23 Studies That Prove Chiropractic Works

By Dr. Brent Wells, DC

Most people are not well-informed about chiropractors. According to one Gallup Report, approximately half of the adults in the United States have not seen a doctor of chiropractic. These people are uncertain about the effectiveness, cost, and matters of chiropractic care.

As a result, a common question regarding this type of treatment is “How Does Chiropractic Work?”

Chiropractic care uses many different forms of natural, drug-free treatment options, but the most common is called spinal manipulation. When the joints of the spine are misaligned, it can cause issues throughout the body, causing issues like chronic pain, headaches, stiffness, poor sleep, low energy, and many others. Chiropractic is the use of these different modalities to promote proper alignment of the spine and the rest of the body.

Does chiropractic really work?

Yes! Chiropractic care is a powerful method of care that brings healing to the body through the care of the joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and bones. Many of the tenets of chiropractic have been practiced for hundreds of years while others are still being developed. As a result, there are both old and new studies that are evidence of chiropractic’s efficacy in treating many different issues and promoting numerous health benefits.

Read on to discover 23 proofs that chiropractic works.

Proof #1: Chiropractic relieves back pain.

Since chiropractic care focuses on spinal health and the relief of many different kinds of back pain, it’s no surprise to learn that there’s a growing body of evidence supporting this one. Studies show that overall patient satisfaction is greater among chiropractic patients and that the treatment options offered by chiropractors were more effective than other options for treating low back pain.

Proof #2: It relieves neck pain.

Neck pain is another common reason to visit a chiropractor, and evidence shows that the type of care offered by chiropractors is safe and effective. One study showed a marked improvement from chiropractic care for those experiencing non-traumatic chronic neck pain.

Proof #3: It relieves muscle tension.

Chiropractors use massage to help relieve muscle tension with great effectiveness. Chiropractic massage is different from standard massage therapy in several ways. Perhaps the most important is the number of schooling chiropractors receive. Chiropractic massage is often used in conjunction with other chiropractic modalities, such as spinal and joint manipulation, to help relieve what may be causing the muscle tension in the first place.

Proof #4: It treats headaches.

Headaches are believed to be caused by a wide variety of factors, including diet, alcohol, stress, lack of sleep, hormones, and even genes. While chiropractic care hasn’t proven effective for all different types of headaches, it does help limit many of the common causes. Since chiropractic care can help improve sleep, reduce stress, and even help with nutrition tips, it’s not uncommon for patients to experience headache relief with continued care.

Proof #5: It reduces muscle spasms.

Muscle spasms can range from annoying to downright painful, but chiropractic care can help. According to one study, spinal manipulation had a significant short-term effect on multifidus muscle function.

Proof #6: It improves range of motion.

Limited range of motion is another common issue that chiropractors treat. It’s usually accompanied by pain and can become debilitating, especially when it occurs in the neck area. There are several studies that present evidence of spinal manipulation in improving range of motion. Some improvement has been seen in as little as one session.

Proof #7: It helps with joint pain and arthritis.

More and more people are turning to chiropractic for help with joint pain, including arthritis. Several chiropractic modalities have been effective at reducing joint pain and inflammation, making it an ideal non-invasive treatment option for many people. The Arthritis Foundation cites chiropractic care as a safe and accepted form of treatment.

Proof #8: It reduces chronic pain.

Chiropractic care can help reduce many different types of chronic musculoskeletal pain. Back pain is the most common type of chronic pain for which people seek medical advice. As a result, there are numerous studies showing that chiropractic care is safe, effective, and beneficial for those suffering from chronic back pain. These findings are not new, and they continue to be reinforced with subsequent studies.

Proof #9: It helps with migraines.

Migraine headaches have many different triggers, just like other types of headaches. However, migraines are usually more severe and debilitating. While no two people have the exact same migraine triggers, chiropractic care has an excellent track record of reducing migraine frequency and intensity among many different people. This study states that spinal manipulation and other chiropractic modalities help manage migraine headaches.

Proof #10: It helps promote weight loss.

