Please use the following information to learn more about common health problems, and musculoskeletal conditions and the amazing treatments modern chiropractic physicians can offer. If you have any questions, please consider one of "America's Best Chiropractors" for a consultation, examination and care.
Chiropractic is a branch of health care dealing primarily with musculoskeletal system and nervous system disorders and their impact on overall health and wellness. People typically seek chiropractic care to address back pain, neck discomfort, headaches, and joint pain in the arms and legs.
Also referred to as chiropractic adjustment, manipulation of the spine is the most commonly performed chiropractic procedure. Spinal manipulation involves the application of gentle, controlled force to restore mobility to a joint thatís been injured.
Treating Inflammation & Pain:
Causes of joint damage include one-time activities such as incorrectly lifting a heavy item. It may also be caused by repetitive activities, such as operating with poor posture while sitting. In either case, injured tissues undergo physical and chemical changes that can cause inflammation, pain and diminished function.
Your chiropractor may manipulate the impacted joint and tissues to correct misalignment, alleviate inflammation and pain, renew joint function and improve range of motion to allow damaged tissues to heal.
Why Do Joint sometimes Pop during Chiropractic?
That popping sound you hear when you flex your knuckles or undergo chiropractic manipulation is normal. The sound occurs when a gas bubble is released between the joints as a result of a pressure change within the joint.
Advice for Exercises & Lifestyle:
Chiropractorís unique and extensive training also allows them to advise you about helpful exercises to restore function and comfort, improvements in diet or nutrition, lifestyle changes and other therapeutic techniques.† Your chiropractor will advise you when therapy should be combined with other medical treatments to fully address your needs.
A chiropractor undergoes an extremely rigorous education program that includes the same medical training as a primary care doctor along with a focus on diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal disorders. The musculoskeletal system consists of muscles, ligaments, and joints in the spine, arms, and legs, along with their related nerves.
Usually, a chiropractic college applicant is nearing completion of four years of pre-med education in an undergraduate program, having taken courses in biology, physics, chemistry, psychology, and more. †Up to 5 additional years of education is required following acceptance into an accredited chiropractic college. Upon graduation, a chiropractor has received education and training in orthopedics, anatomy, neurology, physiology, lab procedures, clinical diagnosis, diagnostic imaging, exercise, nutrition, and more. Extensive time is spent honing precise manipulation and adjustment techniques. From start to finish, a chiropractor spends at least 4,200 in the classroom, lab, and in clinical training. The study of chiropractic is a fully accredited program recognized by the US Department of Education.
Many major medical plans, as well as workersí compensation, Medicare and some select Medicaid plans, and Blue Cross Blue Shield for federal employees, cover chiropractic care. In addition, over 60 military bases provide active-duty armed forces members with chiropractic care. Veterans may receive chiropractic treatment at many major veteransí medical facilities.
Four out of five people experience back pain at some point in their life. Common causes of back pain include strained muscles, disk issues, sprained ligaments, and irritated joints. Pain can also come from accidental falls, sports injuries, or even just the simplest of movements or twists. In addition, poor posture, psychological stress, arthritis, and obesity may produce or worsen discomfort. Back pain can also come from disease such as blood clots, bone problems, or kidney stones or disease.
See Your Chiropractor
If your back pain lasts more than a few days, consider seeing a chiropractor who can address mechanical problems that lead to a significant amount of back pain. Chiropractic spinal manipulation is an effective and safe pain treatment. Chiropractic care can reduce discomfort, lower the need for medication, help with physical therapy, and limit the need for bed rest.
To Prevent Back Pain
What to Tell Your Chiropractor
It is important to let your chiropractor know if you experience any of the following symptoms:
The median nerve runs from the forearm down into the hand. When this nerve becomes compressed, or entrapped, in the wrist, pain, numbness, and/or weakness can occur in the hand or wrist. Discomfort may radiate up the forearm, as well. This condition is known as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, or CTS. Adult are more likely to experience it, and 30% more women get CTS than men. It usually occurs in the dominant hand first. The pain can be intense.
CTS causes include:
CTS commonly affects assembly-line workers and is considered the most expensive work-related injury. It was once thought that people who worked at computers where more at risk of developing CTS, but this has proven not to be so.
