For much of the 20th Century, a first-line treatment for back pain was medication: opioid pain pills or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as acetaminophen or magnesium salicylate.
Increasingly, patients with pain in their backs - or elsewhere in the body - visit a chiropractor.
Though there was dispute in the past, medical professionals are now in general agreement that aligning the bones of the spine is the best first approach toward treating back pain. Chiropractic doctors also frequently advise patients not to wait until they are suffering, and that regular adjustments can prevent pain.
“Your brain communicates with your body through your nervous system, and your nervous system is housed by your spine,” said Dr. Breanna Batey of Health First Chiropractic Clinic. “As chiropractors, we restore and maintain wellness within your body through adjustments. It not only helps with problems you may already have, it is also proactive for your health.”
Dr. Shannon Grimes, of Grimes Chiropractic and Wellness Center, said chiropractors should not be thought of as “back doctors.”
“We do manipulate the bones and joints,” he said. “But we do so to keep the nervous system and brain healthy. It promotes better overall health.”
For much of its history, chiropractic had a strained relationship with “mainstream” health care. Some chiropractors committed to homeopathic treatments spoke against helpful medical practices such as vaccination, while the American Medical Association embarked on a campaign for much of the 1960s and ‘70s to discredit chiropractic care.
Dr. Elaine Clinton of the Keys Chiropractic Clinic echoed the sentiments of many chiropractors when explaining why she entered the field.
“I wanted to do it because it is a natural approach to health care,” she said. “There are no drugs or surgery involved. It permits a better quality of life. If you are not aligned, it can be difficult to move. If you can’t move, your quality of life deteriorates pretty quickly.”
Since the late 1980s, chiropractic has enjoyed greater acceptance among medical professionals and the public, who increasingly recognize its utility for treatment of musculoskeletal conditions.
“I get a lot of referrals from M.D.’s and D.O.’s,” Clinton said. “They know that chiropractic care can help. M.D.’s don’t receive chiropractic training. D.O.’s do, but most don’t utilize or maintain that training. They send patients to chiropractors because we provide alignments all the time and have that experience.”
There are chiropractic doctors who rely on homeopathic diagnoses for an array of ailments. These “straight” practitioners adhere to the original chiropractic principles which include “metaphysical” and “vitalistic” approaches which may put them at odds with modern western medicine.
Others say chiropractic is an element of overall health care. These “mixers” embrace analytical diagnoses and the empirical philosophy. Clinton said “my treatments are based in scientific evidence.”
“I do have some concern that medicines and surgeries are over-prescribed or over-utilized,” Grimes said.
“Chiropractic care relieves pain and offers an ounce of prevention. But I also absolutely believe that medicines and surgery should be used whenever appropriate.”
Information about chiropractic care and the professional field are available at www.acatoday.org.
For more information about the structure of the spine, go to tahlequahTDP.com