A Chiropractor is a highly trained and skilled primary healthcare practitioner who conservatively manages musculoskeletal disorders in a multimodal and evidence-based paradigm. It is important to note that Chiropractic is not a technique, but a profession in which several types of clinical techniques are utilised to conservatively manage musculoskeletal disorders. A Chiropractor uses history taking, physical and functional testing and orthopaedic and neurological testing to diagnose musculoskeletal disorders. Here are 7 good reasons to visit a Chiropractor based on the evidence in the scientific literature:
1. Enhance sports performance and reduce injury rates
Chiropractic evidence-based practice combined with best medical practice in sports science management has a positive impact in reducing sporting injuries, such as hamstring strains, in athletic populations. Strengthening and eccentrically loading the hamstrings, coupled with specific stretching techniques, soft tissue massage, and improving the mobility and biomechanics of the low back, hips and knees can all help to reduce pain and disability in acute hamstring strains. Furthermore, Chiropractors can provide athletes with management strategies to reduce their rate of re-injury.
2. Reduce headache intensity and frequency
Global prevalence rates suggest that approximately 50% of adults experience at least one symptomatic headache each year. Primary headaches include migraine, tension-type and cluster headaches. A 2011 systematic review of 21 controlled clinical trials concluded that spinal manipulative therapy and multidisciplinary interventions including massage are recommended for management of patients with episodic or chronic migraine. For cervicogenic headache (i.e., headaches due to dysfunction in the cervical spine), spinal manipulation, joint mobilisation or deep neck flexor exercises are recommended. However, conservative management does not seem to be as effective for tension-type headaches when compared to migraines and cervicogenic headaches. Furthermore, adverse events across the included clinical trials was very low, making conservative management an effective and safe option.
It is important to note that chiropractic practice is far broader than spinal manipulation alone, typically including other evidenced-based interventions such soft tissue therapy, physical therapy (i.e., strengthening and conditioning), stretching exercises, mobilisations, taping and advice on preventative measures for musculoskeletal disorders.
3. Reduce self-reported low back pain intensity
Low back pain is an extremely common problem that most people experience at some point in their life. The management of back pain is very much dependant on the individual’s presenting condition, which can even change for the same patient from visit to visit.
A review of the evidence for an American Pain Society/American College of Physicians clinical practice guideline found that spinal manipulation and massage in addition to medical care were the most effective interventions for lower back pain. A more recent 2010 Cochrane meta-analysis suggested that there is moderate evidence that exercise in combination with massage and education is effective at managing and preventing recurrences of back pain. Current research is aiming to identify potential responder and nonresponder subgroups under the generic label of nonspecific, or mechanical, low back pain.
4. Reduce self-reported neck pain intensity
Neck pain is a multifactorial and complex musculoskeletal disorder with significant individual and societal burden. 27% of patients seeking chiropractic treatment report neck problems. Therefore, treatment of neck pain is an integral part of chiropractic practice.
A 2014 systematic review of 41 randomised controlled trials made strong recommendations for the treatment of chronic neck pain with spinal manipulation, manual therapy, and exercise in combination with other modalities. Strong recommendations were also made for the treatment of chronic neck pain with stretching, strengthening, and endurance exercises alone. In acute neck pain, moderate recommendations were made for manipulation and mobilisation in combination with other modalities.
5. Reduce burden on healthcare system
The successes of medical science and technologies, an informed public of these successes, and an ageing population with increased rates of chronic disease and need for long term care are factors creating the significant burden on the healthcare system we are observing today. Current estimates for expenditure predict a rapid increase in healthcare costs as a proportion of the GPD of developed nations; although, a global economic crisis has necessitated dramatic cuts in health budgets. This unsustainable position has led to calls for an urgent transformation in healthcare systems.
The example of obesity and the need for disease prevention has been used frequently to demonstrate how lost opportunities in prevention result in measurable health costs and excess healthcare resource consumption. Early prevention in this circumstance can be as simple as dietary changes and regular exercise. Chiropractors are trained to develop specific exercise programs and could potentially reduce the reliance of medical services in this cohort and effectively manage musculoskeletal disorders associated with obesity. Furthermore, a 2015 systematic review of 25 studies on chiropractic and medical utilisation found that healthcare costs were generally lower among patients whose spine pain was managed with chiropractic care. This has the potential to greatly reduce the socioeconomic burden on the healthcare system.
6. Multidisciplinary conservative management
Musculoskeletal disorders like neck and low back pain are multifactorial and at times complicated biopsychosocial disorders. To account for the complexity of these disorders, multidisciplinary care is often more effective than single interventions alone. A Chiropractor uses a conservative management approach with a focus on injury rehabilitation and prevention in a multimodal context. Multidisciplinary approach is one that draws upon several diverse clinical techniques to tailor rehabilitation programs for a specific condition.
7. Preventative measures for musculoskeletal disorders
Sometimes preventing common musculoskeletal injuries is beyond our control, but many times they are preventable. This is particularly true for disorders caused by sedentary lifestyles and repetitive or static working conditions, such as neck and back pain in office workers. In these circumstances, preventing these injuries will reduce the likelihood of disorders becoming chronic and disabling. Furthermore, some injuries we bring on ourselves because we are not conditioned for the activity. This is particularly true in sporting populations. Therefore, strength and condition of underactive muscles and ensuring good mobility of joints will also help to reduce injuries from ensuing or progressing. Chiropractors are trained to identify these issues and resolve them through conservative measures.