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Conditions Commonly Treated by Chiropractors

Conditions Commonly Treated by Chiropractors


Chiropractic treatment addresses damage, disorder, and misalignment of the joints, particularly along the spine. Chiropractic therapy can treat a wide variety of conditions, since it can correct both localized joint issues and your general posture, which can influence your overall well-being, especially your nervous system.

Given their emphasis on holistic health, many chiropractors also assist patients with improving their nutrition, activity, bodily function, and other lifestyle concerns.

Back Problems

Approximately 35 percent, or more than one-third, of the 22 million Americans who undergo chiropractic treatment do so to treat back problems. Patients may seek treatment from chiropractors for general discomfort, postural issues, localized pain, or more complex conditions such as fibromyalgia, a chronic musculoskeletal issue. To treat back problems, your practitioner will typically begin by performing a physical examination to diagnose your condition. He or she will then use this information to create a customized treatment plan, which could include:

  • Mobilization therapy: By gently extending and shifting the joints and muscles, your practitioner can help you improve your mobility and comfort in the short- and long-term.
  • Roller or traction table treatment: This piece of equipment can massage the lower, middle, and upper back regions to reduce tightness and help release the muscles.
  • Adjustment: During this procedure, your chiropractor will use a special device to apply slight pressure to your vertebrae and move them into proper position.
  • Ultrasound therapy: Your practitioner can use ultrasonic waves to diminish swelling and release your joints.
  • Cold laser treatment: Your chiropractor may use a handheld device to emit "cold," lower energy level waves through your tissue to stimulate regeneration, repair cells, and assist with uncomfortable symptoms.
  • Diathermy: Applying electromagnetic heat to your treatment area could help release your muscle and joint tension, thereby alleviating your symptoms.
  • TENS: Your chiropractor can guide you in placing electrodes on your skin and passing energy through them to diminish the transmission of pain signals along your back while encouraging healing and reducing inflammation.
  • Hydrotherapy: Soaking your joints in pools or wearing moist compresses can help reduce your back pain.
  • Lifestyle recommendations: Your chiropractor may recommend investing in more ergonomic furniture, getting more exercise, or taking certain supplements to help ease your back pain.

Chiropractic treatment could serve as a component of physical therapy for back problems or a standalone treatment.


An illustration of the different types of arthritis

Millions of people suffer from arthritis, a condition that causes uncomfortable joint swelling. Aching, inflamed joints can limit your range of motion and make daily activities more difficult. Rheumatoid arthritis results from an immune system disorder, while osteoarthritis is the result of tissue degeneration due to aging, hormonal issues, or vitamin deficiencies. Chiropractors can help treat both types of arthritis by manipulating the joints and working to restore patients' mobility.

Your practitioner may use the following chiropractic techniques to assist you with arthritis symptoms:

  • Joint manipulation exercises: Stretching your tissue can help improve your mobility and reduce inflammation.
  • Trigger point therapy: Massaging or using chiropractic devices to adjust arthritic joints can provide temporary pain relief.
  • Cold laser therapy: Applying lower level wavelengths of light to the affected joints may diminish swelling.
  • Ultrasound treatment: This can help relieve the stiffness and tightness that often accompanies arthritis.
  • Lifestyle changes: Your chiropractor may recommend relaxation techniques, such as meditation or yoga, to help you manage the symptoms of arthritis. He or she may also suggest vitamins and supplements such as nettle leaf, omega 3 fatty acids, turmeric, and ginger.
  • Orthopedic devices: Special pillows, braces, or other tools can help make daily activities such as sitting or walking easier for patients with arthritis.

If you have arthritis, ask your general practitioner if chiropractic therapy may be an appropriate complementary or alternative treatment for you.


Approximately three-quarters of all headaches are tension headaches, also called stress headaches. These create a dull soreness around the temples and behind the eyes on one side or both. Tension headaches can cause discomfort from your lower jaw to the top of your head. These and other tension headache symptoms often result from excessively tight neck and upper back muscles, which may lock or spasm. Suffering from misaligned posture or holding your neck and back in a fixed position (for example, at a desk at work) can exacerbate or bring about tension headaches.

If you suffer from tension headaches, your chiropractor can help by identifying trigger points in your neck muscles.

Trigger points may include the Suboccipitals, the Splenius muscles, the Trapezius, and the Sternocleidomastoid. Specific muscles are often correlated to particular headache symptoms-for example, trigger points in the Trapezius, an upper and mid back muscle, can lead to jaw soreness. Once he or she has diagnosed the muscular source of your headaches, your chiropractor will work to realign your muscles, diminish inflammation, and loosen your tissue to alleviate uncomfortable symptoms.

Common chiropractic techniques for tension headache relief include:

  • Performing adjustments to put your muscles in proper position and apply gentle pressure to your trigger points in order to relieve tension.
  • Helping you improve your posture during work and other activities.
  • Making nutritional recommendations. For example, avoiding sodium nitrite and MSG (monosodium glutamate) may help alleviate your symptoms.
  • Prescribing certain ergonomic tools to help you remain more comfortable and avoid muscular headache triggers.

