Spinal care just like that delivered here at Atlantis Chiropractic and Wellness in Woodbridge, represents a more focused attempt by doctors of natural health care to tackle musculoskeletal problems in patients, but it seems the effects of the care can go well beyond easing pain.
More evidence is emerging that spinal care alone is enough to produce a positive response in the related visceral conditions of musculoskeletal pain, and in this article we look at the potential of the treatment to produce positive relief for such conditions in patients.
Since the modern emergence of chiropractic care in the late 1800s, chiropractors have dealt with more problems and conditions than just aching or painful backs; the scope has spread out from treating pain itself to include treatment for other ailments caused by suspected interference with nerves, leading to diseases of the organs all initially caused by spinal abnormalities. Perhaps in recognition of the fact that evidence-based research forms the foundation of most public opinion (with a good deal of spin from the press) in the last fifteen years or so we have seen a move towards chiropractic based on musculoskeletal symptomatic relief. The expectation is that outcomes of pain relief are easier to prove, though the connection to organic diseases or non-musculoskeletal, visceral conditions persists.
Chiropractic care encompasses over 100 distinct techniques that may or may not use specialised equipment. Spinal care is one of the key categories of therapeutic approaches, along with spinal decompression therapy, massage, acupuncture, laser therapy, electrical muscle stimulation, diathermy, ultrasound, cryotherapy and others.
Chiropractic is defined by Healthline as a primary therapeutic application that involves applying a specific amount of force vectored through a specific plane of motion of a spinal or peripheral joint, in order to reduce joint restriction and facilitate normal range of motion.
A systematic review conducted in 2010, and published in The Spine Journal, found the following:
Results from most studies suggest that 5 to 10 sessions of chiropractic administered over 2 to 4 weeks achieve equivalent or superior improvement in pain and function when compared with other commonly used interventions, such as physical modalities, medication, education, or exercise, for short, intermediate, and long-term follow-up.
However, the positive results dont stop there.
In 1999, a Danish-Swedish study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found some unexpected improvements in patients non-spinal conditions following spinal care. The study authors set out to investigate the frequency and types of improved non-musculoskeletal symptoms reported after chiropractic.
They sought retrospective information from 87 Swedish chiropractors, who interviewed patients about their non-musculoskeletal conditions and reactions from treatment on their return visit, two weeks after their initial visit.
Results were very encouraging:
At least 1 reaction was reported after the previous treatment in 21% to 25% of cases. Of these responses, 26% were related to the airway passages (usually reported as easier to breathe), 25% were related to the digestive system (mostly reported as improved function), 14% were classified under eyes/vision (usually reported as improved vision), and 14% under heart/ circulation (about half of these reported as improved circulation). The number of spinal areas treated was positively associated with the number of reactions.
The conclusion from this study suggested that, in an encouraging number of cases, positive non-musculoskeletal reactions may have been produced as a result of chiropractic. Though clearly this study was limited in nature, and it is not known whether the positive reaction was due to real physiologic improvements or based on subjective impressions it set the ground for much-needed further investigation into the subject via controlled randomised trials.
Why chiropractic may have these other positive effects is not entirely understood either, though one possible reason could be that chiropractic procedures reduce inflammation in the body, which is a known cause of disease. With the growing number of chronic conditions and diseases hitting urban populations in all parts of the world today, and over-medicating certainly no answer to this, spinal care will have an important role to play alongside lifestyle factors such as diet and activity levels in improving peoples health.