There is no easy fix for weight loss. It requires hard work in the form of exercise and proper nutrition. Knowing that, it may seem strange that chiropractic care can help with weight loss, but it’s true.

Most chiropractic offices have a certified nutritionist on staff. Sometimes this is even the same person as your doctor of chiropractic. It’s very common for patients to receive nutrition and exercise advice as a part of chiropractic care. Plus, pain relief is a major factor in enabling those with chronic pain to start to become active again, helping them shed the pounds.

Proof #11: It promotes better posture.

As you may suspect, chiropractors can help you improve your posture. Since they deal with the spine, they can fix subluxations that could be preventing you from maintaining an ideal posture throughout the day. Proper posture can also help prevent spinal arthritis later in life.

Proof #12: It is better than physician care in certain instances.

Chiropractors don’t treat everything. But those issues they do treat tend to have better results than similar treatment from a family physician. One study showed that chiropractic care for acute low back pain saw higher patient satisfaction and overall better issue-specific results than those who were treated by a family physician.

Proof #13: It is ideal for long-term chronic low back pain relief.

Similar to the study mentioned above, chiropractic care in the form of spinal manipulation was compared to back school and physical therapy treatment for chronic low back pain. The results showed that chiropractic care was more effective in both the short- and long-term. Not only did spinal manipulation help reduce pain but it also proved more effective in regards to function, as well.

Proof #14: It promotes better sleep.

There are several ways chiropractic care can promote better sleep. Most commonly, stress reduction and reduced pain are the top two reasons. Chiropractic can also help to reduce muscle tension, promote relaxation, and increase blood flow. All of these can lead to better sleep, which is essential for a healthy body and a happy mind.

Proof #15: It lowers blood pressure.

During a randomized, controlled trial, researchers found that participant’s blood pressure was significantly reduced following chiropractic treatment. Another study found similar results over the course of 8 weeks, effectively eliminating the need for two different types of blood pressure medicine during that time.

Proof #16: It helps improve digestion.

While the hard science is still being sorted out, chiropractic care is reported to improve digestion in some people. These findings are the result of self-reporting by many chiropractic patients. Many of them found that their digestion improved after seeing their chiropractor.

Proof #17: It helps flush toxins.

One of the minor side-effects experienced by some who undergo spinal manipulation is a lightheaded or slightly nauseous feeling. This is often the result of the body flushing toxins. It’s typically nothing to worry about, and is actually a good thing. When the spine is misaligned, it can cause the body’s communication with the brain to become less-than-optimal. As a result, toxins can build up in the body, waiting to be flushed. Diet and exercise are also ways to flush toxins.

Proof #18: It can increase energy.

A general benefit that chiropractic offers is an increase in energy. There’s really no mystery behind this one. The many other benefits of chiropractic care come together to give people more energy. Chronic pain and discomfort can often cause fatigue. When that pain and discomfort start to fade away, people tend to feel more energetic.

Proof #19: It can improve mood.

Like increased energy, improved mood is something many chiropractic patients report feeling. This is likely for several reasons. The first being that a reduction in pain is likely to improve outlook and overall mood. The second is the fact that chiropractic tends to help people sleep, which in turn can affect mood. One study found improvements in subjects’ moods more significant when actual spinal manipulation was done, as opposed to sham manipulation.

Proof #20: It can reduce the need for medications.

An analysis conducted in 2019 found that chiropractic patients were over 60% less likely to fill an opioid prescription than those who weren’t seeing a chiropractor. This is because chiropractic care aims at treating the cause of the pain, not simply the sensation. Another study, cited above, showed a reduction in the need for blood pressure medicine for recipients of chiropractic care.

Proof #21: It promotes healing and recovery.

Since chiropractors view the body as a unit, it’s no surprise to find that they can help promote healing and recovery through manual manipulation. This is thought to be the result of improvements in the nervous system, blood flow, relaxation, and sleep. When the body is in sync, it can recover quickly from injury or sickness.

Proof #22: It helps reduce depression and anxiety.

