I know that chiropractic medicine is a bit controversial. Even WebMD, the end-all-be-all of self-diagnosis, seems a little bit leery in their description of the practice.
Chiropractic is a hands-on therapy based on the theory that subluxations in the spine may cause many medical disorders (especially disorders of the nervous system). Chiropractic medicine originated in the late 1800s in the United States.
Say what you want about your local D.C. But the truth is, I buy it.
Not to the extent that some might – for instance, I don’t expect my chiropractor to be my primary-care physician, I don’t expect spinal manipulations to affect completely un-related topics such as my performance at work, or even my sleeping habits. My expectations are narrow in scope, and for that reason I am not disappointed.
I think the reason why chiropractic medicine seems to be working for my pain is many-fold:
1. I run. Anyone who has ever run with me will tell you that my form is…distinct. This particular method of getting me from Point A to Point B puts particular pressure on my lower back. This pressure actually caused two hairline cracks (read: pars stress fractures) in my L5 vertebrae my sophomore year of college. (Wearing a brace around campus for an entire semester was loads of fun. I highly recommend it.) In short, while many runners feel pain related to exertion, mine is primarily based on my spinal structure. (Lame if you ask me.)
2. I am very familiar with the treatment methods used in chiropractic care, outside of spinal adjustment. Heat, electronic muscle stimulation, and trigger point therapy are all treatments I experienced almost daily in college, thanks to a staff of certified athletic trainers. Even though chiropractic therapy is not designed specifically for athletes, it employs very similar methods. I could see how other people might be completely freaked out by the thought of being hooked up to little pads that send electric shocks through your muscles for a prolonged period of time. I must be a total nutcase, because I schedule appointments on my lunch break specifically because I find it incredibly relaxing.
3. In addition to my running-related pain, my profession is just as much to blame for my discomfort. I sit at a desk for at least 8 hours a day. Maybe I’ve chosen chiropractic care because I’d feel silly walking into a different office complaining of pain due to sitting all day. But at least they get it – instead of prescribing anti-inflammatories like candy, they’re doing something about it.
4. I have a bit of a joint cracking problem. At least a few times a day, I go for the full spinal crrrrrack. If nothing else, the controlled environment of chiropractic adjustments is helping to break me of this terrible habit.
Is chiropractic care a cure-all? Nah. If I have any kind of acute injury, you’d better believe I’ll be headed straight to my local MD’s office. But for these long-standing aches…it appears to be working. Maybe they’re sucking me in with the power of the voodoo, but so far I don’t mind much.