For many people, chronic pain greatly affects their day-to-day life. Pain medication prescriptions are one way to manage chronic pain, but the potential for abuse makes many doctors and patients hesitant.
Chiropractic care is another treatment option for chronic pain. Chiropractic care and adjustments can be tailored to target chronic joint pain, back pain, neck pain, and nerve pain. Read on to learn more about a chiropractor’s approach to managing and treating chronic pain.
Reach out to Infinite Wellness Integrative Medical Center today to book an appointment with a pain specialist!
What Is Chronic Pain?
Medical professionals define chronic pain as any general or localized pain that persists for more than three months. Chronic pain is often episodic, and patients go through periods with less and more pain. Depending on the severity, chronic pain can greatly impact one’s ability to work or perform daily tasks.
Chronic pain can be distinguished from acute pain, which is sharp, immediate pain that does not subsist. Many patients describe chronic pain as a perpetual and dull throbbing in and around the affected areas.
What Causes Chronic Pain?
Pain is a complex biological process and has several causes. Chronic pain is often a result of past musculoskeletal system injury or a medical condition, such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, or multiple sclerosis. Medical professionals have identified several risk factors associated with chronic pain, such as:
- Traumatic injury
- Improper posture
- Congenital disorders
- Frequently lifting heavy objects
- Poor sleep quality
- Spinal degeneration
In some cases, chronic pain might not have any obvious physical etiology and may have a somatic or psychological component. The difficulty in nailing down a primary cause is one reason why doctors and healthcare professionals take several different approaches to pain management.
Chiropractic Care for Chronic Pain
The main chiropractic method for treating chronic pain is spinal manipulation and realignment. Chiropractors will physically manipulate the spine to realign vertebrae and take pressure off the central spinal column. Here are some common chiropractic techniques:
- Spinal Manipulation or Adjustment: This is the most well-known chiropractic technique. It involves the application of controlled force to the spine to improve range of motion, reduce nerve irritability, and improve function. It’s often used for lower back pain.
- Mobilization: This involves low-velocity manipulations, stretching, and movement of the muscles and joints, aiming to increase the range of motion within those areas.
- Flexion-Distraction Technique: Also known as Cox Technic, this is a gentle, non-force spinal manipulation aimed at adjusting the spine and improving overall spinal motion. It’s often used for conditions like herniated discs or sciatica.
- Activator Method: This uses a small, hand-held device called an Activator to deliver a gentle impulse force to the spine with the goal of restoring motion to the targeted spinal vertebra or joint.
- Graston Technique: This involves using stainless steel instruments to gently scrape and massage the skin. It’s used to reduce pain and improve function in patients with soft tissue injuries.
- Trigger Point Therapy: This method involves applying pressure to specific tender muscle tissue to reduce pain in the muscle and improve functioning.
- Myofascial Release: This technique focuses on releasing muscular shortness and tightness. It’s useful for patients with conditions such as Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ) or chronic back pain.
- Spinal Decompression: A form of traction therapy applied to the spine in an attempt to bring about several theoretical benefits including the creation of a negative intradiscal pressure to promote retraction or repositioning of the herniated or bulging disc material.
- Sacro-Occipital Technique (SOT): This method focuses on the relationship between the sacrum (base of the spine) and the occiput (base of the skull), aiming to normalize the relationship between these two parts of the body to treat chronic pain.
Benefits of Chiropractic Care for Pain Management
Several studies have shown that chiropractic adjustment can have a positive effect on certain types of chronic pain. For example, this study in The Spine Journal found that adjustive techniques can significantly decrease self-reported levels after six months of treatment compared to no chiropractic manipulation.
Additionally, some analyses have found that chiropractor sessions can improve migraine symptoms and reduce the incidence of headaches and pain in the side of the neck and face. Similarly, studies show that chiropractic care is at least as effective as traditional pain medication for reducing short-term and chronic neck pain.
The main goal of chiropractic care for pain management is to reduce chronic and acute pain. However, chiropractic care has several additional benefits.
Very often, chronic pain can restrict your range of motion and your body’s functionality. For example, lower back pain can affect your ability to move around your house and lift small objects without pain. By reducing pain, a chiropractor can restore functionality and increase range of motion in affected limbs.
A common side effect of chronic pain is insomnia or poor sleep quality. If the pain is in your back or shoulders, it can be difficult to get a good night’s sleep due to discomfort. Pain reduction can help you fall and stay asleep throughout the night. Better sleep quality can make you more focused and improve your mood.
If you are an athlete, chronic back pain can affect sports performance. For example, a study from the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found that cervical manipulations can improve grip strength and performance in athletes.
Chiropractic Care in Edwardsville
Contact Infinite Wellness Integrative Medical Center online or call today at (618) 747-3200 to request an appointment with a chiropractor!