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Chiropractic Care: The Answer To Back Pain?

Chiropractic Care: The Answer To Back Pain?

Painkillers, ice, and rest are common treatments prescribed to sufferers of back pain. But these options can feel like a temporary bandage. As a result, sufferers often find themselves wondering: can chiropractors help with back pain? In many cases, yes they can.

Over 16 million adults in America suffer from chronic back pain. As a result, chiropractic care has grown in popularity as a non-invasive, prescription drug-free treatment method for such pain, often in conjunction with physical therapy. For millions of patients, it works.


What Is Chiropractic Care and Spinal Manipulation?

The general premise of chiropractic is that a spine out of place leads to body pain, inflammation, and discomfort. Most chiropractors treat pain via spinal manipulation, essentially putting the spine back in place. The practice is often referred to as an adjustment.

In essence, spinal manipulation consists of quick, targeted movements that realign various parts of the spine. These manipulations or movements can involve pressure from a chiropractor’s hands, the use of small tools, or other techniques applied to a person’s body.


How Does Chiropractic Spinal Manipulation Help Back Pain?

So how does spinal manipulation help back pain? Manipulation returns mobility to joints, helps restricted tissues improve elasticity, and can reduce scar tissue development. In simple terms, it allows the body to move better, reducing pain and inflammation.

Furthermore, chiropractic treatment helps back pain sufferers retake control of their bodies. Complementary therapies used with chiropractic care like massage and exercises help strengthen the body to reduce the risk of increasing pain and improve the body’s overall function.


Who Gets Chiropractic Care?

On average, 35 million Americans get chiropractic treatment a year. Individuals of all backgrounds use chiropractic care, including:

  • Weight lifters
  • Chronic pain sufferers
  • People who want alternatives to painkillers
  • Military members
  • Office workers
  • Teachers
  • Laborers
  • Children
  • Pregnant women
  • And more!

Tangible Evidence of Chiropractic Efficiency

Studies by the Journal of the American Medical Association Journal and the Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine indicate that back pain in military service members treated with chiropractic improved over their counterparts treated with opioid or pain-relieving drugs.

Additionally, the American College of Physicians (ACP) has recommended a conservative approach via spinal manipulation to treat back pain since 2017. Many health insurance companies now cover chiropractic, thanks to the recommendation by ACP.

Chiropractic Care: The Answer To Back Pain?

Types of Chiropractic Treatments Used For Back Pain

Chiropractic does not only involve a quick pop and crack of the neck or back before sending a patient on their way. Instead, most chiropractic treatments involve a holistic approach to treating the out-of-place joints and the muscles, tissues, and ligaments around them.

In most situations, chiropractors treating patients with chronic or severe back pain find themselves treating tense muscles, inflammation, and stiffness as well as spinal dysfunction. Therefore, most chiropractors use multiple treatment types to fix the problem adequately.

Common treatments found in a chiropractic setting (outside of just spinal manipulation) include:


Massage and Soft Tissue Therapy

Soft tissue (muscles, tendons, nerves, etc.) connects the body, acting as the tape, support, or glue that holds everything together. When the spine is misaligned, soft tissue generally suffers and develops tears, bruising, or inflammation.

Many chiropractors choose to treat soft tissue during an adjustment. Often, gentle massage, deep tissue work, or even a variation of Eastern cupping treatments help relieve muscle tension in the patient.

Often, soft tissue therapy occurs before any spinal manipulation to help reduce the pain and resistance of the body. Patients will adjust easier if the body relaxes before adjustment.


Joint Taping

Joint taping, often called Kinesio taping, helps keep adjusted joints and muscles in proper alignment after the appointment.

The body is prone to remembering misalignment and snapping back out of place if not encouraged to stay correctly aligned. Kinesio taping can help reduce pain and misalignment recurrence until the next appointment.



After or before an adjustment, chiropractors often practice stretching on the patient’s neck, back, legs, and other impacted body parts. Stretching promotes muscle relaxation and can help reduce joint inflammation, nerve pain, and mobility issues.

Some chiropractors practice a particular version of stretching called traction. Traction is particularly effective for treating back pain. Traction stretches the spine, helping to decompress the muscles, nerves, and discs.


Strengthening Therapies

Many patients struggling with back pain suffer weakness in their back, abdominal, and neck muscles as a result. Chiropractors typically administer or recommend strengthening exercises to help the body withstand additional or further injury.