Symptoms of CTS
Often, symptoms first appear while sufferers are sleeping, and a tingling feeling may develop during the day. Other symptoms include:
The following tips may prevent the onset of CTS:
If you think that you have CTS, seek early diagnosis and treatment. A diagnostic evaluation may include:
Treatments for CTS include:
Over 50% of children carrying heavy backpacks to school complain of back pain. The longer a child uses a heavy backpack, the more likely that he or she may get injuredĖ with potential long-term damage to the spine.
More kids experiencing Back, Neck & Shoulder pain- Why?
How can you help?
See a Chiropractor
Doctors of chiropractic treat patients of all ages and use gentle techniques with children. A chiropractor can show your child exercises to develop strong muscles and provide tips on how to avoid pain caused by backpack misuse.
Because kids are usually very active, they often sustain injuries from falls, sporting activities, and just daily life! A chiropractor tailors treatment to each patient and uses gentle techniques to treat children who experience pain, stiffness, or soreness of the back or neck.
The pain from an acute injury serves as a signal to stop that activity. Chronic pain, which is discomfort that lingers for weeks to years, may not have a definite source, such as an injury or an area of bodily damage. Some common types of chronic pain include headache, arthritis, and low back pain.
Chronic pain sufferers are often told that their discomfort is imagined, not real. However, new evidence shows structural changes in the spinal cord nerves of people experiencing chronic pain, demonstrating that chronic pain is, indeed very real.
Long-term discomfort can result in social and psychological issues. People who experience protracted pain often state that theyíre unable to take care of their children, perform household chores, or participate in leisure activities. Careers may suffer, as well. Tension with family members and coworkers can occur as those people associated with a chronic pain sufferer take on additional responsibilities. This can result in depression, resentment, and anger on the part of the pain sufferer.
Depression & Chronic Pain: How are They Linked?
Up to 80% of chronic pain sufferers will experience depression. Itís the most common emotional side effect linked to chronic pain and may lead to increased disability on the part of the pain sufferer. Chronic pain coupled with depression can impact social, mental, and physical wellbeing, decreasing quality of life, and resulting in:
Chronic pain is characterized by:
Major clinical depression is characterized as depression that occurs daily for a period of 2 weeks or longer. People suffering from major clinical depression may experience:
Treatment for Chronic Pain & Depression
In the past, bed rest was often prescribed to treat an injury. However, in some cases immobility can actually worsen the condition. To combat chronic pain, the cause must first be determined, if possible, and then addressed.
A chiropractor can help by encouraging a pain sufferer to:
Fibromyalgia syndrome impacts between 3-6% of Americans. Women are more likely to suffer from fibromyalgia than men. Diagnosis is often difficult, and it may take years for a person to receive an accurate identification.
A person is said to have fibromyalgia if he or she experiences pervasive pain lasting 3 months or longer in all 4 regions of the body, or if the application of pressure results in discomfort in at least 11 spots around the head and shoulder region, chest, elbows, hips, and knees. Some experts will bestow a diagnosis of fibromyalgia if a person experiences fewer than 11 tender spots but has prevalent pain combined with many of the following symptoms:
Because a diagnosis of fibromyalgia is often difficult to render, itís recommended that sufferers of the symptoms listed above seek opinions from more than one doctor or health care provider in order to rule out other conditions. Lab work may be necessary to determine if one or more of the following conditions is present. If so, your doctor will likely treat that problem initially.
If your pain is caused by a muscle or joint condition, chiropractic care may help relieve it more effectively than other therapies.
Classic fibromyalgia may be the diagnosis if no other cause can be found. The traditional approach to treatment, which may include prednisone, antidepressants, medicines to aid sleep, anti-inflammatories, and muscle relaxants, may relieve symptoms. Chiropractic care can offer significant relief for fibromyalgia patients and can help you with more natural approaches to treatment such as:
See your Chiropractor
Chiropractors have the knowledge, skill, and training to help you determine the best course of action to manage fibromyalgia. A personalized system of care involves you, your chiropractor, and other health care providers, as needed.
Ninety percent of Americans are occasional or chronic headache sufferers. Headache pain can range from dull and throbbing to debilitating. Sometimes, headaches can cause nausea. Headache sufferers respond in many ways. Some take medication, others rest, and some just try to deal with the pain as they go about daily activities. Another option to alleviate headache discomfort, especially headaches that begin in the neck and tension headaches, is spinal manipulation.
What causes headaches?
Headaches causes, often called triggers, can include:
Muscle tension in the neck is a primary cause of tension headaches. This tension can occur as a result of sitting in one position for a long period of time, such as when working in front of a computer.
