Despite their sometimes contentious relationship with the medical world, chiropractors continue to thrive in the US. They are not just about popping spines; they can treat a wide range of ailments including backaches, headaches, and muscle pains. Chiropractors also teach people how to make healthier lifestyle choices that will prevent serious health problems down the road.
A doctor of chiropractic (DC) is a highly trained and licensed healthcare professional who treats disorders of the musculoskeletal system, including the spine, neck, arms and legs. It is a hands-on health care profession that is focused on diagnosis, treatment and prevention of these disorders, without the use of medication or surgery.
It is not unusual for DCs to collaborate with other health professionals within your circle of care, including physicians, nurse practitioners, physiotherapists, massage therapists and registered dietitians. This is because they are trained to identify issues that may require the input of other professionals, and to refer for further examination.
Most people know that chiropractic can help alleviate back and neck pain, but it can also be helpful with other aches and pains like arthritis, asthma, chronic headaches and migraines, and even fibromyalgia and carpal tunnel syndrome. Unlike drugs and surgical procedures, which may only provide temporary relief, chiropractic treatments can address the root cause of the problem and help you manage your symptoms long term.
Spinal manipulation is the technique that most people associate with chiropractors. It involves moving and jolting joints to relieve pressure on the nerves, reduce inflammation and improve function. It is most often used to treat back, neck and shoulder pain but it can be useful in treating other discomforts such as menstrual cramps and sinus issues.
Other popular treatments include therapeutic stretches, spinal traction and instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization. Therapeutic stretches can prevent scar tissue from forming after an injury, increase flexibility and mobility, and protect against future injuries. A good chiropractor will show you how to perform these stretches and won’t let you go on your own until you are confident in doing them properly.
Another common technique is ice and heat therapy. Ice therapy can reduce swelling and control pain right after an injury, and warm temperatures can relax muscles and increase circulation.
A DC is also trained to provide nutritional and dietary counseling, which can be very beneficial for people with chronic health conditions. For example, poor diet and nutritional imbalances can contribute to heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer. A qualified DC can assess your eating habits and recommend changes to improve your overall health.