor as a physician who treats any type of muscle, joint, or bone pain. Chiropractors can be used in conjunction with conventional medical care.
To grasp what chiropractors do, consider aches, pains, creaks, and strains. If you have a problem involving your musculoskeletal system, a chiropractor can recommend alternative treatment options.
Chiropractic physicians do not prescribe medication, which enables them to think creatively. A chiropractor may prescribe the following:
- Therapy of the soft tissues: To relax tense muscles, alleviate spasms, and release fascial tension (the connective tissue surrounding each muscle).
- Adjustments: To reposition joints gently and increase range of motion bracing/taping of joints (e.g., Kinesio taping): To heal sprained joints or muscles.
- Stretches and exercises: To rehabilitate and maintain range of motion and mobility
- Referrals to experts in integrative medicine: For diet and nutrition guidance to reduce inflammation and promote weight loss.
Treatments are generally painless. However, soreness is a common side effect comparable to what you might experience following a workout. However, your muscles adapt over time.
Chiropractors can treat pain in any body part, including the head and jaws, shoulders, elbows and wrists, hips and pelvis, knees and ankles.
They examine the entire musculoskeletal system and address the underlying cause of the problem. Chiropractors examine not only the joints but also the surrounding muscles.
Chiropractors diagnose and treat patients of all ages. Treatments vary in intensity and force according to the patient. Each patient is screened to determine their suitability for chiropractic care. For instance, many older patients have some bone thinning or softening, which precludes joint manipulation. If patients believe chiropractic care is too risky, they will refer them to the appropriate people and resources.
Your chiropractor will discuss your medical history and conduct a physical examination during your initial visit. You may undergo diagnostic tests such as the following:
- X-rays, which visualize internal structures through the use of very small amounts of electromagnetic radiation
- CT scan, which employs X-rays to create detailed images of internal body structures.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a scan that generates images of the body using radio waves and strong magnetic fields.
Your chiropractor will create a treatment plan based on your symptoms, examination findings, and test results. The chiropractor then applies a quick, controlled force to a joint with their hands or small instruments. A popping or cracking sensation may occur.
Along with chiropractic, your chiropractor may recommend other therapies. These may include the following:
- Nutrition, diet, weight loss, and general health advice.
- Stimulation of electrical muscle fibres with transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulators (TENS).
- Icing or heat therapy may be used.
- Extensive range of motion exercises and stretches.
- Techniques for reducing stress and relaxing muscles.
Chiropractic care aids in the reduction of pain caused by:
- Migraines and headaches are associated with the neck.
- Injury to the neck or spine.
- Arms, legs, and shoulders joint problems.
Many people experience near-instant relief from symptoms following chiropractic treatment.
However, the goal of chiropractic care is to restore your health over time rather than to alleviate your symptoms temporarily. Thus, a chiropractor will inquire about your daily movements (standing, sitting, and walking) and how you sleep at night.
Learning how to properly position your body at your desk, while standing and moving, and while sleeping — as well as incorporating stretches into your daily routine — can be extremely beneficial in preventing future problems.
It is critical to notify your primary care physician of any pain you are currently experiencing, whether acute or chronic (lasting more than three months). Your primary care physician can rule out potentially serious health problems.