Most headaches are classified as tension, cluster, or migraine headaches and are not caused by disease. Only about 5% of headaches are considered a symptom of a physical ailment.
A doctor of chiropractic can perform the following activities to improve the function of the spine, alleviate stress placed on the spine and joints, and relieve tension in the neck and upper back:
Osteoarthritis, or OA for short, breaks down and ultimately erodes the cartilage of joints, causing swelling, pain, and reduction or loss of movement. Itís a degenerative disease that impacts over 20 million Americans and usually affects people age 65 and over. OA strikes more women than men.
In the past, it was assumed that OA was part of the natural aging process. However, people under the age of 65 are being diagnosed with OA, and itís now thought that excess weight, previous joint injuries, and lack of exercise can contribute to OA.†
Signs of OA
A heath care provider should be contacted if any of these symptoms occur in order to obtain an accurate diagnosis. Sometimes, symptoms such as the ones listed above can be caused by other conditions. A doctor can perform an exam, take a clinical history, order diagnostic tests such as X-rays, and perhaps take a sample of the fluid from a joint to isolate the cause of the discomfort and administer appropriate treatment.
Can Exercise Help OA?
Exercise can be an ideal treatment for OA. It can help prevent it, as well. Exercise encourages joint function and mobility by strengthening the muscles surrounding a joint. The weight control aspect of exercise may help, too. And exercise can elevate mood and outlook, which can affect symptom severity.
OA Exercise Tips
Chiropractor Care for OA
Chiropractors are skilled at identifying joint changes, as the results of joint degeneration can appear in the spine, hips, knees, and other joints. Chiropractic manipulation, massage, and therapy involving trigger points are natural treatments to improve how joints function and alleviate discomfort.
Your chiropractor can also provide tips on appropriate types of exercise, tell you whether the application of heat or cold is recommended, and suggest dietary supplement that may help your OA.
Why is good posture important?
What contributes to poor posture?
Common problems include decreased flexibility, weak postural muscles, abnormally tight muscles, unhealthy work posture, or incorrect standing and sitting habits. Obesity, stress, pregnancy, and high-heeled shoes may also contribute.
Tips to Sit Properly
Tips on Lying Down
Tips on Standing
See Your Chiropractor
Your chiropractor can help you regain proper posture and recommend exercises to strengthen your postural muscles and core. This can reduce your risk of injury and ensure your comfort and health.
Fifty percent of mothers develop back pain during their pregnancy; especially as the baby's head puts pressure on structures near the sciatic nerve. If you had back pain before, pregnancy may make your issues worse. Reasons for back pain during pregnancy include:
For Your Wellbeing
Working & Sleeping
See a Chiropractor
The sciatic nerve Ė the longest, widest nerve in the body Ė runs down the lower back into the lower leg. This nerve controls the lower leg muscles and is responsible for sensations felt from the thighs to the bottom of the feet. The condition known as sciatica is characterized by constant pain along the sciatic nerve. Instead of a true diagnosis, sciatica is actually a combination of symptoms. Most commonly occurring in people age 30 to 50 years old, sciatica is often caused by normal wear and tear on the lower spine and not by an injury.
The onset of sciatica pain can be gradual. Over time, it can intensify and may become worse after sudden movements, sneezing, coughing, bending, and other activities. Symptoms may vary according to the location at which the nerve is impacted and include:
A diagnosis begins with a full patient history. Description of the pain and information related to the pain, such as when it started and what makes it worse or better, will aid in diagnosing the condition. A physical and neurological exam, as well as activities that assess sensory and muscle strength, will also provide information.
If a predetermined duration of conservative treatment doesnít yield results, X-rays, an MRI, or a CT scan may be performed to rule out other conditions causing the pain.
It may not be possible to prevent sciatica, but practicing good habits can improve the health of your back and spine.
Your chiropractor can provide conservative, non-surgical, and drug-free options to treat sciatica and improve spinal function. The treatment options depend on each individual case and may include:
Spinal Stenosis: Causes & Symptoms
Commonly a chronic, degenerative condition, spinal stenosis occurs when the spinal canal narrows. Causes include:
Some sufferers of spinal stenosis may not even know they have it. Itís only after an accident or a fall that the pain characteristic of spinal stenosis is felt. Symptoms of spinal stenosis include:
Diagnosing & Treating Spinal Stenosis
To diagnose spinal stenosis, your doctor will ask you about past and current symptoms and perform a physical exam. An electrodiagnostic study can provide helpful information to correctly diagnose and treat spinal stenosis. Diagnostic imaging is useful in locating tumors causing spinal stenosis, and blood work can tell the doctor if the spinal stenosis is caused by an infection or abscess.