Acupuncture or Dry Needling

Many chiropractors practice other alternative therapies in their offices. For example, acupuncture, or the Western equivalent dry needling, is used to help reduce inflammation and muscle pain in the body.



Acupuncture comes from China and has existed for thousands of years. The practice uses thin needles in strategic points of the body to stimulate the chi or energy of the body to promote healing. It is not a scientifically recognized treatment, but millions of people use it.


Dry Needling

Unlike acupuncture, dry needling targets the sore muscles of the body specifically. The chiropractor inserts acupuncture needles into knots or trigger points of the muscle, forcing them to relax and release tension. Science backs the use of dry needling.


Electrical Stimulation (E-Stim) Treatment

Electrical stimulation, or e-stim, mimics the action of signals coming from neurons in the human body. The treatment targets muscles or nerves to improve blood flow and reduce pain responses in patients.

E-stim utilizes patches attached to a small current-producing device placed on the patient’s skin to conduct the electricity. Many chiropractors use e-stim as a pill-free treatment for pain. It is effective for sciatica, herniated discs, and other forms of back pain.

Chiropractic Care: The Answer To Back Pain?

Can Chiropractic Work With Other Back Pain Treatments?

Yes, chiropractic work complements other traditional back pain treatments well. Patients can and should continue their prescription medications, physical therapy, and diet or exercise programs to help improve their back pain.


What To Expect During Chiropractic Treatment?

Most chiropractic offices use similar set-ups for patient appointments:

The First Visit

  • Patients fill out paperwork.
  • Occasionally, the clinic takes X-Rays of the patient.
  • Patients will have a lengthy discussion of pain, injuries, and health history.
  • Patients receive an adjustment and complementary treatments.
  • The provider and patient discuss the ongoing Treatment Plan.

The Next Visits

  • Adjustments continue.
  • Complementary Treatments continue.
  • Treatment plans update accordingly.


Is Chiropractic Relief Permanent?

Chiropractic care, while effective for back pain, is not always a permanent fix. Like most medical treatments, maintenance visits and self-care practices are needed to keep pain in check. The need for maintenance is especially true for chronic back pain sufferers.

However, sometimes a single or a handful of chiropractic appointments can fix back pain. It depends mainly on the source of the pain. Injuries, perhaps a back tweak from moving wrong at the gym or falling on ice, can occasionally heal with just one or two appointments.

However, conditions like arthritis, Parkinson’s, auto-immune diseases, or severe injuries, frequently require additional, ongoing chiropractic treatment alongside other medical care.


Benefits of Chiropractic Treatments

Chiropractic care comes with many benefits for sufferers of back pain or any other type of pain.

  • Chiropractic care can reduce pain levels.
  • Chiropractic care can reduce inflammation in joints.
  • Chiropractic care uses no opioids or other pain-killing prescriptions or over-the-counter drugs.
  • In many patients, chiropractic care can help patients reduce or quit addictive painkillers.
  • Chiropractic care can reduce the need for painkillers.
  • Insurance often covers chiropractic care.
  • Chiropractic care complements other treatments.
  • Chiropractic care treats more than just back pain, including neck, wrist, ankle, knee, and other types of pain.


Risks of Chiropractic Treatments

  • Improper adjustments can cause herniated discs.
  • Improper chiropractic care can cause compression of nerves in the lower spinal column.
  • Rarely, strokes can occur after neck manipulation.
  • Headaches can occur post-manipulation.
  • Stiffness or pain can occur post-manipulation.


Who Shouldn’t Get Chiropractic Care?

Individuals with the following conditions should not get chiropractic care. All other individuals should ask their doctor and speak honestly with their chiropractor about care options:

  • Osteoporosis.
  • Spinal Cancer.
  • Risk of Stroke.
  • Bone Abnormalities.
  • Degenerative Bone Disease.

Anyone interested in chiropractic care should discuss their options with a doctor familiar with their current medical treatments and conditions.


Final Thoughts On Back Pain and Chiropractic Care

When it comes to overcoming back or other chronic pain conditions, sufferers should consider chiropractic care. The non-invasive treatment works well with medication, physical therapy, and other traditional pain treatments.

Back pain debilitates millions of people a year. However, sufferers everywhere can benefit from chiropractic care that can significantly improve their spine’s mobility, reduce inflammation, and generally provide a better quality of life for sufferers.

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