You Should See A Chiropractor If This Happens To You

Chiropractors are neuromusculoskeletal experts, which means they can treat pain originating from the muscles and joints in the body. However, a 2008 multinational survey showed that more than 40 percent of chiropractic patient visits in the United States, Europe, and Australia were not for the treatment of pain, but for "health enhancement and/or disease prevention."

"We can do much more than just treat neck or back pain, the most common reasons why people go to see a chiropractor," Dr. Daina Patel, a chronic pain chiropractor, told Health Digest. "Chiropractors are trained in soft tissue work, exercises and other home care, nutrition and lifestyle advice, and much more." Some take X-rays, and most will refer patients to appropriate doctors when something lies outside their scope of practice.

Approximately half of American adults have been to a chiropractor, a 2014 report found. According to that report, uncertainty about the safety of chiropractic care is a hurdle. "Some people are scared of chiropractic adjustments where you may hear a cracking noise," said Patel. "This noise is just gas being released from the joints and doesn't always happen during an adjustment. And for those that do not wish to be 'cracked,' there are other treatment options available." Not sure if you should see a chiropractor? Let's find out.

Consider seeing a chiropractor when you're congested

The medical community has debated whether or not chiropractic care helps boost the immune system. One 2010 study in Chiropractic & Osteopathy suggested that a single adjustment can positively impact the immune system. However, other studies are inconclusive. In fact, in a 2020 literature review by the World Federation of Chiropractic came to the conclusion that "no credible, scientific evidence exists" showing spinal manipulation enhances immunity.

That said, a trip to the chiropractor may help alleviate your cold and flu symptoms, especially congestion. And if you are someone with chronic rhinosinusitis, you might just need to see a chiropractor. One study in the Journal of Manipulative & Physiological Therapeutics showed positive outcomes from manual therapy — decreased pain and pressure and lessening of symptom severity.

If you are a parent of a child who suffers from middle ear infections and you worry that congestion might lead to another painful infection, you should know there are cases suggesting chiropractic care as a natural, effective, and low risk approach to treating children's recurrent acute otitis media (middle ear infections). And that's a really good thing as antibiotic resistance can make traditional treatment challenging.

A chiropractor can help you manage your headaches or migraines

If you're one of the 39 million Americans who experiences migraines, you know how painful these severe headaches can be. The good news is that relief can be found in chiropractic care. A 2011 case study published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine showed that migraineurs may respond well to chiropractic spinal manipulative treatment.

Chiropractic care is also effective in the diagnosis and treatment of cervicogenic headaches. "Cervicogenic headaches come from a spinal misalignment in your neck, which puts additional pressure on the suboccipital muscles," Dr. Allen Conrad, a chiropractor based in Montgomery county, Pennsylvania, told Health Digest. "This pressure makes the muscles spasm, which results in referral headaches to the eyes, temple and back of the head."

Whiplash is often the cause of cervicogenic headaches. Other causes include arthritis in the neck, neck fractures, pinched nerves, slipped disks, and strained or sprained neck muscles (via Cleveland Clinic). "Cervicogenic headaches if left untreated can become debilitating constant headaches and commonly develop into migraine headaches as well," said Conrad.

See a chiropractor if you're experiencing minor aches and pains

Sometimes you might get minor aches and pains, a potential warning sign that something is going on within your body. People have a tendency to push through this pain or take it as normal and thus avoid treatment. However, ignoring your aches and pains could lead to more pain down the road or they could even develop into chronic conditions.

"Chiropractors can treat musculoskeletal conditions that are acute (happened very recently) or chronic (may be going on for months or years), both using different techniques and approaches," Dr. Daina Patel, a chronic pain chiropractor, confirmed to Health Digest

In some cases, pain can be a result of years of poor mechanics and poor movement patterns. "Being able to spot these before they turn into pain can save you years of suffering down the road," said Patel. "I always recommend prevention over reaction whenever possible." This can help speed up the healing process and save you months or even years of pain. It may also help reduce the likelihood that the pain will comes back again in the future or become chronic.

If you have a limited range of motion, consider making an appointment with a chiropractor

Joints connect the bones in your body, as the University of Rochester Medical Center explained, and they provide you with a full range of motion. However, your range of motion can be limited due to the natural aging process, a medical condition, inflammation, or injury (via Healthline).

"There are two main ways that joints lose motion mechanically: a problem with tissues inside the joint, which causes an obstruction to movement, and a problem with tissues that surround the joint, for example the joint capsule, which causes a restriction to motion," Dr. Jordan Duncan, chiropractor and owner of Silverdale Sport & Spine, told Health Digest.

Chiropractic care can help with both. During an adjustment, bones are moved in a precise way that causes a slight separation of joint surfaces. "This is often enough of a force to allow any alteration within the joint to reduce and settle down," said Duncan. "When it does, the obstruction is cleared and motion is restored." Also, during an adjustment, the tissues outside the joint  (the joint capsule) are quickly stretched. "This stretch is often sufficient enough to break up any tissue adhesions that cause tightness and a restriction to motion," said Duncan.

