Should I see a chiropractor?

by Kevin Percuoco D.C., Cert. MDT, Clinic Instructor, Palmer Chiropractic Clinics

Chiropractic is a health-care profession that provides relief from pain without the use of drugs or surgery. Chiropractors are often known for performing spinal adjustments, a controlled force directed into the joints of the spine to restore motion, function, and pain control. Studies show that adjustments are as effective as traditional medication for relieving neck and back pain for most patients. These studies also show that people who receive chiropractic care are satisfied with care and would recommend chiropractic to friends or family.

Pain is what drives most people to seek chiropractic care. Pain is complex and, in many cases of neck or back pain, occurs without any tissue damage. Major advances in pain science have shifted the focus of pain management to view the patient as a whole – considering a person’s thoughts, emotions and experiences, instead of focusing solely on the tissues.

Humans are complex. Our emotions, beliefs, stressors, social support systems and behaviors have a direct influence in how our bodies experience and manifest pain. Some people with neck or back pain will have symptoms that are primarily driven by stress; others may have symptoms that are driven by negative thoughts or emotions related to their back; and some simply shoveled too much snow too quickly. When doctors understand that a patient’s lifestyle factors can equally contribute to physical symptoms, the possibilities for identifying a successful management program increase.

For example, a person suffering neck pain driven by stress may receive relief from an adjustment to the neck, but unless the incorporation of exercise, relaxation, or calming practices geared toward stress management are implemented, positive longer-term outcomes are less likely. The intervention needs to address what is causing the symptom.

Chiropractors sometimes hear people say that chiropractic care did not work for them, but what people often means is the adjustments they received did not support their desired outcomes. However, chiropractors across the world have varying approaches to delivery of care. At the Palmer Chiropractic Clinics, there are more than 20 clinicians with varying styles, techniques, and supportive care. This variety can be an advantage to different people with different types of pain.

During your appointment, a chiropractor will perform an evaluation and develop a management plan that almost always includes adjusting. However, an examination will also look at lifestyle factors and different drivers of pain in your life. Care may emphasize adjustments, exercise, muscle work or stretching. Depending on what is driving your pain, a care plan may also emphasize meditation, breathing or even journaling. This is and should always be patient specific, as no one person’s pain experience is the same.

Making the determination if seeing a chiropractor is right for you depends on your goals and expectations for relief and recovery, but keep in mind, deciphering what is driving your symptoms is paramount to implementing a successful recovery program that supports your goals.

The Palmer Chiropractic Clinics provide safe, effective, affordable chiropractic care to approximately 170,000 patients each year. Learn more or make an appointment at palmer.edu/clinics.