While the source of stenosis-related discomfort is based on the specific cause, treatment typically falls into three categories:
Due to the chronic nature of stenosis, it canít be cured. However, the symptoms can be addressed and treated to alleviate discomfort, improve function, and increase quality of life.
Exercise provides a great way to maintain or improve health, benefitting the heart, joints, and bones. Exercising can also help manage stress. With exercise, as with any activity, injuries may occur. Sometimes injuries happen as a result of not using safety equipment or exercising too vigorously. Novices to a certain sport or activity may also sustain injuries. If you donít currently exercise, itís important to see your chiropractor before beginning to discuss how to exercise safely and effectively.
The most frequently injured parts of the body include:
Strains/Sprains: The muscles, ligaments, and tendons commonly sustain injury during exercise or sporting activities. The muscles attach to bones via the tendons; bones connect to each other with ligaments. A strain occurs when muscles or tendons tear, often as a result of being twisted or overextended. Sprains happen when ligaments are torn. A muscle, ligament, or tendon that suffers a complete tear may require surgery. Disc herniation or bulge occurs when an intervertebral disc, which is a ligament between the vertebrae in the spine, tears. Commons strains/sprains involve the ankle and the knee.
Stress Fractures: Also called fatigue fractures, stress fractures occur when a bone incurs excessive stress, such as when a runner over-trains for a race or a person new to running logs too many miles too early. Shin splints are a type of micro-fracture that occurs on the front of the shin bone.
Tendinosis/Tendinitis: Overuse of a joint or joints caused by overtraining and resulting in discomfort and dysfunction is categorized as overuse syndrome. Tendinosis, which is also referred to as tendinitis, is a common overuse injury characterized by inflammation. Other overuse syndrome conditions consist of rotator cuff injuries, tennis elbow, and golferís elbow.
Diagnosis & Treating Sports Injuries
A discussion of how the injury occurred, along with a physical exam, and possible X-rays, MRI, and/or ultrasound can isolate the source of the discomfort. With regard to treatment, a fracture may require a cast or other method of immobilization. Surgery is rarely required.
Most sports- or exercise-related injuries are treated as follows:
Since some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory/pain medications may actually impede healing, use them only as needed and as recommended by a health care provider.
Preventing Sports- & Exercise-Related Injuries
The term whiplash is used to describe injuries resulting from the neck being suddenly or forcefully jerked back and forth in a whiplike motion. Whiplash typically occurs as a result of an automobile accident, fall, sports-related injury, workplace occurrence, or other accident-related scenario.
Sometimes, whiplash symptoms donít appear right away. They may wait up to 48 hours to present themselves. Itís not understood why this occurs, although some say itís because of delayed muscle soreness.
People with whiplash most commonly complain of neck stiffness. Thatís because the incident causing the whiplash lifts the head from the upper spine, creating a strain or sprain below the skull and causing discomfort. Certain activities, such as turning the head, can worsen the pain.
Another symptom seen in over 66% of whiplash sufferers is a headache that occurs at the base of the skull. The headache pain may occur on one or both sides of the head, and the discomfort may run down through the shoulders and into the upper back and/or chest.†
Other whiplash symptoms can include:
Most of these symptoms go away quickly. If they continue, tell your doctor. Rarely do symptoms continue, but there have been occurrences where they persisted for weeks and even years.
Unless an injury requires staying immobile, remaining active is crucial to managing whiplash. Patients are encouraged to move, always exercising common sense when doing so. A doctor may even prescribe an exercise/stretching regimen. Patients are advised to follow their doctorís instructions in order to obtain optimal results.
Chiropractors use spinal manipulation, along with physical therapy, to treat whiplash. Electrical stimulation, the use of heat and/or ice, and ultrasound may also be used in conjunction with an exercise and stretching program to manage whiplash symptoms.
While thereís no sure way to prevent whiplash, safe practices while driving or riding in a car, such as wearing a seat belt and adjusting the headrest to the correct height, can lessen the chance of a severe injury in case of an accident.