Depression and anxiety are closely tied to chronic pain. Depression and pain are thought to share pathways in the brain. As the body deals with chronic pain, the mind is affected as well, often causing higher rates of depression and anxiety. As the body begins to heal and pain is reduced, the levels of anxiety and depression are reduced, as well.

Proof #23: It helps that sciatica.

Sciatic nerve treatment is common among chiropractic practitioners. The irritation of the sciatic nerve is often caused by a subluxation in the lower back, creating pain down the leg and in the glute muscles. Although sciatica often goes away on its own, chiropractic care has been able to provide faster relief for many patients.

Should We Consider Pain a Friend?

Pain can actually be a bit of a friend to us. We certainly may not feel this way as we experience it, but it does help to alert us that something needs attention in the body. Whether your pain is currently only a ‘slight discomfort’ or has become an intense constant distraction from life, steps can be taken to alleviate it.

Chiropractic treatments begin by finding out what the pain signals mean – what the body is trying to say to the sufferer. Locating the underlying source of such alerts can be quite beneficial for genuine healing. Pain sufferers will want to better understand all that the nerves are trying to communicate.

Chiropractors can be viewed as ‘interpreters’ for the musculoskeletal and neuromuscular systems in the body. Treatments work to locate, decipher, and minimize the need for the signals the body is choosing to send. As these signals are deciphered, care can be maximized and healing commences.

When Pain Does Not Feel Like a Friend

At times, the body can become so accustomed to sending pain signals that it may forget that the initial reason for sending alert signals has passed. This can happen over time with chronic pain. If an injury has begun to heal, but the pain is still present, the body may benefit from a bit of redirection and need help recognizing that the source of the pain is no longer present. Chiropractic works to help the body to realize that the injury itself has gone.

Chiropractic also works to minimize the impact of an injury throughout the healing process. Careful treatments during the process of recovering from an injury can dramatically decrease the risk of pain lasting longer than it should. Chiropractic care includes techniques designed to bring healing to the body, as well as help the body to recognize this as it is taking place. Efficient care means helping the body to keep up with its own communication system (the central nervous system) as it continues to heal itself.

Why Do Some Clients Seek Chiropractic Care When Pain Is Not Present?

Healthy posture is important for the body to have an increased chance of avoiding injury in nearly all activities of life. As humans, we subject our joints to ‘normal wear and tear’ simply by living. Add in all of the fun and interesting activities that we choose to make life personal and unique to us, and we easily increase the need for regular spinal care.

Does this mean that we should stop or minimize activity? Surely not! Couch sitting may be a sport that some enjoy, but it does nothing to increase the health of the spine or any other part of the body. Rather, we can take steps to ensure that we approach the tasks that we love with a body that is intact and ready to take on all of the activity and fun that we can provide.

Working like a plumb line, chiropractic works to improve spinal alignment over time. The plumb line of chiropractic care works to bring the body into alignment, increasing the body’s ability to withstand the daily activities that we call life. Chiropractic treatments work to help improve the spinal alignment of clients and give the body what it needs to recognize how to keep itself healthy.

Receiving chiropractic care when pain is not directly present is much like keeping the plumb line close when the wall ‘looks’ correctly placed. A good contractor will still bring the line to the wall to avoid even the slightest of discrepancies. A slight alteration may seem minimal until a few begin to meet together to create a wall that is severely askew, causing the contractor to schedule repairs.

Regular treatments may certainly be less frequent if pain is not present, but still work as reminders to the body on how to stay pain-free. It is the small regular reminders that serve to provide great benefit to individuals choosing to use their spine on a regular basis. Caring for the body when pain is minimal or not current is an extremely effective method for avoiding pain before it begins.

Our bodies are degenerative in nature. This means that over time they will be subject to deterioration just because we are alive to live in them. The rate at which this process happens depends very much on how we care for the parts that make up the whole unit.

Chiropractic helps us to give a kind hand to the individual mechanisms of the body, helping to slow the process of degeneration. The earlier that care is provided, the more fortitude the body is given toward general health during the natural process of degeneration – whether or not pain is present initially.

How Do Chiropractic Adjustments Work?

