The chiropractic profession is an interesting one to be a part of. For some, they more than accept the role chiropractic can play in not only getting them out of pain, but also elevating their overall sense of health and well-being. For others, they remain skeptical and dismissive for reasons that simply come down to myths and misconceptions that have been perpetuated for years. We can thank growing amounts of scientific evidence that has proven many common myths and misconceptions about chiropractic to be false.
In this article, we want to address some common myths and misconceptions regarding chiropractic, addressing them from an educational viewpoint. But before we get into those, it would benefical to define what chiropractic is for those of our readers who may not be familiar with the scope of the profession.
What is Chiropractic?
Chiropractic is the most commonly utilized form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in the United States, focusing on the musculoskeletal and nervous systems. Doctors of Chiropractic perform examinations, diagnose conditions, and determine appropriate and safe treatment plans utilizing an effective, hands-on approach without the use of drugs or surgery. Other than traditional chiropractic adjustments or manipulative therapy, chiropractors can receive additional training in rehabilitation, sports injuries, myofasical release techniques, taping, bracing, passive modalities (i.e. electrical stimulation, ultrasound, laser therapy), as well as nutrition and implement these into patient treatment plans.
Now that we’ve had a brief overview of what chiropractic is, let’s discuss some common myths and misconceptions.
#1 – There is no scientific evidence to support chiropractic
This is probably the number one myth or misconception that I encounter on a regular basis. The reality is, there is a massive amount of scientific research that supports the effectiveness of chiropractic and chiropractic manipulative therapy (CMT) for a number of musculoskeletal conditions.
CMT has demonstrated effectiveness in the treatment of:
- Low back pain (1)
- Sciatica (2)
- Neck pain (3)
- Headaches (Tension and Migraine) (4)
- Shoulder pain (5)
- Hypertension (aka high blood pressure) (6)
- Certain neurological conditions (7)
#2 – Chiropractors only treat necks and backs
On the heels of our first myth/misconception, the effectiveness of chiropractic goes far beyond simply treating neck and back pain. Yes, randomized controlled trials support the efficacy of chiropractic treatment for common acute and chronic conditions such as headaches, neck pain and low back pain. However, with specialized training, chiropractors are also capable of treating disc injuries, sciatic pain, strain and sprain injuries, nerve pain, vertigo, TMJ, ear infections, plantar fasciitis, asthma, ADHD, whiplash, scoliosis, IT band syndrome, injuries from auto accidents, and symptoms associated with pregnancy. Common overuse conditions such rotator cuff injuries, tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other forms of tendonitis also respond well to chiropractic treatment.
Not all chiropractors are the same in their competency and abilities. It’s important that you perform your due diligence to find a chiropractor that will be able to treat your condition effectively.
#3 – Once you start going to a chiropractor, you have to go for life
Many of heard that once you go to a chiropractor, you have to go for life. The same thing can be said of a many healthcare providers, such as regular check-ups with your MD or your dentist. Many people choose to continue getting periodic adjustments and chiropractic therapy to help them feel better. Others may decide to see us from time to time for episodes of pain or relapses in their condition.
It’s your choice.
Now while some chiropractors and their approach to patient management have given all chiropractors a bad name, the majority of chiropractors aren’t looking to make you come back regularly for the rest of your life. But what they hope for is that they have a patient for life and that when someone needs to be seen, they know were they can go for trusted treatment and advice.
#4 – All you do is “crack backs”, that’s easy
This one is probably the most humorous to me as many will imply that what a chiropractor does is “easy”. That all we do is simply “crack backs” and that is easy to do. I’ve had people tell me, “I can do what you do.” The reality is that while yes, making a joint “crack” or “pop” is relatively easy to learn to do, the complication is finding where and how to adjust/manipulate. Palpation is the true art and skill – and it takes years to develop and fine-tune.
The chiropractic adjustment or manipulative therapy is what chiropractors are best known for, but thanks to advancements in the management of musculoskeletal conditions, chiropractors also incorporate many facets into their evaluation and treatment of patients.
Not all chiropractors will just place you in a room with heat and stim, adjust you in less than 5 minutes and send you on your way.
I can’t speak for all chiropractors and why they practice the way they do. For me, I choose to incorporate a number of treatment options for the betterment of my patients and their goal-specific outcomes.
In addition to chiropractic manipulative therapy, Gallagher Performance offers:
- MYOFASCIAL RELEASE. Myofascial release targets adhesions that develop either within a single muscle or between adjacent muscles and other forms of connective tissue such as fascia, tendons and ligaments. Many athletes and patients experience accumulative or overuse trauma (ex: plantar fasciitis due to running or carpal tunnel syndrome due to prolonged computer/desk work). The goal becomes to work a muscle to remove adhesions and restore neuromuscular function to decrease pain while increasing range of motion, strength, and coordination of movement.
- FUNCTIONAL REHABILITATION. In addition to providing relief through chiropractic manipulative therapy and treating muscular adhesions, it can prove to be incredibly valuable to identify the source of a patient’s symptoms. The functional approach to rehabilitation includes identifying joint dysfunction, muscular imbalances, trigger points, and faulty movement patterns. These are often the hidden causes of injury. Observing how a patient moves and functions allows us to identify improper movement patterns that become contributors to pain and poor sport performance. By placing an emphasis on strategies to improve movement and function, functional rehabilitation is effective in improving qualities of endurance, strength, stability, balance, agility, coordination, and body awareness.
- DYNAMIC NEUROMUSCULAR STABILIZATION (DNS) & VOJTA THERAPY. DNS and Vojta Therapy are advanced approaches used to not only treat a variety of neuromuscular conditions but also used by athletes worldwide to elevate performance. By applying principles and techniques rooted in the study of child development, DNS and Vojta Therapy aim to improve and restore the activation ideal movement patterns. These techniques are used to promote the ideal postures, movements, and degree of body awareness that is essential not only to athleticism, but to also treating the underlying causes of several pain syndromes that are commonly treated by chiropractors and rehabilitation specialists. There are dozens of studies to support the effectiveness of DNS.
- NERVE FLOSSING (NEURODYNAMIC MOBILIZATIONS). Nerve flossing is a specialized diagnostic and treatment technique commonly used to diagnose and treat neural tension, which usually expresses symptoms such as muscular tightness, pain, weakness, numbness and/or tingling. Nerve flossing is proposed to help nerves and its branches slide against adjacent structures (muscles, bone, etc.), increase blood flow, oxygen and nutrient delivery, and improve the immune response. (8)
- THERAPEUTIC & CORRECTIVE EXERCISE. Exercise progressions and protocols are used to develop strength, range of motion, re-educate the neuromuscular system in order to address the underlying causes of dysfunction and pain.
Chiropractic care can prove to be more beneficial than many may realize or want to acknowledge. When combined with manual therapy, functional approaches to rehabilitation, and sound scientific principles of exercise prescription, chiropractors have an ability to conservatively effective treat a wide array of conditions. The evidence shared in this article only scratches the surface. There is more research than I can fit into this blog post. I encourage you to research and read if you are inclined. Become educated and informed so you can make the best decisions for you and your health.
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