“The current study provides the strongest evidence to date that chiropractic care is safe, effective, and results in high levels of patient satisfaction and perceived treatment benefit, thus strengthening our knowledge regarding this conservative nondrug option for low back pain,” Christine M. Goertz, DC, PhD, a chiropractor with the Spine Institute for Quality in Iowa, told Healthline.
If the pain is due to muscle spasm or a pinched nerve, your provider may prescribe a muscle relaxant or a more powerful pain reliever. Over-the-counter medicines often work as well as prescription drugs. At times, your provider may give you steroids to reduce swelling. If there is nerve damage, your provider may refer you to a neurologist, neurosurgeon, or orthopedic surgeon for consultation.
Signs and symptoms of neck pain may be stiffness, tightness, aching, burning or stabbing or shooting pains, pressure, or tingling. Muscles can feel sore or tense in the neck, face, or shoulders. Muscles can spasm when they go into a state of extreme contraction (e.g., after whiplash). Movement may be restricted — perhaps you cannot turn your head. If nerves are involved, pain, tingling, numbness, or weakness may develop in your shoulders, arms or hands.
Some chiropractors believe that chiropractic care is the only treatment needed for any health problem. Others are committed to working with your pain management specialist as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. When looking for a chiropractor close by, it is important to decide which type of chiropractor is right for you and your pain condition. As we’ll discuss below, chiropractors will share on their website what they’re most focused on treating or what they have the most research experience with. They may also discuss their philosophies about care so you can find one that matches how you approach treating your pain.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Radiculopathy. A 2013 systematic review and meta-analysis found a statistically significant improvement in overall recovery from sciatica following SM, when compared to usual care, and suggested that SM may be considered. There is moderate quality evidence to support the use of SM for the treatment of acute lumbar radiculopathy and acute lumbar disc herniation with associated radiculopathy. There is low or very low evidence supporting SM for chronic lumbar spine-related extremity symptoms and cervical spine-related extremity symptoms of any duration and no evidence exists for the treatment of thoracic radiculopathy.
Whiplash and other neck pain. There is no consensus on the effectiveness of manual therapies for neck pain. A 2013 systematic review found that the data suggests that there are minimal short- and long-term treatment differences when comparing manipulation or mobilization of the cervical spine to physical therapy or exercise for neck pain improvement. A 2013 systematic review found that although there is insufficient evidence that thoracic SM is more effective than other treatments, it is a suitable intervention to treat some patients with non-specific neck pain. A 2011 systematic review found that thoracic SM may offer short-term improvement for the treatment of acute or subacute mechanical neck pain; although the body of literature is still weak. A 2010 Cochrane review found low quality evidence that suggests cervical manipulation may offer better short-term pain relief than a control for neck pain, and moderate evidence that cervical manipulation and mobilization produced similar effects on pain, function and patient satisfaction. A 2010 systematic review found low level evidence that suggests chiropractic care improves cervical range of motion and pain in the management of whiplash.
Extremity conditions. A 2011 systematic review and meta-analysis concluded that the addition of manual mobilizations to an exercise program for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis resulted in better pain relief than a supervised exercise program alone and suggested that manual therapists consider adding manual mobilisation to optimise supervised active exercise programs. There is silver level evidence that manual therapy is more effective than exercise for the treatment of hip osteoarthritis, however this evidence could be considered to be inconclusive. There is a small amount of research into the efficacy of chiropractic treatment for upper limbs, limited to low level evidence supporting chiropractic management of shoulder pain and limited or fair evidence supporting chiropractic management of leg conditions.
Chiropractic has seen considerable controversy and criticism. Although D.D. and B.J. were "straight" and disdained the use of instruments, some early chiropractors, whom B.J. scornfully called "mixers", advocated the use of instruments. In 1910, B.J. changed course and endorsed X-rays as necessary for diagnosis; this resulted in a significant exodus from the Palmer School of the more conservative faculty and students. The mixer camp grew until by 1924 B.J. estimated that only 3,000 of the U.S.'s 25,000 chiropractors remained straight. That year, B.J.'s invention and promotion of the neurocalometer, a temperature-sensing device, was highly controversial among B.J.'s fellow straights. By the 1930s, chiropractic was the largest alternative healing profession in the U.S.
To be completely honest, I was still a little nervous before my chiropractor performed the spinal manipulation. But I really had nothing to worry about. We discussed the potential side effects, which can include mild soreness (like you might feel after a workout). If you do feel sore, you can use a cold pack to help reduce any temporary soreness you might experience.