Yes! Here’s how. Chiropractic adjustments help the body to remember its natural positioning in relation to its own inner components. Just as intricate machines manufactured by man require regular maintenance, so do our complex bodies also need regular care. Chiropractic adjustments work to regulate health in the body, prevent injury, and direct healing when an injury occurs.

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Through time, daily activities, and normal usage our bodies become slightly altered from their original positioning. Over time nerves may begin to alert us that changes have occurred in parts of us that we cannot see with our eyes. The nerves act as a secret messaging system letting a person know that something inside needs care.

Listening to the small alerts and getting care for them early can help us to minimize or even avoid the loud, screaming signals that may also be sent by the central nervous system. Chiropractic adjustments bring wellness back into the body through direct care to the musculoskeletal portions of the body.

Subluxations are when joint surfaces begin to lose contact with one another in the body. This can happen as the result of an acute injury or be due to slight alterations to the joint over time. Individuals are often not even aware that anything has changed in the body. If not corrected, further damage to the joint may occur. If the condition is very mild, pain may be mild and even go away fairly quickly.

Subluxations may also be recognized as ‘partial dislocations’ of an affected joint. The structures of a joint may become stretched too far, still retaining the bones together but causing a weakness resulting in discomfort. This weakness also means that the joint may be less likely to avoid further injury.

The body becomes susceptible to other conditions because the ‘strength structures’ are not in place to help guard against injury. One or more joints may need consideration for care, often depending on the severity of an injury or joint degeneration. Multiple joints in an altered state further weaken the body’s ability to avoid injury.

Chiropractic adjustment techniques bring gentle force to a joint guiding it back to its natural status in the body. Like a reminder mechanism, adjustments give bones and their connective matters help in recalling their natural placement for increased joint strength. The health of each joint is managed through these gentle reminders that strength is possible and beneficial for the body.

Chiropractic adjustment provides the body with instructions for healing itself naturally. Healing is made more efficient and effective by working to repair small infractions and helping to avoid any greater loss of strength. Gentle reminders help the body appreciate its own innate sense of wellness.

Treatments work to relieve pressure in the body. The trade is an increased level of communication for the nerves that register pain. As joint mechanisms are strengthened, the central nervous system has a greater ability to function, lessening the need to send the alerting signals we call pain.

Restoration: It Is a Process

Once enough restoration has taken place in a joint, nutrients and water will also be able to find better placement in the body’s tiny inner spaces, further increasing joint health.  As systems in the body are permitted better communication, pain continues to decrease and is often eliminated. Toxins are also more efficiently released and flushed out of the body through this process.

Restoration of the greater portions of the body is attained by focusing on intricate communication pathways the body requires for regular use. As the small, tiny mechanisms are given care, their cooperation is increased providing greater wellness in the body as a complete, functioning unit. Restoration becomes cyclical, leading to greater levels of continued health.

Care for Multiple Conditions

Why do chiropractors help with so many different types of conditions? Chiropractic care is an extremely effective method for treating acute, chronic, and degenerative matters in the body. Therefore, patients benefit from chiropractic care treatments for hundreds of pain conditions. A few of the more common conditions include:

  • Arthritis
  • Bursitis
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Disc problems
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Headaches, migraines
  • Neck pain,
  • Pinched nerves
  • Scoliosis
  • Sciatica
  • Shoulder pain
  • Spondylosis
  • Sprains, Strains
  • Stenosis
  • Subluxations
  • Tendonitis
  • Upper and lower back pain
  • Whiplash

Chiropractic care helps with so many pain conditions because it does not focus just on treating just the pain itself. It works to treat the cause that pain is being experienced by the sufferer. Genuine healing and wellness become the focus.

At its core chiropractic is designed to work with the body to bring natural healing. As we have seen, pain is often a way for the body to tell a person that something needs attention. Chiropractic works to alleviate the body’s need to send communication because it works to eliminate the underlying condition.

How Long Does It Take for Care to Become Effective?

The exact amount of time that it will take to heal varies widely based on the severity of a patient’s particular condition, the age of the patient, quality of care, as well as the patient’s own involvement in the process. It is not at all uncommon for clients to report a dramatic decrease in pain with the first care session. Care plans are designed to be pliable and work with pain sufferers as the healing process continues.

