Is It Safe To See A Chiropractor?
Mary had been having back pain and some tingling into her left leg for awhile now. She was thinking she may have had sciatica as her sister had something similar and was told that. After a month, the pain and tingling was not getting better and started affecting her ability to work as a cashier, so she went to see her chiropractor.
After testing her, her chiropractor explained that she did in fact have sciatica because of problems in her back, pelvis and hip. She did not have any secondary issues such as balance or coordination difficulties and had no trouble with washroom functions.
Mary was treated by her chiropractor. After 3 weeks, her leg tingling was no longer there and she only had a bit of stiffness in her back after a busier day at work.
After Your Adjustment
Chiropractic care is very safe and effective in helping you deal with a variety of injuries and health issues. Most people respond well to chiropractic treatment. Sometimes after an adjustment, you may feel some discomfort after your visit which can include things such as:
- Increase in pain
Part of your healing process
While uncomfortable, these sensations usually go away after 2-3 days and are nothing to be concerned about. They are often part of your healing process. Just like you would feel similar sensations after having done a particular exercise for the first time. You may experience some discomfort for a few days after your adjustment.
This also applies to when you receive chiropractic care. One reason is that after your adjustment, your body, joints and muscles are moving in directions and ranges they have not moved in for awhile, hence the post-adjustment discomfort you sometimes feel. One thing you can try to relieve these symptoms is to either use ice on the area for 15-20 minutes or do some gentle, simple movements of the sore area.
Two issues patients sometimes wonder about include strokes and disc injuries.
When it comes to stroke, the research has shown time and time again that there is no scientific basis to an adjustment causing a stroke. Instead, the link between strokes and adjustments is more of a temporal one, meaning there a time-relationship.
Every day, patients visit their chiropractor because they are having some trouble either with neck pain or headache.
For example, if you were ever involved in a motor vehicle accident you might start feeling soreness in your neck, upper back and sometimes headache as some of your symptoms. Usually, the cause of your pains is because of joint and muscle sprains and strains in your neck and upper back. There is little concern in these cases.
On rare occasions though, the cause of a patient’s neck pain and headache is due to a developing stroke or a stroke that is already happening. It is in these cases that it is important to recognize the difference. The patient would then be referred to the proper healthcare facility for further testing.
By asking you questions about your symptoms and how they came about, and through having your perform specific examinations and tests, your chiropractor can help you understand whether what you are feeling is simply a joint or muscle issue or something that needs more testing.
A study published in a well-respected medical journal compared a person’s risk of stroke after visiting a chiropractor versus visiting their family doctor. Most family doctors do not perform adjustments. The rates were virtually the same. What this means is that adjustments have nothing to do with it. Instead, it was actually the patient’s presenting condition that predicted if they were at risk of having a stroke. (Spine. 2008;33(45):S176-S183)
When it comes to disc injuries, there is a very small chance that an adjustment can exacerbate an existing disc problem. Whenever a patient presents with either back pain with leg symptoms, or neck pain with arm symptoms, we have to consider whether or not they have a disc or nerve injury.
If there is no issue with your nerves and discs, there is no risk of disc injury for you in getting adjusted and receiving chiropractic care.
However, if there is already a pre-existing nerve or disc problem, sometimes they will not come with any signs or symptoms. If this is the case, then there is a small chance that an adjustment can speed up the breakdown of that disc. Studies and research have found that risk to be about 1:3,700,000. Some of the signs to look out for include trouble with bladder or bowel function, increasing symptoms down your leg or significant numbness around your pelvis.
Risks from regular daily activities
At the same time, the disc itself could breakdown from even everyday normal activities such as picking up a towel or washing your hair (JMPT 2004; 27(3):197-210).
To get a better idea of the condition of your discs, your chiropractor may:
- ask you questions about how well you can move about your day
- talk with you about any balance or coordination issues
- test your reflexes and ask you about your ability to go to the washroom
- have you do certain movements and test to get a better idea of the condition of your discs
Your answers and your test results will help determine what the best treatment approach would be. This could be to start chiropractic care or it might be for example to schedule some testing such as an xray, CT scan or MRI.
Relative to other health professionals, chiropractors enjoy some of the lowest malpractice insurance rates due to the overall safety and effectiveness of chiropractic care
Still Have Questions Or Need Some Help?
If you are still not sure whether you would be a good candidate for chiropractic care or the risks, you can always speak with your chiropractor. They will help answer your questions and give you the information you need to make the best decision for your health
Results will of course vary from patient to patient.