Your chiropractor will create a customized treatment plan to address your tension headaches. He or she may also collaborate with your general physician, nutritionist, and any other relevant medical professionals to help you.

Neck Pain

An illustration of trigger points and referring pain

Your neck is one of your most important yet delicate body parts. It consists of seven small vertebrae, which chiropractors refer to as the "cervical spine." Remaining in a fixed position, having abnormal posture, the aging process, accidents, and injuries can damage the cervical spine and cause uncomfortable aching, tightness, and immobility. Your chiropractor can adjust your cervical spine and surrounding joints to help restore your neck and spinal health while relieving unpleasant symptoms.

Chiropractic care for neck pain can include:

  • Cervical adjustment and manipulation. There are several techniques your practitioner can use. Cervical mobilization involves massage back, forth, around, and across the neck to gently expand the neck's range of motion. Using another method, cervical manual traction, your chiropractor will stretch your neck muscles forward and backward while you lie on an adjustment table. Your chiropractor may also perform a cervical "drop," resting your neck on its side on the adjustment table and applying precise motion to remove the top section of the table so that your head drops and your cervical spine releases. Most chiropractors use a combination of these adjustment methods according to patients' unique needs and preferences.
  • Trigger point therapy. As with tension headaches, your chiropractor may find and modify specific trigger points in your neck tissues.
  • Electrical stimulation. Your chiropractor may pass low-frequency electrical energy through your neck joints to diminish inflammation and tightness.
  • Ultrasound therapy. Transmitting ultrasonic waves through your neck muscles and joints can help to loosen them.
  • Soft tissue massage. This technique can temporarily or permanently relieve neck tension.
  • Physical therapy exercises. Your chiropractor may recommend regular exercises to help stretch and release your neck, especially if your job requires you to sit in a fixed position for many hours each day.
  • Lifestyle changes. Some chiropractors suggest using orthopedic devices such as neck pillows to alleviate pain. Your practitioner may also recommend nutritional changes or prescribe certain supplements.

Your chiropractor will tailor your neck pain treatment plan to suit your needs, wishes, and budget.

Musculoskeletal Conditions

Chiropractic therapy adjusts the body's joints and overall alignment to help correct a variety of musculoskeletal conditions. Your chiropractor may be able to assist you if you suffer from any of the following:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Epicondylitis
  • Tendinitis
  • Sprains
  • Strains
  • Fractures
  • Ligament injuries
  • Myelopathy
  • Whiplash
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
  • Stroke
  • Dislocation
  • Frozen joints
  • Muscle, joint, or ligament tears and pulls
  • Herniated discs
  • Scoliosis
  • Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS)
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Ruptured discs or tendons
  • Scurvy
  • Shin splins
  • Chronic discomfort
  • Cumulative injury (musculoskeletal disorders that result from repetitive movements or overuse)

Your practitioner can help diagnose your disorder by taking x-rays, palpating (feeling) your tissues, and discussing your symptoms. Depending on the severity and type of your musculoskeletal condition, your chiropractor will design an individualized treatment plan. This program may be used alone or in conjunction with surgery, orthopedic therapy, or other procedures to rehabilitate your musculoskeletal function.

Traumatic Injuries

Many patients turn to chiropractic as a gentle, effective therapy to help rehabilitate them after traumatic injuries. Chiropractors can treat patients who have endured:

  • Automobile, motorcycle, and truck accidents
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Bicycle accidents
  • Pedestrian injuries
  • "Slip and fall" accidents

If you suffer from an occupational injury, workers' compensation may help cover your chiropractic costs as you recover.

Find how you can cover the costs of chiropractic care with Compassionate Finance

Chiropractors can assist patients with all types of traumatic injuries, including milder cases such as whiplash or concussion and more severe accident-related disabilities. Of course, chiropractic therapy cannot serve as a substitute for emergency medical care or necessary surgery, but it can help patients recover, restore their abilities, and alleviate their uncomfortable symptoms.

Chiropractors can address the chronic discomfort, limited range of motion, and structural misalignment that often result from traumatic injuries. In addition, since many of your nerves are located in your spinal column, improving your posture can help enhance your overall wellbeing. Your practitioner may use TENS, ultrasound therapy, adjustment, massage, manipulation, trigger point therapy, and exercises to help your body feel and function better.

Non-musculoskeletal Conditions

Improving your spinal health and posture can affect every aspect of your wellbeing.

Many patients associate chiropractic therapy with musculoskeletal treatment alone, but this technique can also assist patients with non-musculoskeletal conditions. In addition, many chiropractors take a holistic approach to care and help patients with their nutrition, exercise, activity, relaxation, and other components of health.

According to a report on Swedish chiropractic patients in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 23 percent of patients who initially began chiropractic treatment for musculoskeletal disorders noticed non-musculoskeletal benefits, which most often manifested as improved respiratory and digestive function. Subjects also reported improvements in vision and circulation.

A 2007 article in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine reported that chiropractic therapy could help patients who suffer from asthma, vertigo, infantile colic, otitis media (a type of ear infection), and pneumonia.

Speak with your practitioner to learn more about how chiropractic treatment can improve your non-musculoskeletal health and what you can do to enhance the efficacy of your treatment.

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