See a chiropractor if you develop sciatica

Sciatica is an irritation of the sciatic nerve, the longest nerve in the body. It causes radiating pain along the nerve's path, often starting in your lower back, traveling down through your hips, past your butt, and into your legs. And predominately, the disks in your spine are to blame (via Mayo Clinic). However, there's good news for those who have the condition: Studies, like one published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, show more positive outcomes resulting from those who seek chiropractic care.

"When your back is out of alignment, a chiropractor can identify the problem, correct it with a chiropractic adjustment, and recommend therapeutic McKenzie exercises to strengthen the area," Dr. Allen Conrad, a chiropractor based in Montgomery county, Pennsylvania, told Health Digest. However, untreated Sciatica can lead to permanent nerve damage. "You may not only continue to have pain in the leg, but also may develop muscle atrophy from spinal degeneration developing around the sciatic nerve," said Conrad.

Don't avoid the chiropractor if you're pregnant

When pregnant, the last thing a mother-to-be wants to do is try a new medical procedure, especially when she has questions about the safety of the treatment for her unborn child. Nevertheless, a review of medical literature published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine revealed that chiropractic evaluation and treatment during pregnancy is safe and effective. This is particularly good news for those who might be hesitant to manage any pain or discomfort with analgesics (via Canadian Family Physician).

Even the American Pregnancy Association is on board, recognizing that the benefits of chiropractic care during pregnancy go beyond back, neck, or joint pain relief. They include helping to control nausea, reducing time in labor and delivery, preventing potential C-sections, and promoting a healthier pregnancies overall.

"You should definitely see a chiropractor when you are pregnant," Dr. Matthew Durham, a South Carolina-based chiropractor, told Health Digest. "You add 25-plus pounds in front of your spine relatively quickly and that places a good bit of stress on your spine, particularly your sacroiliac (SI) joints, [which] can lead to mild to severe lower back pain that usually responds well to chiropractic adjustments."

A chiropractor can help alleviate jaw pain

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) allows the bones of your jaw to move effectively, connecting your jawbone to your skull. And when you find yourself with pain in that location, just to the front of your ears, you might be experiencing a TMJ disorder, or TMD (via WebMD). There can be many causes for this, and fortunately chiropractors are trained to evaluate and treat what might be ailing you. 

"Doctors of chiropractic are experts in the relationship between the structure and function of the body," Dr. Karen Erickson, a New York chiropractor and spokesperson for the American Chiropractic Association, told Health Digest. "I often work in collaboration with dentists and pain management physicians to help patients get the best results with the safest and most effective treatments."

When you think of jaw pain, you likely think of dental care as treatment. However, if alignment and joint function aren't corrected, traditional treatments might not resolve the condition. "I have had many patients who have already seen TMJ dental specialists and who are using night guards and have had injections into the TMJ," said Erickson. Adding chiropractic to a team effort is most effective.

See a chiropractor if you've been in a car accident

After even a mild car accident, it is important to get a chiropractic examination for whiplash. "When the body is hit by a car or truck, you may not start to exhibit dangerous symptoms like tingling or numbness until a few days after the accident," Dr. Allen Conrad, a chiropractor based in Montgomery county, Pennsylvania, and a whiplash specialist for his group, told Health Digest.

A chiropractor will check your range of motion, and determine if there is any swelling or spasm as a result of the motor vehicle accident. "Most people are unaware that even car accidents under 10 mph can cause serious long-term problems to your neck, back, and shoulders," said Conrad. In low-speed car accidents resulting in very little damage to the vehicle, your spine may absorb more of the impact. As such, seemingly minor low-speed car accidents can sometimes cause more severe injury than a high-speed accidents.

No matter how the accident appears, it's a good idea to see a chiropractor."A whiplash injury left untreated will lead to permanent spasm, referral headaches, and spinal facet degeneration just to name a few conditions to be concerned about," confirmed Conrad.

Meet with a chiropractor if you're considering having back surgery

You can see a chiropractor before considering surgery for pain such as a disc herniation or even for post-surgery care. A study in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine showed that patients with post-op spine pain responded positively to chiropractic care.

"In some cases, chiropractic care is able to eliminate the need for surgery altogether," Dr. Daina Patel, a chronic pain chiropractor, told Health Digest. "It may also be able to better prep a patient for surgery that cannot be avoided and possibly speed up the recovery time post-surgery." Patel further explained that the chance of recurring pain post-surgery is high. However, chiropractic care both before and after surgery can help strengthen the body, speed up healing, and reduce pain.

Chiropractic care also offers good news for those concerned about opioid addiction. According to a 2013 study out of Boston University, "Patients who received initial treatment from chiropractors or physical therapists had decreased odds of short-term and long-term opioid use compared with those who received initial treatment from primary care physicians."

If your joints feel stiff, consult a chiropractor

There are many reasons your joints might feel stiff. The most common is the onset of arthritis, particularly rheumatoid arthritis, which develops between the ages of 30 and 60. Other causes include osteoarthritis, lupus, bursitis, gout and bone cancer (via Healthline). With so many possibilities, it makes sense to seek the care of a specialist trained in the care and maintenance of joint health.

