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All About Chiropractic Care: History, Benefits, & Uses 

October marks National Chiropractic Health Month, which aims to raise public awareness of the benefits of chiropractic care and its drug-free approach to treating musculoskeletal issues.

In acknowledgment of this month, we’re dedicating this article to all things chiropractic. Read on to learn about the history of chiropractic care, its benefits, and what conditions it may help treat. 

First, let’s cover some basics. 

What Is Chiropractic Care? 

Chiropractic is a complementary medical practice based on the idea that a person’s body can heal itself with the help of targeted, hands-on manipulations from a trained professional. 

More specifically, chiropractors focus on diagnosing, treating, and preventing problems with the musculoskeletal system, which includes a person’s joints, muscles, bones, cartilage, and tendons. 

The main chiropractic technique used by chiropractors is manual therapy, which involves gentle manipulation of the spine (vertebrae), other joints, and soft tissues. 

The History of Chiropractic Care 

Spinal manipulation dates back hundreds of years, but it wasn’t formally defined until 1895 by Daniel David Palmer.[*

Palmer supposedly performed his first chiropractic adjustment on a janitor who said he partially lost his hearing after feeling something pop in his back. After adjusting the vertebrae in the upper back, the janitor claimed his hearing was restored.

In 1897, Palmer founded a chiropractic school, Palmer School of Cure. The school has since been renamed Palmer College of Chiropractic and currently operates in Iowa.

In 1913, the first state licensed chiropractors began practicing, and by 1931, 39 states had instituted chiropractic licensing. Today, licensing is present in all 50 states, with more than 70,000 registered chiropractors.[*]

The Shift to Modern Chiropractic 

Modern chiropractic treatment is based on a scientific spinal care model, however, the practice wasn’t always science-based. 

Historically, chiropractors believed that a misaligned spine could cause disease (as taught by Palmer) by means of the central nervous system. They also believed that regular spinal adjustments could correct problems in the musculoskeletal system and, in turn, cure disease.

Skeptics and scientists, however, found these beliefs to be lacking scientific evidence.[*] As a result, chiropractic wasn’t seen as legitimate in the eyes of the scientific community.[*

Fortunately, chiropractic theory has since evolved and, thanks to well-designed studies, is becoming more accepted as a treatment for musculoskeletal pain.

Science-Based Benefits of Chiropractic Care 

So, what are the benefits of chiropractic care? Let’s take a look.

1. Eases back pain 

Back pain is one of the most common reasons a person visits a chiropractor. This is not surprising when you learn that 65 million Americans report a recent episode of back pain.[*]  

Fortunately, studies show that chiropractic may help some cases of back pain. For example, a 2016 study found some evidence that chiropractic care may be as effective for lower back pain as physical therapy.[*

Additionally, a 2017 review of studies found that compared to placebo, spinal manipulation was associated with moderate improvements in acute back pain and function for up to six weeks.[*]  

2. Improves neck pain 

Chiropractic care shows great promise in treating neck pain, a common problem in the modern world.[*] A 2012 study involving 272 adults found that 12 weeks of spinal manipulation was more effective than medication at treating non-specific neck pain at 8-, 12-, 26-, and 52-week follow-ups.[*]

3. Reduces headaches

If you experience headaches that originate from your neck, chiropractic may be able to help. 

A 2016 study found that six to eight sessions of cervical and upper thoracic spine manipulation were more effective than movement and exercise in relieving pain in people with chronic headaches. Impressively, this was still the case at a three-month follow-up.[*]

4. Reduces reliance on opioid pain relievers 

Researchers estimate that 20% of Americans struggle with chronic pain.[*] To quell their discomfort, many of those people receive a prescription for opioid painkillers, which are highly addictive. 

In 2019, around 9.7 million people abused prescription opioid pain relievers and in 2020, a shocking 44 people (on average) died each day from overdoses involving prescription opioids. [*][*]  

Chiropractic care is all-natural and drug-free and has been shown to reduce people’s reliance on prescription medications. A large 2020 study, for instance, found that adults who visited a chiropractor were less likely to fill an opioid prescription for their pain than those who only saw their primary care doctor.[*]

5. Reduces scoliosis symptoms 

Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine and is most commonly diagnosed in adolescents. Chiropractic treatment may help improve the Cobb angle of people with scoliosis. The Cobb angle is a measurement of how much side-to-side curvature there is in the spine.

While more research is needed, a small 2016 study found that the Cobb angle in children with scoliosis improved after eight weeks of chiropractic treatment.[*

6. Helps improve posture 

Nowadays, many people work at computers for hours daily with less than ideal posture and frequently bend their necks forward to look at their phones. While working to improve your posture throughout the day is essential, chiropractic may also help correct poor posture. 

 A 2017 case study explored the effect of chiropractic treatment on a 27-year-old woman experiencing neck, back, and head pain caused by hyperkyphosis posture (aka hunchback posture).[*

After undergoing 30 chiropractic treatments in six months, the patient showed a significant improvement in her posture and pain levels in her head and neck. 

Is Chiropractic Care Right for You? 

If you’re experiencing musculoskeletal pain, you may want to consider scheduling a consultation with a chiropractor to determine if this treatment is right for you. Chiropractic care can work as a stand-alone or complementary treatment.  

At Knew Health, receiving chiropractic care for musculoskeletal conditions is a shareable expense. That means that once you’ve accumulated costs for this condition that go over your Initial Unshareable Amount (IUA), we will manage the costs that exceed your IUA., including chiropractic care.

Additionally, if a Knew Health member utilizes chiropractic care in a maintenance capacity, rather than to treat a specific medical concern, we offer Members an annual allowance that they can put towards the health or wellness services of their choice, from lab work to more chiropractic care.

If you’re ready to take the first step toward improved health and fair and reasonable costs for healthcare, consider becoming a Knew Health member today!   

Disclaimer: This information is being provided to you for educational and informational purposes only. It is being provided to educate you about how to take care of your body and as a self-help tool for your own use so that you can reach your own health goals. It is not intended to treat or cure any specific illness and is not to replace the guidance provided by your own medical practitioner. This information is to be used at your own risk based on your own judgment. If you suspect you have a medical problem, we urge you to take appropriate action by seeking medical attention.

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