Chiropractic care is an alternative medicine. This form of alternative is based on chiropractic adjustments — manual manipulations of the spinal joint. These adjustments can potentially reduce back and neck pain while improving their range of motion. The primary focus of chiropractic treatment stems addresses the musculoskeletal system by using spinal manipulation.
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Spinal manipulation should improve the function of the nervous system and lead to health benefits that include pain relief and an overall improved quality of life. Despite its ability to provide relief, chiropractic care’s legitimacy is unclear.
While many scholars attest to the efficacy of regular chiropractic care, few large-scale studies have been conducted to solidify its legitimacy. In this article, we’re examining these studies to shed some light on the legitimacy of chiropractic care. We will look at the primary criticisms scientists have against it and the mounting scientific evidence supporting its claims.
Studies Supporting Chiropractic Care
The primary criticism against the evidence for chiropractic care comes from the lack of large-scale studies performed. Scientists have performed numerous studies but none have been large enough to provide conclusive evidence. Many studies have been small and thus produced insubstantial evidence. The lack of substantial evidence reveals the need for larger, more specific testing.
One of the most reliable studies produced on chiropractic care performed in 2018 found that it was more effective than traditional medical care for back pain. It included 750 patients and found those who received chiropractic treatment had better physical function than those who received routine care.
In another study published by the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, chiropractic care was more effective at reducing neck pain and improving neck function. The study, which had over 180 patients, determined chiropractic care patients had greater improvements in neck pain than those who received medication or physical therapy.
Studies Refuting The Efficacy Of Chiropractic Care
Though these studies yielded positive findings, there is still some uncertainty surrounding the efficacy of chiropractic care. Critics often cite that this type of care can cause patients harm, especially when chiropractors administer adjustments to the neck.
Rare severe side effects have been reported concerning chiropractic adjustments to the neck. The most commonly reported severe side effect is stroke. Serious complications are rare. A 2016 review published in Spine, found the risk of stroke as a result of cervical manipulation was extremely unlikely.
Chiropractors are also trained to screen for risk factors that make certain techniques unsafe for particular patients. Another commonly held criticism of chiropractors is the belief they make claims unsupported by scientific research.
For example, some chiropractors might claim that it can boost the immune system and even treat conditions such as ADHD or asthma. No scientific evidence supports these claims but the majority of the chiropractic field does not posit the efficacy of chiropractic care in treating these conditions.
The Bottom Line
Most scientists agree chiropractic care is a legitimate treatment for various conditions, such as lower back and neck pain. Many studies have produced mixed results but there is a growing body of evidence that supports the efficacy of this type of care. There are still some concerns regarding the safety of chiropractic care. But serious complications are virtually non-existent and licensed chiropractors will check for risk factors before administering treatment.
Before you commit to anything, research to determine whether it is right for you. You can find a licensed and trained chiropractor who you feel comfortable discussing your treatment plan with. Whether using a chiropractor for athletic performance or chronic pain, it’s likely an appropriate treatment for neck and back pain as well as other musculoskeletal issues.