Pain is not foreign to anyone. Whoever you are, you have surely suffered pain in the past or are currently experiencing it, which could explain why you’re here in the first place. In any case, pain can be debilitating, and most of the time, treated with narcotics, which isn’t the healthiest option.
Chiropractors are experts in providing pain relief regardless if you’re feeling pain in your joints, muscles or experiencing headaches. Why is this? Because chiropractors are physicians specialized in the nervous system and musculoskeletal system. The nervous system includes the nerves that carry pain signals to the brain and back. Hence, chiropractors are trained to relieve pain produced by any conditions of the bones, muscles, and spine. And no, they do not prescribe narcotics. Pain relief is provided by treatments that are natural, non-invasive, and safe.
Chiropractic treatments can be placed under two categories. These can be either active or passive treatments. These terms, which we will clarify, can be confusing for patients who have never heard of these be associated with health care. In this article, we will describe the differences and benefits of each. So keep reading to know what you can expect from chiropractic care.
In chiropractic care, any treatment performed by a chiropractor, while the patient lies down on the table, can be referred to as passive care. It is called passive care because the patient is not required to move or participate in any way; the chiropractor does all the work. So all you have to do is lay back and relax.
This type of care is good for when you are starting your treatment plan. For instance, after a car accident, you may have been injured, which left you tense and with muscle stiffness. You may be in a lot of pain and not able to move properly on your own. This is why the chiropractor takes control, to perform controlled movements that will promote healing. It also decreases the risk of hurting yourself even further. There are different treatments that fall under this category.
- Ultrasound Therapy: the same ultrasound used on pregnant women, is also used on chiropractic patients. Ultrasound stimulates tissue to micro-massage it. This increases blood flow, which sends nutrients to the area, ultimately, promoting healing. It also relaxes the muscle to reduce pain. This can be beneficial for scar tissue pain, bursitis, sprains and strains, tendonitis, and other conditions or injuries.
- Electrical Muscle Stimulation: electrodes are placed over the skin of the affected area. These send electrical pulses to gently stimulate the muscle. This treatment reduces inflammation and reduces muscle spasms to minimize pain.
- Cryotherapy (Ice therapy): Ice can be applied in different forms and it is recommendable for injuries within the first 48 hours. Lowering the temperature of the injured area will slow down blood flow to reduce swelling and numb the pain. Your chiropractor may apply this 10 minutes at a time and direct you to do the same when you’re at home.
- Thermotherapy (Heat therapy): Heat does the opposite of ice. It will increase the temperature, and therefore, increase blood flow. With this, the tissue in that area will loosen and pain will decrease. Heat can only be applied for up to 30 minutes at a time. Similarly to cold therapy, the chiropractor may teach you how to apply this at home.
- Cold laser therapy: low levels of light are directed towards the area of interest. This functions to encourage cell regeneration, which accelerates the healing process. Muscle and joint pain, sprains and strains, bursitis, and more are treated by cold laser therapy. The wavelengths used depend on how deep the injury is, but this therapy remains painless at all times.
- Stretches: if you suffered a sprain or strain, or another injury that stiffened your muscles or ligaments, your chiropractor may perform stretches on you. You may be instructed to lie on the table, while the chiropractor slowly stretches your extremities and joints. This is an essential part of your rehabilitation as you need to recover your flexibility in order to perform normally in your daily life.
- Soft tissue massage: after an accident, where you experienced whiplash, you may be feeling tense, stiff, and pain in the head and neck area. A chiropractor can perform a soft tissue massage to release the tension. By doing this, you will experience less pain and gradually recover mobility in the area.
- Chiropractic adjustment: Last but not least, we have the chiropractic adjustment. During this treatment, you will relax on the table and the chiropractor will use his hands to perform controlled movements on the joints of the spine. This is one of the most frequent treatments performed by a chiropractor and is frequently used to treat a variety of conditions, such as chronic pain in the lower back, neck pain, and migraines.
Different from passive care, active care requires the patient’s participation and input. It usually follows passive care or is used for patients that did not suffer highly severe injuries. This means that your chiropractor may guide you as you perform certain movements in the facility.
It also includes any instructions or recommendations that they may provide for you to practice in your daily life. By implementing active care, your chiropractor makes sure that you adopt good health behaviors so you can return to a balanced life that supports your rehabilitation.
- Ergonomics: throughout the years, you may have adopted a poor posture. Maybe you work an office job that requires you to sit at a desk for hours, or your sleeping position is incorrect. If so, your chiropractor will ask you to make changes, give you tips and recommend a change of mattress or chair to make sure you adopt a healthier posture. You may experience improvements outside of your injury, like better breathing and better digestion.
- Dietary recommendations: your chiropractor is trained to recommend changes in your diet. He may ask you to include certain nutrients or increase their ingestion. He may also instruct you to increase the amount of water that you’re consuming if you are not hydrating properly. Dietary recommendations may be a vital part of your treatment plan and have a direct effect on the speed of recovery.
- Exercises: your chiropractor is very likely to instruct you to exercise. Exercising can be essential to a proper and timely recovery. These exercises will help you regain mobility, flexibility, and strength of your muscles, bones, and joints. They also have other benefits for your physical and mental well-being.
These are only a few examples of active and passive treatments within chiropractic care. Depending on your case, the ratio of active to passive treatments will vary. The conditions that you suffer from, the severity of your injuries, your anatomical differences and your lifestyle are all some of the factors that affect this. You may receive no passive treatments or only passive treatments.