Why should I go see a chiropractor for my back/neck pain?
First off, there is no way I can condense the reasons why you should go see a chiropractor in one blog post. So instead, I will touch on some reasons why I believe chiropractic care is good for us and where I believe chiropractors fit into our healthcare system compared to other providers.
Seeing a chiropractor can be very beneficial for diagnosing and treating most of your neuromusculoskeletal problems-because it’s our specialty. Most of my friends don’t know this, but it typically takes 7.5 years total to earn a Chiropractic degree. During those years we get the opportunity to dissect the entire human body in anatomy class, along with taking advanced courses in: neuroanatomy, physiology, biomechanics, biology, chiropractic techniques, etc. etc. (I’m glad I don’t have to go to class anymore.) The reason I’m telling you this is because while other healthcare professionals take similar course loads, each of our courses are tailored to diagnosing, managing, and the conservative treatment of neuromusculoskeletal issues. (This includes a magnified focus on the back and neck). We also have a full year treating patients prior to graduation. It’s kind of like our “chiropractic residency”. So, the first reason you should consider seeing a chiropractor if you have back/neck pain is because we are well-qualified, and well-experienced.
The second reason you should go see a chiropractor is because the alternative approaches in my opinion are either riskier, more expensive, or less effective. This article posted in Annals of Internal Medicine helps to explain my point on why a chiropractic AKA “manual therapists” office is a great place to start with your neck pain… “In our randomized, controlled trial, we compared the effectiveness of manual therapy, physical therapy, and continued care by a general practitioner in patients with nonspecific neck pain. The success rate at seven weeks was twice as high for the manual therapy group (68.3 percent) as for the continued care group (general practitioner). Manual therapy scored better than physical therapy on all outcome measures. Patients receiving manual therapy had fewer absences from work than patients receiving physical therapy or continued care, and manual therapy and physical therapy each resulted in statistically significant less analgesic use than continued care.”
I’ll throw a disclaimer out there by saying this above claim can vary based on what the patient presents with and based on the treating chiropractor. I always encourage people to find a chiropractor that is functional/evidence based and has strong manual therapy skills. Also, if you are seeing a physical therapist who is good at manual therapy I place them and chiropractors in the same tier for treating the neck/back. There is quite a bit of overlap in treatment between a physical therapist and a chiropractor now-a-days also. IMO I believe your average chiro is better at adjusting the spine/manual therapy, and your average PT is better at pre/post-surgery rehabilitation. Not to say that there aren’t providers in each profession that can do both well or even better than the other.
I will also make the claim that seeing a chiropractor for back/neck pain is a better first-line option than seeing an orthopedic surgeon or medical doctor in MOST instances. We all know using pain medication regularly can be detrimental to one’s health and may lead to an increase in the ever-growing opioid addiction problem we currently have. I’ve had multiple people text me saying that their back is killing them, and that they were going to go to the hospital because it was so severe. My follow-up question is usually “what do you think they’ll do?” My experience has been they’ll spend 10 mins with you (maybe), prescribe medication, and refer you to someone else. Can pain medication be an essential part of the process of healing, YES. Does everyone that has low back pain need pain medication, NO.
What if for less money you could have a chiropractor spend close to an hour with you, diagnose your problem, provide treatment to fix the diagnosis, give you rehabilitative exercises, educate you on the things to do/not to do, and provide pain relief naturally? To me that sounds like a no brainer. According to the highly regarded, research journal Spine, "Manual-thrust manipulation provides greater short-term reductions in self-reported disability and pain compared with usual medical care. 94% of the manual-thrust manipulation group achieved greater than 30% reduction in pain compared with 69% of usual medical care."
Having surgery comes with its own risk and should be considered a last option, not the first one. For instance, I tore my ACL in my knee and needed to have surgery to hope for a full recovery. This was a last-line option, and this is just one injury of many that does indeed require surgery. However, not all injuries require surgery to get better. Although the surgery went well, and my knee is now fully healed, there were several negative effects of having the surgery. It was expensive, I missed time from work, I had to rely on my girlfriend to help me, it created an increase in scar tissue, I lost part of my hamstring muscle (to replace the ACL), and it may even lead to an increased risk of developing osteoarthritis. Then there is also the risk of failed surgery… Going through all the negatives and all the risks and then it does little to nothing to change your function or pain! Or worsens! If you can avoid surgery, you should. One way to decrease the need for back surgery is to have a spine that is functioning properly. The best way to maintain a healthy spine can be done through chiropractic care, regular exercise, and a healthy diet.
The purpose of this blog was not to downplay the importance of other healthcare professionals, but just to help explain why I think chiropractors are a great place to start when you are suffering from back or neck pain. In some cases, I will refer patients out to see an orthopedic surgeon or to their primary for pain relief injections. I believe its important to get my patients to the right doctor at the right time.
If you or someone you know is suffering from back/neck pain and you have been searching for relief, my office would be a great place to start! Give us a call at 217-525-2035 and ask for Dr. Cody!