Can Chiropractic Care Help With Chronic Pain?

August 17, 2022

Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts for longer than 12 weeks. It affects 1.5 billion people worldwide and 100 million Americans. Chronic pain can stem from an acute injury but it is also a hallmark of other diseases, such as diabetes, arthritis, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, and chronic pain syndrome. The treatment of chronic pain can often be complex and prescription painkillers alone are often not enough to manage the pain.

The management of chronic pain needs to tackle all aspects of the patient's life because there are psychological, lifestyle, and educational elements that feed into the severity and rehabilitation of chronic pain. Chiropractic care is well suited to the management of chronic pain because it takes a patient-centered approach whereby chiropractors are trained in treatment and counseling across a wide range of modalities.

How chiropractic care can help with chronic pain

Chiropractic physicians are trained to take a multidimensional approach to chronic pain. They will first take a thorough and detailed medical history, as well as performing medical and psychological tests. Following this, a treatment plan will be developed with the patient's input that will cover physical treatments, education, psychological interventions, and working with the patient on self-management tools. They will also monitor and reassess regularly to make sure that the treatment plan is working.

A wide variety of treatments can be offered as part of the treatment plan. These can include:

1) Therapeutic exercise

These are exercises that are focused on strengthening and stabilizing the problem areas of the body. The chiropractor will work with the patient so that they can continue these exercises at home.

2) Spinal manipulation

This involves the use of short, sharp thrusts on the vertebrae of the spine with the aim of relieving pressure on the joints, reducing inflammation, and improving nerve function. This type of manipulation can also be used on other affected joints.

3) Mobilization

This is similar to spinal manipulation, but it uses slower gentler movements to improve the range of motion and functioning of the joint.

4) Therapeutic stretching

This is used to improve flexibility, mobility, to protect against new injuries, and to prevent scar tissue from forming.

5) Therapeutic massage

This is used to relieve pain caused by problems in the soft tissue. It can be used to break down scar tissue, relieve tension, reduce swelling, and promote healing. Specific techniques such as Active Release Technique and Graston Technique can also be used.

6) Ice and heat therapy

This technique is used to relieve pain from soft tissue injuries. The heat relaxes the muscles and increases circulation, while the ice reduces inflammation.

7) Electronic modalities

New technologies can be used to help relieve pain. This can include transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), which involves releasing small electrical impulses through the skin to disrupt pain signals from nerve endings to the brain.

8) Nutritional counseling

A healthy diet can be an important part of managing chronic pain and chiropractors are trained to give advice about nutrition.

9) Lifestyle counseling

Chronic pain can often be made worse by a variety of lifestyle factors, such as smoking, poor sleep, lack of exercise, and stress. Chiropractors can help to give advice about changing any lifestyle areas that could be making the chronic pain worse.

If the chiropractor thinks that other health professionals can help in managing the chronic pain, they will refer and work with them to develop the best treatment plan for the patient.

Chronic pain is complex and psychological, lifestyle, and health factors can often play a part in how chronic pain develops and is sustained. Chiropractic care offers a treatment style that takes all of these factors into account, both when making a diagnosis, and when developing and implementing a treatment plan.

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