Depending on the exact type of injury or ailment, the recovery process may take a few weeks for mild conditions. If multiple conditions are present, additional recovery time may be needed. Severe cases may require several months for a full recovery. Communication with your local chiropractic provider during the recovery process can be a key aid to healing efficiently.

But Is Chiropractic Effective Long-Term?

Are chiropractors effective for long-term health? Yes! Long-term health and wellness are the epitome of the goal of chiropractic! Treatments are intentionally orchestrated with this need in mind. The nature of training the body to bring healing and retain wellness is a key foundational component of chiropractic care.

Configurations in the body gain massive benefits from intentional attention to the tiny bits that make up the whole. Chiropractic works to bring these small bits together for better function and life-long wellness. Treatments for patients of all ages focus on unifying the body to itself for a general sense of wellness throughout the body.

The human body is a degenerative structure that is designed with intricate constructions. Chiropractic care works to slow down that degeneration. It helps promote a general sense of wellness that the body wants to keep as ‘normal’ with small, gentle reminders of health. Long-term healing is obtained through care treatments that focus on joint health, injury recovery, and specific client needs.

How Does A Chiropractor’s Knowledge Help Patients?

Chiropractors are equipped with medical knowledge that specializes in holistic care for the body that begins with aligning the musculoskeletal system. Treatments include repairing neuromuscular damage and the restoration of joints in the body. Care may also include training clients to better understand their own physical injury or ailment.

Knowledge of the body’s inner mechanisms creates a path to direct healing – without a scalpel. Medications are seldom utilized. The body is meant to work as a unit. Chiropractic honors the body as a unit and works to increase function and wellness in the body. It is knowledge of the body that serves as the greatest source of healing in clients with chiropractic care.

Physicians earning a Doctorate of Chiropractic work to gain knowledge regarding the musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, central nervous system, and related bodily mechanisms. This knowledge is directed to provide direct care of the body through specific techniques that work to bring wellness in the body as a unit. Chiropractic patients in Alaskan share their stories.

Taking a Comprehensive Approach for Increased Health

Chiropractic care plans can be designed to accommodate a client’s particular health needs, schedule, budget, and personal preferences. Treatment plans are meant to work with the patient to maximize each chiropractic visit. A multidisciplinary approach may be offered for increased results. Therapies provided may include:

  • Chiropractic care and adjustment
  • Physical rehabilitation therapy
  • Massage therapy
  • Disc decompression therapy
  • Traction, ultrasound, stimulation, exercise instruction, and strength training

Exact care techniques used during treatment will vary based on a patient’s specific needs. If a particular treatment does not seem to be as effective as expected, be sure to speak with your chiropractor. One benefit – and goal – of chiropractic is to tailor the time spent specifically to each patient’s physical makeup and care needs. Take advantage of this and be sure to inquire when you have questions about the types of care that are provided.

Taking Care to the Next Level

Chiropractic treatments help to facilitate joint health as well as promote general wellness within the body for life. Better Health Chiropractic clinics welcome individuals looking to maximize wellness by minimizing pain conditions in the body. Whether or not a client has one or ten conditions that result in pain, a care plan can be developed to personalize treatments and make sure that chiropractic works for you.

Our professionally trained staff offers a complete range of highly effective, conservative treatments. We welcome clients to relax in our presence as we work to guide them toward healing. Patients are encouraged to collaborate on their care needs with our staff on all points of care and scheduling.

Contact us today and find out how chiropractic care works for you! Find us online or call 1.877.346.5255. Our four Alaskan locations are equipped to work with you to bring personalized care.

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About the Author

Dr. Brent Wells, D.C.

Dr. Brent Wells has been a trusted chiropractor since moving his family from Oregon to Alaska back in 1998 and founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab – B.S. from Univ. of Nevada, Doctorate from Western States Chiropractic College, volunteer for Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Foundation, and member of the American Chiropractic Association. As a chiropractor his focus is on family, including his 3 children and wife of 20+ years, his clinics, and ongoing education.

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