Spinal manipulation, also known as Chiropractic Manipulative Therapy, is an effective and efficient way to improve joint mechanics, reduce pain, improve mobility, and facilitate the acquisition of improved movements patterns when implemented strategically into treatment plans.
Yet the benefits of spinal manipulation, or chiropractic care in general, is still met with skepticism.
We are so far past establishing that there is evidence supporting spinal manipulation. Rather, we are moving in the direction of how to best establish the use of spinal manipulation in the management of specific musculoskeletal conditions and pain syndromes. The fact is that there are so many studies, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses done on spinal manipulation that a Medline search would be overwhelming to discuss.
The evidence is well summed up by a review of international low back pain guidelines. Over the last 10 years, 12 countries have done critical reviews of the scientific literature concerning low back pain. The international consensus is that the evidence supports chiropractic spinal manipulation as an effective tool in managing low back pain, and therefore is included in the recommendations.
However, the benefits of spinal manipulation do not begin and end with back pain. There are numerous benefits to spinal manipulation that make chiropractic care an invaluable addition to one’s health related or athletic pursuits. Below is just a short list.
- Joint pain relief - The most obvious benefit is relief of pain. Chiropractic manipulative therapy (CMT) can almost instantly relieve pain experienced in the low back, mid-back, neck, and extremities and has demonstrated this in research.
- Disc Bulge/Sciatica - The European Spine Journal published the findings from a clinical trial with chiropractic manipulative therapy showing 72% success rate in treating sciatica and associated symptoms. Disc bulges respond favorably to spinal manipulation techniques which focus on resorting joint mechanics and unloading the intervertebral discs.
- Headaches (tension and migraine) – There are hundreds of peer reviewed research articles demonstrating the ability spinal manipulation to prevent and ease the burden of headaches and migraines.
- Blood Pressure - In 2007, a team of researchers published a study in the Human Journal of Hypertension demonstrating that one upper cervical chiropractic adjustment had the same effect as two blood pressure-lowering drugs. Those effects were not simply short-term, they lasted more than six months.
- Surgery Prevention - The Journal of the American Medical Association recently published its low back pain guidelines and suggested that people suffering from back pain first try chiropractic before resorting to surgery. When appropriate, a growing number of physicians and specialists are recommending patients pursue conservative management of musculoskeletal conditions and pain syndromes before surgical intervention. The majority of these patients avoid surgery as they respond extremely well to conservative management via chiropractic care, physical therapy, or a combination.
- Athletic Performance - There is a reason why countless professional and Olympic athletes receive regular chiropractic care. The physiologic and neurologic benefit of spinal manipulation is super charged when used in a comprehensive care plan to address pain and dysfunction. Simply stated, muscles just work better when proper joint motion is restored via manipulative therapy. Athletes thrive on proprioception and motor responses from sensory input. Proprioception and motor response all improve from spinal manipulation. Coupled with exercises to facilitate motor skill acquisition, the short-term responses from spinal manipulation eventually become long-term improvements in movement quality and efficiency.
Based on my knowledge and experience as a sports performance and rehabilitation chiropractor, I’ve seen some surprising improvements with pain, joint proprioception and overall movement quality due to chiropractic spinal manipulation. When appropriately indicated, I regularly use spinal manipulation for reducing joint pain, improving joint mechanics, reducing muscle tension, and improving movement.
As stated above, spinal manipulation is a power tool that can be used within a comprehensive treatment plan. These treatment plans often utilize a variety of approaches that emphasize soft tissue work, guided exercises to improve stabilization and movement patterns, and patient education. These combined approaches serve as a “gold standard” for successful management and treatment of a number of musculoskeletal conditions.
To learn more about chiropractic and how it can be a benefit to your health or athletic goals, please contact our office at (724) 519-2833.
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