Does Chiropractic Treatment Work? When Should It Be Used? Harmful?

Dr. James Rathmell answers the question: 'Chiropractic Treatment For Pain?'

ByABC News
December 24, 2007, 10:08 AM

— -- Question: Does Chiropractic Treatment Work And When Should It Be Considered For Pain Relief?

Answer: There's good evidence that chiropractic care can be a benefit in a number of different painful conditions. Low back pain is one of them, particularly acute low back pain. Chiropractic care can speed the resolution of flare-ups of low back pain, and it can reduce the overall level of abnormal function; you can get up and around and walk sooner, and get back to your normal activities of daily living sooner after chiropractic care. In the longer term, it's less clear, because there are some scientific studies, but they seem to be conflicting; they give conflicting results. Some saying that it does help with chronic low back pain, and others that say it's not very beneficial, or it's not beneficial at all. So difficult to answer whether or not it's good for chronic low back pain.

Can it be harmful? Absolutely, it can be harmful. And a good chiropractor, someone who is well-versed in the field, would pick up on those warning signs and would stay away from manipulation in very specific areas. Some of the areas that are most worrisome are people who have large herniated disks, so large that they're pressing on the spinal cord or the nerve roots. Manipulation can worsen that pressure and even cause paralysis. Very uncommon, easy to pick up the warning signs, and the vast majority of well-trained chiropractors would stay well away from manipulation in those situations.

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