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Does Chiropractic Have Any Scientific Basis?

By Brandi Goodman

Science & Chiropractic

Chiropractic has long been used as a treatment method for back pain and joint dysfunctions. However, many people have feared or avoided chiropractic because they weren’t sure of -- or didn’t understand -- the science behind it. Chiropractic treatment does, in fact, have a scientific basis, rendering it a worthwhile option for medical care. Learning more about it can help you discover just how advantageous it can be for yourself and others who may need alternative treatment options.

What Does the Medical Science Community Say About Chiropractic?

Doctors, dentists, chiropractors, and physical therapists make up the largest groups of healthcare professionals. As such, the medical science community realizes just how important chiropractic services are to helping promote overall public health. Complementary and alternative medicine is just as important to consider as traditional medicine. A holistic approach can help treat the person as a whole, rather than focusing on one particular body part or problem at the moment.

Of course, this wasn’t always the thinking. It has only been since the 1990s that chiropractic research has truly taken shape and more and more people have become interested in learning the science behind it. Prior to this, many believed it was unfounded and only a pseudoscience that had no business being included amongst true medical techniques.

What Specific Studies Support Chiropractic As a Treatment?

Numerous studies have been completed over the years supporting chiropractic as a valuable treatment option. One such study was completed in 2012 by SM Rubinstein, CB Terwee, Assendelft, MR de Boer, and MW Van Tulder. Throughout their chiropractic research between 2010 and 2012, these professionals determined that spinal manipulative therapy for acute low back pain was an effective treatment for reducing discomfort. However, it is important to note that it was not more effective than other treatments tried, such as inert interventions, but it was still a worthwhile option.

Another study, in 2021, indicated chiropractic as a reputable treatment option for neck pain. Discovered by Aleksander Chaibi, Knut Stavem, and Michael Bjorn Russell, manual manipulation is a viable option for minimizing acute neck pain and associated headaches. Because more than 50 percent of the general adult population experience some sort of neck pain in their lifetimes, it is necessary to find a treatment plan that works. Receiving routine chiropractic may help you. Even 8 percent of general practitioners recommend their patients receive some form of manual therapy to alleviate their discomfort and improve range of motion in this area.

Between 2015 and 2020, another study was conducted on children in regards to chiropractic effectiveness for headaches. Though it will not necessarily eliminate headaches from a person’s life, spinal manipulation did reduce the frequency that the participants had headaches throughout the examination period. The headaches were typically still just as intense, but they happened far less often with chiropractic added to their treatment regimen, making it a valuable option for people who experience headaches often.

What Is the History of Chiropractic Success in Treating Ailments?

Chiropractic has long been used to treat a number of health problems. In fact, the chiropractic profession has been around since 1895. Daniel David Palmer initiated the first ever chiropractic school by 1987 in an effort to teach others about manual manipulation techniques to treat ailments. By 1913, Kansas became the first state to implement a license required to hold the title of chiropractor, and now all 50 states and nearly just as many countries require licensing.

Palmer’s first “patient” was a partially deaf janitor at the office where he worked at the time. Asking the man about a vertebrae out of place on his back, Harvey Lillard explained that he heard a pop in his back after moving the wrong way. His hearing went with it. Palmer performed an adjustment, and the next day Lillard exclaimed that some sound had returned to his ears.

Although the first book on chiropractic, titled, “Modernized Chiropractic,” came out in 1906, it was not until 1975 that chiropractic research was required by the National Institutes of Health. Doctors and scientists were still skeptical about the efficacy of chiropractic and its place among health care options until the research really grew in the 1990s and early 2000s.

According to Studies, for What Injuries Has Chiropractic Shown the Most Benefit?

There is significant evidence that chiropractic benefits the musculoskeletal system. It is especially adept at diminishing pain in the lower back. Chiropractic adjustments also help improve certain injuries, such as whiplash and damage to the soft tissue during a jarring collision such as that from a car accident or contact sport like football, or a sprain or spasm that came about while playing sports.

In 2018, study results were released that determined whether medical care alone or care paired with chiropractic was a better solution for low back pain in U.S. service members. Several doctors of chiropractic and PhDs conducted the study. Christine Goertz, Cynthia Long, Robert Vining, Katherine Pohlman, Joan Walter, and Ian Coulter together determined that adding chiropractic care helped reduce the intensity of lower back pain and improved some of the participants’ disability. Active duty military personnel experiencing aches and loss of mobility should seek both medical assistance and chiropractic for the most benefit. In fact, anyone experiencing low back pain due to their workload or daily habits can see improvement with chiropractic care in their treatment plan. Although low back pain was the main focus, pain in the middle and upper back can also be helped.

Whiplash can result in long-term symptoms for nearly half of the people who experience it. MN Woodward, JC Cook, MF Gargan, and GC Bannister conducted a study to determine if chiropractic care could help. Out of 28 patients dealing with chronic whiplash syndrome, 26 of them saw significant improvements with their symptoms after receiving chiropractic care, rendering it an effective solution. If you experience whiplash, it is recommended you visit a chiropractor to seek relief from the pain and loss of mobility because of it.

NFL trainers hand out chiropractic referrals to their players for a reason. Speed, agility, and reaction time can all be improved with routine chiropractic care. Injuries sustained from sports can also benefit. One study completed by Scott F. Gillman, found that even young athletes in their teenage years suffering from recurrent lateral ankle sprain syndrome could experience less pain and fewer additional problems when given a rounded chiropractic treatment. An adjustment performed not just to the ankle, but the spine, pelvis, and lower extremities, is most effective.

How Does Chiropractic Physically Improve Brain-Body Functionality?

Your central nervous system is responsible for the functioning of your brain and body. Your thoughts, movement, and perception are just a fraction of what this system affects. When you have a joint dysfunction, it can interfere with your brain/body connection and your overall functioning. Gentle chiropractic manipulation can correct a vertebral subluxation that is impeding your brain’s ability to think and process correctly, or your body’s ability to move within its full range. This can help improve physical symptoms, such as headaches, backaches, difficulty focusing, trouble sleeping, or limited mobility.

When trying to determine if chiropractic is a trick or treatment, the undeniable facts about alternative medicine provide your answer. Chiropractic care is a science-based treatment option with studies proving its efficacy. Whether you choose to utilize the service for yourself or not, there is no denying that it is a reputable option for those who should choose it. If you do choose to utilize this type of treatment, feel free to visit The Joint Chiropractic to discuss your options and have an assessment. An individualized approach ensures each person receives the precise type of care that is best for them and the current symptoms experienced.

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