Common Conditions Treated Conservatively

Chiropractic is a health care profession that focuses on disorders of the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system, and the effects of these disorders on general health. Chiropractic care is used most often to conservatively treat neuromusculoskeletal complaints, including but not limited to back pain, neck pain, pain in the joints of the arms or legs, and headaches. The following is a list and description of the most common conditions treated by chiropractors;

Low Back Pain

Low back pain (sometimes referred to generally as lumbago) is a common symptom of musculoskeletal disorders or of disorders involving the lumbar vertebrae and related soft tissue structures such as muscles, ligaments, nerves and intervertebral discs. It can be either acute, subacute or chronic in its clinical presentation. Most often, the symptoms of low back pain show significant improvement within a few days to a few weeks from onset. In a significant number of individuals, low back pain can be recurrent in nature with a waxing and waning quality to it. In a small proportion of individuals this condition can become chronic. Population studies show that back pain affects most adults at some stage in their life and accounts for more sick leave and disability than any other single medical condition. ["Lower Back Pain Fact Sheet. nih.gov". Retrieved 2008-06-16.]

An acute lower back injury may be caused by a traumatic event, like a car accident or a fall. It occurs suddenly and its victims will usually be able to pinpoint exactly when it happened. In acute cases, the structures damaged will more than likely be soft tissue. With a serious accident, osteoporosis or other causes of weakened vertebral bones, vertebral fractures in the lumbar spine may also occur. At the lowest end of the spine, some patients may have tailbone pain (also called coccyx pain or coccydynia). Others may have pain from their sacroiliac joint at the bottom of the lumbar spine, called sacroiliac joint dysfunction. Chronic lower back pain usually has a more insidious onset, occurring over a long period of time. Physical causes may include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, degeneration of the discs between the vertebrae, or a spinal disc herniation, a vertebral fracture (such as from osteoporosis), or rarely, a tumor (including cancer) or infection.

The bottom line is that your pain has to be assessed by someone who is qualified to determine what tissue(s) is (are) causing your pain and provide you with options for treating the pain.

Neck Pain

Neck pain (or cervicalgia) is a common problem, with two-thirds of the population having neck pain at some point in their lives.["Cervical spondylosis and neck pain". BMJ 334 (7592): 527–31.]

Neck pain, although felt in the neck, can be caused by numerous other spinal issues. Neck pain may arise due to muscular tightness in both the neck and upper back, or pinching of the nerves eminating from the cervical vertebrae. Joint disruption in the neck creates pain, as does joint disruption in the upper back.

The head is supported by the lower neck and upper back, and it is these areas that commonly cause neck pain. The top three joints in the neck allow for most movement of your neck and head. The lower joints in the neck and those of the upper back create a supportive structure for your head to sit on. If this support system is affected adversly, then the muscles in the area will tighten, leading to neck pain.

Neck pain may also arise from many other physical and emotional health issues.

The bottom line is that your neck pain has to be assessed by someone who is qualified to determine what tissue(s) is (are) causing your pain and provide you with options for treating the pain.

Headaches

In medicine a headache or cephalalgia is a symptom of a number of different conditions of the head and sometimes neck. Some of the causes are benign while others are medical emergencies. It ranks among the most common pain complaints.


There are a number of different classification systems for headaches. The most well-recognized system is that of the International Headache Society.

Treatment of a headache depends on the underlying etiology or cause, but commonly involves analgesics, stress relief, exercises and more.

Chiropractic treatment has been shown to be effective for what are called cervicogenic-type headaches (meaning headaches generated from the neck or cervical spine).This type of headache is commonly reproducible with movements of the neck, direct pressure to a particular joint in the neck, or a combination
of the above.

Sciatica

Sciatica (or sciatic neuritis)[1] is a set of symptoms including pain that may be caused by general compression and/or irritation of one of five nerve roots that give rise to the sciatic nerve, or by compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve itself. The pain is felt in the lower back, buttock, and/or various parts of the leg and foot. In addition to pain, which is sometimes severe, there may be numbness, muscular weakness, pins and needles or tingling and difficulty in moving or controlling the leg. Typically, the symptoms are only felt on one side of the body.

Only a trained medical professional will be able to discover what is causing your sciatic pain.

Myofascial Pain Syndrome & Trigger Points

Trigger points are described as hyperirritable spots in skeletal muscle that are associated with palpable nodules in taut bands of muscle fibers. Trigger point researchers believe that palpable nodules are small contraction knots and a common cause of pain. Compression of a trigger point may elicit local tenderness, referred pain, or local twitch response. The local twitch response is not the same as a muscle spasm. This is because a muscle spasm refers to the entire muscle entirely contracting whereas the local twitch response also refers to the entire muscle but only involves a small twitch, no contraction.

Although trigger points do appear to be an observable phenomenon with defined properties, there is a lack of a consistent methodology for diagnosing trigger points and a dearth of theory explaining how trigger points arise and why they produce specific referred pain patterns.
["Variability of criteria used to diagnose myofascial trigger point pain syndrome--evidence from
a review of the literature". Clin J Pain 23 (3): 278-86.]

Degenerative Joint Disease

Although there is no evidence that chiropractic care can reverse the joint degeneration that causes OA, some studies indicate that spinal manipulation may:
-Increase range of motion
-Restore normal movement of the spine
-Relax the muscles
-Improve joint coordination
-Reduce pain

In fact, a comprehensive review of the scientific literature suggests that chiropractic, especially when combined with glucosamine supplements and rehabilitative stretches and exercise, is an effective supplemental treatment for OA. However, it should be noted that research has shown the use of glucosamine supplements has since been shown to generally have little or no effect on degenerative joint disease for most patients since this article was written.

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