Chiropractic physicians are being integrated into healthcare systems, such as Oregon Health and Science University, while many patients go to private chiropractic clinics. It is now common for health insurance policies to include coverage of chiropractic care.
Although it’s clear that chiropractic treatment provides many health benefits, from chronic pain therapy to natural migraine relief, many people still ask, “Do chiropractic treatments work? What is the medical science behind chiropractic care?”
Your Spine and Nervous System
Your nervous system controls everything that happens in your body. Your brain constantly sends signals to your body to tell it what to do, while your body sends reports back to your brain, through your spinal cord and along your nerves to every part of your body. Those nerves must pass through small openings in the bones of your spine.
Illness, injury or stress can move the bones of your spine out of place. The misalignment is called a “subluxation.” When the bones in your spine – the vertebrae – are out of place, they can put pressure on your nerves. The pressure can slow down, scramble or entirely stop your nerve impulses from traveling to and from your brain, which can cause the part of your body connected to those nerves to malfunction.
If the pressure on a nerve is not removed, over time you may find that you have increasing problems and pain. A chiropractor’s job is to find the bones that are out of place and gently return them to their proper position, removing the pressure from your nerves. Spinal adjustment involves applying controlled pressure to a specific vertebra. This will help increase your range of motion, reduce nerve interference, and decrease muscle spasm and pain.
When you have a misalignment/subluxation, it will usually take a number of adjustments for your spine to stabilize in the correct position. Minor injuries often resolve in just a few visits, while more significant injuries or chronic conditions will take longer. Over time, chiropractic care will help your body heal itself so you can live without pain and do the things you want to do.
Recommendations From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Much of the research into the science of chiropractic care has focused on lower back pain. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), chiropractic care is the most commonly used “complementary” therapy for back pain. Among those who used chiropractic care for back pain, 66 percent perceived “great benefit” from their treatment. HHS highlights research that recommends doctors refer patients with lower back pain that does not improve on its own after four weeks to nondrug therapies such as chiropractic treatment. This research stresses that long term opioid use does not improve patient’s physical functioning.
The Chiropractic Physician
In Oregon, chiropractic physicians must graduate from an accredited college. It takes four to five years to complete a chiropractic medicine degree, which includes anatomy, physiology, microbiology, biochemistry, pathology, nutrition, gynecology, pediatrics, geriatrics, differential diagnosis, radiology, spinal analysis, chiropractic manipulation and physiotherapy. In order to practice in Oregon, chiropractors must pass the National Board Examinations and the Oregon State Board Examinations. Yearly continued education is required to maintain an active license to practice.
If you have questions about the medical science behind chiropractic, Graffeo Accident & Injury Clinic is happy to provide you more information. The medical science behind chiropractic is also explored in Recovering From Injury, A True Story of the Power of Chiropractic, by Dr. Joseph A. Graffeo and Dr. Joseph Graffeo.