Are chiropractors worth it?
Is Seeing A Chiropractor More Risky Than It's Worth?
Q: I've heard neck adjustments might be linked with stroke. Should I quit my chiropractor?
A: Perhaps not. Chiropractic adjustments are low risk for patients without serious health problems. Stroke in association with neck manipulation is rare and primarily involves high-pressure, low-speed treatment. Older patients and anyone with a history of heart disease should request low-pressure, high-speed techniques that keep the head in a neutral position, like Activator, a method of adjusting using a spring-loaded handheld device. (Want to pick up some healthier habits? Sign up to get daily healthy living tips delivered straight to your inbox!)
Well-done chiropractic adjustments (seek referrals from people who have had a good experience with a particular practitioner) can relieve musculoskeletal discomfort and calm irritated nerves to help relieve back and neck pain. (Read more on what chiropractors can and can't help with.) Research suggests greater benefits for chronic pain, while in my own experience, chiropractic seems to work better for acute pain. Ultimately, it comes down to results: You should feel at least somewhat better within 1 to 2 weeks. Research does not support the regular use of spinal adjustments as a preventive measure, so don't pay in advance for long-term treatment. The routine use of X-rays to diagnose spinal misalignments is also controversial.
MORE: 6 Alternative Doctors You Should Consider Seeing
Simple preventive steps can eliminate recurring back pain that stems from improper body mechanics. Exercises that tone the back and help maintain proper posture are important, as is using proper technique when lifting heavy objects. Appropriate stretching and therapeutic yoga enhance flexibility, strengthen back muscles, and reduce muscle tension. Massage therapy, acupuncture, and the regular practice of stress management techniques, such as mindfulness meditation and biofeedback, help prevent and treat back pain. Dr. John Sarno, a physician and professor of rehabilitation medicine at New York University, and other experts believe that treatment should also be aimed at changing patterns of thinking, feeling, and handling stress, all of which may contribute to pain.
ANDREW WEIL, MD, is founder and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine and clinical professor of medicine at the University of Arizona.
Video: Ashland KY Chiropractor Dr Gary Dillon Talks Strokes and The Safety of Chiropractic
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