"Chiropractors are educated to evaluate extremity joints: shoulders, elbows, wrists, fingers, hips, knees, ankles, feet, and toes," Dr. Karen Erickson, a New York-based chiropractor and spokesperson for the American Chiropractic Association, told Health Digest. While medical doctors use exams, imaging, surgery, physical therapy, and medication, chiropractors can evaluate joint function and, when appropriate, adjust joints to restore function. They can also recommend supplements, bracing, taping, therapeutic exercise, ergonomic changes, and orthotics.

"In my practice, I have seen chiropractic care play an important role in maintaining normal function for people who were on the road to developing arthritis in their hands or feet," said Erickson. "I have observed that once degeneration is extensive, reversal is not always an option. This is one case where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

Keep waking up with a stiff neck? See a chiropractor

Ever just wake up and feel like you can't move your neck without severe pain? That kind of neck pain, often referred to as having a crick in your neck or having a stiff neck, is the result of your neck being in the "wrong" position for an extended period of time or being stretched abnormally (via Healthline).

"In the vast majority of people, it's routine muscle strain and sprain," Dr. Robert Shmerling, associate professor of medicine at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, told Harvard Men's Health Watch. "The neck has to support that heavy bowling ball on top."

Oftentimes, a pinched nerve is sending the brain a pain message that the strain has caused. "This is usually a vertebra out of its normal position accompanied by a pretty painful muscle spasm," Dr. Matthew Durham, a South Carolina-based chiropractor, told Health Digest. "An adjustment and some electric muscle stimulation usually gets some relief pretty quick."

If you sit in front of screens all day, it's time to see a chiropractor

Sitting down in front of screens occupies the vast majority of our awake time. We sit before screens for school and work, and when we relax, we sit for more screen time. Modern ergonomics affect our posture, according to Harvard's Healthbeat. And chiropractors are posture experts.

"Good posture isn't a moral issue, it is a healthcare issue," Dr. Karen Erickson, a New York-based chiropractor and spokesperson for the American Chiropractic Association, confirmed in an interview with Health Digest. "Poor posture causes muscle imbalance, prematurely degenerates joints and discs, decreases respiratory capacity, and can cause back pain, neck pain and degeneration." But a good chiropractor can give you advice to improve ergonomics related to sitting, standing, and sleeping posture.

"Chiropractors are well educated in proper posture and computer workspace ergonomics," Dr. Allen Conrad, a chiropractor based in Montgomery county, Pennsylvania, told Health Digest. "Your chiropractor can help identify what muscles are being affected by poor posture, and recommend ergonomics workspace computer changes to help improve your posture." If left untreated, however, poor posture from repetitive computer work can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, spinal degeneration, and shoulder impingement syndrome, according to Dr. Conrad.

Book an appointment with a chiropractor if you've been losing your balance

Natural joint degeneration and muscle loss comes with age, but chiropractic care can enable people to maintain function so they can continue to exercise and perform their normal activities of daily living.

"As a chiropractor, I notice whether patients are showing even the earliest signs of compensation," Dr. Karen Erickson, a New York-based chiropractor and spokesperson for the American Chiropractic Association, told Health Digest. You may experience a sprain or strain as your body attempts to compensate for your loss of balance. According to Dr. Erickson, a goal of chiropractic is to restore or maintain normal function of the body, which includes flexibility, muscle tone and stamina, and coordination and balance.

Losing your balance could also lead to falling and thus injury. And, with a general loss of balance and flexibility, you tighten up, shortening or contracting your muscles, which aggravates the problem. You even risk "permanent loss of range of motion," Dr. Allen Conrad, a chiropractor based in Montgomery county, Pennsylvania, told Health Digest. As such, it's a good idea to see a chiropractor if you're experiencing any issues in the balance department.

See a chiropractor if you're experiencing low back pain

An estimated 85 percent of people have seen a doctor for severe back pain, according to Harvard Health Blog. Studies have shown it's a big — and expensive — disability worldwide. People don't just look to their primary care physicians for treatment, though. Seeing a chiropractor for lower back pain is also common (via U.S. News & World Report). And that's a good thing on several levels, especially since chiropractic care can reduce pain and improve functioning, as shown in a 2017 study published in JAMA. "Chiropractors have a lot of experience treating back pain, particularly low back pain," William J. Lauretti, a chiropractor and spokesman for the American Chiropractic Association, told U.S. News & World Report.

The most obvious cause of back pain is a pulled muscle or ligament, especially if you lift something improperly or are out of shape. But as the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke revealed, the list of other possible causes is vast, ranging from injury to congenital, degenerative, nerve, or spinal cord problems.

Additionally, non-spine sources, like kidney stones, can be a cause of low back pain. "Sometimes kidney stones can feel like intense back pain," Dr. Daina Patel, a chronic pain chiropractor, told Health Digest. "We do thorough exams in order to rule in or out diagnoses."