chiropractic care

  1. New attacks on chiropractic care

    Chiropractic under attack

    I recently received an overseas phone call from a patient who had a stroke while he was traveling.

    Fortunately, he recovered. But the hospital doctor told him his stroke may have been caused by his chiropractic adjustments, and he wanted to know what I thought.

    I told him that the chances of getting a stroke from chiropractic adjustments to the neck are extremely low. And in any case, it had been several weeks since his last adjustment, so the timing just didn't correlate.

    It sounds to me like he was the victim of scare tactics -- tactics used by the mainstream all the time, in spite of the fact that chiropractic care has been safely practiced for more than a century now.

    One recent study that claims to confirm the link between neck adjustments and stroke even led to some sensational headlines, like this little gem from Britain's Daily Mail newspaper: "Letting a chiropractor 'crack' your neck to ease pain could trigger stroke."

    They have one part of it right. Chiropractic can ease pain -- but it's not going to trigger a stroke. This supposed link is brought up every few years, and it's always quickly dismissed.

    The theory is that cracking the neck can cause a tear in the lining of the vertebral artery, which can then lead to a stroke. And since some people who have a stroke caused by a tear have been to a chiropractor, that must've been the cause... right?

    Nope.

    It's the old chicken-or-the-egg argument, except in this case we know exactly which one came first: the tear in the lining of the vertebrae.

    If you get one of those tears, you'll almost certainly feel some pain. Go to your own doctor, and he'll assume it's a stiff neck or sore muscle and send you home with a bottle of Tylenol and tell you to rest your neck.

    When that doesn't work, you visit a chiropractor. He adjusts your neck -- and, at some point afterward, you suffer a stroke. But the neck adjustment didn't cause your stroke any more than the Tylenol did (although some painkillers, unlike chiropractic, certainly can raise your stroke risk).

    The biggest problem here is that no one -- not your doctor, and not the chiropractor -- was correctly able to identify the cause of the pain, so it went uncorrected.

    That, more than anything else, is what ultimately led to the stroke, and this goes to the heart of what I tell all my patients about pain relief: There's a big difference between easing the pain, which can often be done easily enough, and solving the actual problem that's causing the pain.

    So no matter where your pain is, don't just stop with pain relief techniques. Make sure you work with a holistic doctor to find the underlying cause of that pain -- and correct it, before you find yourself battling something even worse.

    And whatever you do, don't fall for that age-old lie from the American Medical Association that chiropractic treatments are dangerous.

  2. Move your back, ease the pain

    The last thing anyone with a sore back wants to do is move it around.

    I know -- I've been there myself, and the natural reaction is to find a spot where you can sit as stiff as a board and move as little as possible.

    The other natural reaction, of course, is a fistful of painkillers.

    Don't give in to either reaction: There isn't a bad back on the planet that's been cured by painkillers, and a new study confirms that sitting tight can actually make the pain worse -- and even boost your risk of depression, too.

    Researchers randomly assigned 109 back patients to either stay active through the pain or limit their activities as much as possible -- and if you're suffering from back pain you might want to get up for this one: Those who moved had quicker recoveries, less pain and less depression than those who limited their activity.

    The researchers say a person who goes into statue mode when they feel back pain could be setting themselves up for the classic downward spiral: Since they're not moving, they feel more pain. When they feel more pain, they get depressed -- and since depressed people feel pain more, it can feel even worse than it really is.

    Of course, anyone who's battled back pain -- and that's nearly everyone at some point -- knows there's no one-size-fits-all formula for treatment, but too many doctors stubbornly insist on giving everyone the same advice.

    Along with a big jar of painkillers.

    Now, another new study confirms that docs have it all wrong -- because patients given a more customized treatment plan get better results at a lower cost.

    Researchers divided back pain patients into three categories based on their risk of long-term pain and disability, and assigned them to different levels of advice and/or therapy based on that risk.

    A year later, these patients all had less pain and more improvements than a group that got the standard one-size-fits-all advice.

    Sounds good -- but make sure your customized treatment plan isn't a choice between one bad mainstream option and another.

    Despite what you've heard, you can beat the pain -- even extreme pain -- without meds or surgery. Acupuncture, massage therapy, chiropractic care and more have all shown to help put back pain on the back burner.

    And in many cases, time alone can heal those invisible wounds.

    For more on natural back pain options, visit the Web site of the Health Sciences Institute and enter "back pain" into the "Find a Cure" box.

    And don't forget to keep moving.

  3. X-rays rarely uncover back pain source

    The simple reality is that these images will almost never uncover the real source of your problem--but they're pretty good at spotting a source of income for your orthopedist, because a new study shows how they often lead to surgeries that don't actually end the pain.
  4. Beating back pain without painkillers

    Many people fighting back pain are afraid of exercise, especially folks who have to deal with that persistent lower back pain.

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