Chronic Back Pain and Chiropractic Care
Chronic back pain can be a source of stress and anxiety. Stress and anxiety have a negative effect on all body systems. Spinal manipulation can effectively treat and manage chronic back pain according to The Journal of the American Medical Association. Reducing chronic pain can help reduce stress.
Stress and The Body
Stress causes muscles to tense up. Chronic stress caused by things like back pain can keep the muscles in a constant state of tension. Chiropractic treatment can ease muscle tension associated with back pain. A chiropractor can also refer to a massage therapist to increase relaxation and stress relief. Massage reduces the production of stress hormones and promotes a state of relaxation.
Chronic pain also leads to poor posture. Poor posture affects the spine. When the spine is out of alignment the nervous system doesn’t work properly. Unnecessary strain and tension on the musculoskeletal system further stresses the body. The spine is the main system of communication between the brain and the rest of the body. Chiropractors are trained to bring the spine back into alignment, which restores nervous system function.
Stress and The Nervous System
The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) plays a major role in the body’s physical response to stress. It activates the “fight or flight” response which shifts all of the body’s energy toward fighting and fleeing a life threatening enemy. The adrenal glands release hormones called adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones increase heart rate and respiration, and blood vessels dilate. Once the response is over, the body usually returns to its original state. However, chronic stress can result in a long-term drain on the body.
Chronic stress, experiencing stressors over a prolonged period of time, can result in a long-term drain on the body. As the SNS continues to trigger physical reactions, it causes a wear-and-tear on the body. It’s not so much what chronic stress does to the nervous system, but what continuous activation of the nervous system does to other bodily systems that become problematic.
Chiropractic Care and Chronic Back Pain
Spinal manipulation can effectively treat and manage chronic back pain according to The Journal of the American Medical Association. Treating back pain can help reduce stress.
Here is some evidence based research from the US National Library of Medicine:
The report was commissioned by the UK General Chiropractic Council in response to media concerns about scope of practice and claims of effectiveness in advertising.
The report summarized the scientific evidence regarding the effectiveness of manual treatment as a therapeutic option of the management of 26 musculoskeletal and non musculoskeletal conditions.
According to the UK General Chiropractic Council, Spinal manipulation is an effective care option for acute, subacute, and chronic low back pain. Massage was also found to be effective for chronic low back pain. These findings were based, in part, on the clinical practice guidelines developed for the American Pain Society. The American College of Physicians recommended these treatments in addition to medical care.
- Neck Pain – Spinal manipulation was found to be effective for acute and subacute neck pain. Effectiveness was also found for acute whiplash when spinal manipulation is combined with exercise. Spinal manipulation was shown to be effective for chronic neck pain when combined with exercise.
- Mid Back Pain – The evidence to date is inconclusive in a favorable direction for the use of thoracic spinal manipulation for mid back pain. This is because there has been only 1 small placebo-controlled trial to date. On the other hand, thoracic spinal manipulation has been shown to be efficacious for the care of neck pain. The trends in the data thus suggest spinal manipulation for mid back pain is a promising therapy requiring further trials.
- Headaches – Spinal manipulation is an effective option for migraine and cervicogenic headaches. The evidence was found inconclusive for tension-type headaches
- Extremity Conditions – Manipulation of extremity joints is used for a variety of conditions. Effectiveness was found for shoulder girdle pain, adhesive capsulitis, lateral epicondylitis, hip and knee osteoarthritis, patellofemoral pain syndrome, and plantar fasciitis.
- Non-musculoskeletal Conditions – There was positive evidence for spinal manipulation for only 1 non-musculoskeletal condition, cervicogenic dizziness.
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Written by: Holly Cook
Photo Credit: Sam Burriss @ Unsplash