Fitness Why Chiropractic Works By Center for Integrative Medicine, October 30, 2014 If you’ve ever experienced back pain, you’re not alone. Back pain is one of the nation’s most common medical ailments and a leading reason for missing work. The National Institutes of Health estimates that eight out of 10 people will experience a back problem at some point in their lives. Back problems can stem from accidental or sports-related injuries, decades of poor posture or time spent hunched over a desk, and other causes. Many people seeking relief from back pain turn to chiropractors for an adjustment of their spine. If you are unfamiliar with chiropractic care, check out these facts from our experts at the UPMC Center for Integrative Medicine and the American Chiropractic Association. What is Chiropractic? It is a health care profession that focuses on disorders of the nervous system and spine, and their effects on general health. Chiropractors primarily perform adjustments, or manipulations, to the spine or other parts of the body to correct alignment problems, alleviate pain, improve function, and support the body’s natural ability to heal itself. How Does Back Pain Affect My Health? Chiropractors believe the spinal column can become stressed and strained due to physical overuse, disuse, or sudden injury. This can lead to imbalances in our nervous system, muscles, and blood supply, which can lead to pain, dysfunction, ill health, and eventual disease. What Are the Main Benefits of Chiropractic? Chiropractic is widely recognized as one of the safest drug-free, noninvasive therapies available for the treatment of back pain, neck pain, headaches, and other musculoskeletal and nervous system complaints. You can feel better immediately because the adjustment restores mobility — alleviating pain and muscle tightness, and promoting natural healing. What’s Involved in Chiropractic Treatment? Typically, a chiropractor will first take your medical history, perform a physical examination, and may use x-rays and lab tests to determine if chiropractic treatment is appropriate. The treatment plan may include one or more manual adjustments using a gentle thrust, or manipulation, to the spine or other part of the body. Many chiropractors also include exercise instruction, lifestyle changes and nutritional counseling into the treatment plan. Other treatments may include trigger point massage, electrical stimulation, ultrasound, heat and ice. Who Shouldn’t Seek Chiropractic Care? Spinal manipulation is not recommended for patients with certain arthritic conditions, fractures, dislocations, cancer, or infection at the area of treatment. Older adults with osteoporosis or narrowing of the arteries to the brain should inform the doctor before treatment. For more information about chiropractic care, contact the UPMC Center for Integrative Medicine online or by phone at 412-623-3023.