Can Chiropractic Care for Chronic Pain Be an Effective Alternative to Medication?

December 29th, 2023
Can Chiropractic Care for Chronic Pain Be an Effective Alternative to Medication?

Injuries from sports, work, accidents, or at home can cause chronic pain that lasts well after the original injury. This pain can slow you down and limit your mobility in everyday life.

Seeking a cure, it's natural to turn to medication. Painkillers instantly reduce the pain, but it comes at a heavy cost, and prolonged usage can lead to dependency. 

For those seeking relief, chiropractic care is a promising alternative, employing a natural and holistic approach to pain management to remedy pain immediately, and minimize the effects in the long run.

Don't believe us? Here are a few examples of conditions where chiropractic treatment is the better alternative to traditional medicine. 

The Condition: Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain ranks among the most common injuries, causing discomfort and hindering daily activities for countless individuals. This pervasive issue arises from a variety of sources, including herniated discs, muscle strains, arthritis, and more, often leading sufferers to seek immediate relief through traditional medical treatments.

Medical Treatment for Lower Back Pain

Physicians frequently turn to NSAIDs as an initial defense against the inflammation and discomfort associated with lower back issues. When pain escalates to unbearable levels, opioids may enter the picture, valued for their potent analgesic effects. 

Yet these pharmaceutical interventions are double-edged swords: they can temporarily mask the pain but do nothing to remedy its cause—and there’s an extra cost, as side effects such as kidney issues or gastrointestinal upsets loom large.

Timeline for Medical Treatment

Medication usually occurs at regular dosage schedules aimed at containing symptoms. However, without addressing underlying mechanical problems, medication remains a temporary option, with patients potentially needing higher doses as tolerance develops.

Chiropractic Treatment for Lower Back Pain

In stark contrast, chiropractic care offers a hands-on approach to healing—one rooted in the physical rather than the chemical. Employing techniques such as HVLA manipulation techniques, chiropractors address the causes of back pain. An additional chiropractic method involves soft-tissue therapy designed to relieve tight muscles, alleviate spasms, and release tension in the fascia surrounding muscles. 

Chiropractors may also recommend therapeutic exercises and stretches to strengthen the back muscles and enhance spinal support.

Timeline for Chiropractic Treatment

Patients’ journeys toward recovery can last from several weeks to a few months, depending on the severity and responsiveness to chiropractic adjustments. The long-term goal is to alleviate the present pain and prevent future discomfort.

The Condition: Migraines and Tension Headaches

Headaches can range from mild discomfort to severe migraines that disrupt daily life. Often linked to muscle tension in the neck or jaw, they can also be related to misalignment in the spine.

Treating Migraines With Medication

The medical route often includes over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil). 

For chronic migraines, doctors might prescribe triptans, which are specific migraine-reducing medications, or even preventive medications like beta-blockers or antidepressants.

While these drugs can provide speedy reprieve, their effects are fleeting, and they may induce adverse reactions like ulcers, gastrointestinal issues, and overuse rebound headaches. 

Moreover, the extended use of prescription drugs may foster dependence or unwanted side effects that compound the patient's discomfort.

Timeline of Medical Treatment

Immediate relief from OTC medication can be expected within a half-hour to an hour but is temporary. Prescription medications may last longer but require weeks or months of consistent use to gauge their full impact on reducing headache frequency and severity.

Chiropractic Treatment for Migraines

Chiropractors approach migraines and tension headaches from a structural perspective. They employ spinal manipulation or mobilization to rectify subluxations—misalignments of the vertebrae—that may contribute to headaches. Trigger point therapy, neck exercises, and ergonomic changes to reduce strain are also integral parts of chiropractic care.

This comprehensive treatment aims not only to relieve existing pain but also to readjust the body's alignment for better nerve function and muscular balance, which can help prevent the recurrence of headaches.

Timeline of Chiropractic Treatment

Results with chiropractic care can vary; some patients experience prompt symptom relief after just a few sessions, while others may notice gradual improvements over several weeks or months.

The ultimate goal is to attain long-term relief and curtail the frequency and intensity of migraine and tension headache episodes. As opposed to medication that usually addresses only the symptoms, chiropractic solutions strive for sustained well-being by correcting underlying causes.

The Condition: Fibromyalgia

When confronting fibromyalgia, patients face a condition characterized by widespread pain, profound fatigue, and cognitive difficulties—commonly referred to as "fibro fog." This chronic disorder poses treatment challenges due to its multifaceted nature.

Treating Fibromyalgia With Medication

Medication is often required for Fibromyalgia, and doctors may prescribe medications like pregabalin, which works by decreasing nerve pain, or duloxetine, an antidepressant that can also help alleviate the discomfort associated with fibromyalgia. 

These medications aim to balance neurotransmitters in the brain or reduce the intensity of the pain signals—offering patients a reprieve from their chronic symptoms. 

However, they typically require long-term usage, and their efficacy might wane over time. More concerning still are the potential side effects, ranging from dizziness and sleep disturbances to a risk of dependency.

Timeline for Medicinal Treatment

Medication treatment for fibromyalgia is ongoing and evolves as symptoms persist or change. The condition requires regular monitoring and adjustment by healthcare providers to manage the condition effectively.

Chiropractic Care for Fibromyalgia

While medical treatment helps with cognitive challenges and immediate pain, chiropractic treatment for fibromyalgia centers on enhancing the structural health of the body. 

It employs a blend of spinal adjustments and soft tissue therapies to relieve pressure on the nervous system, improve range of motion, and promote optimal joint function. 

Additionally, with targeted therapeutic exercises and lifestyle advice, chiropractors aim to bolster the body's natural ability to heal and manage pain.

Timeline for Chiropractic Therapy for Fibromyalgia

The journey through chiropractic treatment varies from patient to patient but generally follows a consistent trajectory that includes:

  • A comprehensive evaluation to determine specific areas of dysfunction.
  • A series of spinal adjustments aiming to correct misalignments and reduce neurological interference.
  • Soft tissue therapies such as myofascial release to lessen muscle tension and pain.
  • Nutritional and lifestyle counseling geared towards reducing inflammatory triggers and managing stress.

Initially, patients may undergo more frequent visits—potentially several times per week—to address acute discomfort and stabilize their condition. Gradually, as patients respond to care, sessions may shift focus toward longer-term health goals and become less frequent.

Chiropractic Care Can Benefit Other Conditions

Chiropractic care is emerging as a cornerstone for those seeking an alternative to medication for chronic pain management. By treating the condition holistically and focusing on correcting the underlying issues rather than just masking symptoms, chiropractic treatment is a step toward prolonged pain management.

For more information on how chiropractic care can address your chronic pain or to schedule an appointment with one of our skilled practitioners at Total Care Health, do not hesitate to contact us—because your health truly is our priority.

Total Care Health, based in Surrey, BC, offers science-based therapy in a compassionate environment. They have chiropractors, kinesiologists, physiotherapists, and massage therapists available to help you.

If you have any questions about this article, or you would like to book an appointment with one of our professionals, please call us at (604) 854-3090. We can help with orthotics!


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