Understanding Chiropractic Care for Chronic Pain


If you're one of the millions who suffer from chronic pain, you know how debilitating it can be. It's a constant companion, always there, always reminding you of its presence. You've probably tried everything to find relief - from over-the-counter meds to prescription painkillers, maybe even surgery. But have you considered chiropractic care? Chiropractic care is so much more than just cracking backs. It's a holistic approach to health that focuses on the relationship between the body's structure (primarily the spine) and its function.

At its core, chiropractic care is based on the belief that the body has an innate ability to heal itself. Chiropractors use a variety of techniques, including spinal manipulation, to restore proper function to the nervous system and promote healing. But it's not just about the spine. Chiropractors also look at the whole person, taking into account factors like lifestyle, diet, and stress levels. They work to identify the root cause of the problem, rather than just treating the symptoms.

The Effectiveness of Chiropractic Care in Pain Management

Numerous studies have shown that chiropractic care can be effective in treating a wide range of conditions, including chronic pain. Dr. Jeremy Coffey, a chiropractor at Western Reserve Hospital, has had a great deal of success helping patients with chronic pain. He explains that there are multiple aspects of chronic pain, including muscle spasms and inflammation. Chiropractic care can work to decrease these muscle spasms and increase the range of motion, which helps decrease chronic pain. 
Dr. Coffey says that "the kinds of chronic pain most effectively treated with chiropractic care are joint related...neck, back, hips, shoulders." Chiropractic care will "loosen up the muscles in that area...and help mobilize those joints and allow those joints to function in the way they're meant to function." But how does it work? Well, chiropractic adjustments help to restore proper alignment and function to the spine and other joints in the body. This can help to reduce pain and inflammation, improve range of motion, and promote healing.

Benefits of Chiropractic Care

  • Pain Relief: Chiropractic adjustments can help reduce pain by restoring proper alignment and improving the function of the musculoskeletal system.
  • Improved mobility: By realigning the spine and other joints, chiropractic care can improve mobility and range of motion.
  • Reduced Dependence on Medication: Regular chiropractic care offers a non-invasive and drug-free alternative to pain management.
  • Enhanced Body Function: Chiropractic adjustments can help improve the body's systems.
  • Personalized Treatments: Chiropractors often use a personalized approach, tailoring treatments to the individual needs and conditions of their patients.

Tailoring Chiropractic Treatments to Individual Needs

One of the advantages of chiropractic care is that it's not a one-size-fits-all approach. Every patient is unique, with their own specific needs and goals. That's why chiropractors take the time to get to know their patients and develop personalized treatment plans. When you first visit a chiropractor, they'll typically start with a thorough health history and physical examination. They'll ask about your symptoms, your lifestyle, and any other health concerns you may have. They may also use diagnostic tools like X-rays or MRI scans to get a better picture of what's going on inside your body. 

From there, they'll develop a customized treatment plan based on your specific needs. Dr. Coffey emphasizes that communication is key, and in chiropractic care, "you're talking to the person who you're working on, so discussing and figuring out where that pain is coming from can individualize how you treat that pain and how you care for that individual."

Common Chiropractic Treatments for Chronic Pain

So what exactly does a chiropractic treatment for chronic pain look like? Well, it can vary depending on the individual, but there are some common techniques that chiropractors use. One of the most well-known is spinal manipulation, also known as chiropractic adjustment. This involves applying a controlled force to a specific joint in the spine to restore proper alignment and function. It's often accompanied by a popping or cracking sound, which is actually just gas being released from the joint. Other common techniques include:

  • Joint mobilization: Gentle, rhythmic movements to improve the range of motion in a joint
  • Traction: Stretching the spine to relieve pressure on compressed nerves
  • Myofascial release: Applying pressure to tight or knotted muscles to relieve tension and pain
  • Massage: Manipulating soft tissues to improve circulation and reduce muscle tension

The specific techniques used will depend on the patient's individual needs and preferences. But the goal is always the same: to reduce pain, improve function, and promote healing.

Integrating Chiropractic Care with Other Treatments

Chiropractic care is generally considered very safe, with a low risk of serious complications. Dr. Coffey emphasizes that for those with chronic pain, chiropractic care can be "that first line of defense, where it doesn't have that many risks or aspects that are going to aggravate the pain," which makes it an effective step toward pain relief. This also allows chiropractic to be easily integrated with additional treatments for chronic pain. 

In fact, many chiropractors work closely with other healthcare providers, such as physicians, physical therapists, and psychologists, to provide comprehensive care for their patients. For example, a patient with chronic low back pain may receive chiropractic adjustments to improve spinal function, while also working with a physical therapist to strengthen their core muscles and improve their posture. They may also work with a psychologist to develop coping strategies for managing pain and stress. The beauty of this integrative approach is that it addresses the whole person, not just their symptoms. By working together, Dr. Coffey says "we can go down parallel paths toward the same goal" of improving quality of life by eliminating chronic pain. 

Importance of Movement and Exercise

When it comes to managing chronic pain, chiropractic care is just one piece of the puzzle. The best chiropractors know that to truly help their patients find relief, they need to address lifestyle factors too. That's why, when you visit a chiropractor for chronic pain, they'll likely give you some homework in the form of lifestyle changes. 

One of the most important lifestyle changes your chiropractor may recommend is incorporating more movement and exercise into your daily routine. When you're dealing with chronic pain, the last thing you probably want to do is move around. But as counterintuitive as it may seem, physical activity is crucial for managing pain. Exercise helps to strengthen the muscles that support your joints, improve flexibility and range of motion, and boost circulation. Plus, when you exercise regularly, your body releases endorphins - nature's pain relievers.

Of course, when you're in pain, it can be hard to know where to start with exercise. That's where your chiropractor comes in. They can guide you in adopting a safe and effective exercise routine that takes your specific condition and limitations into account. They may recommend low-impact activities like walking, swimming, or yoga to start. As you build strength and endurance, you can gradually add in more challenging exercises. The key is to start slow and listen to your body. Your chiropractor may also teach you specific stretches and exercises to do at home between adjustments. 

Addressing Joint-Related Chronic Pain Conditions

Chiropractor patient manipulation

If you're dealing with a joint-related chronic pain condition like neck pain or back pain, chiropractic care can be especially effective. One of the most common techniques chiropractors use for joint pain is spinal manipulation, also known as an adjustment. During an adjustment, the chiropractor uses their hands to apply a controlled force to a specific joint, usually in the spine. Dr. Coffey explains that this biomechanical approach to chronic pain works to restore proper alignment and increase the range of motion in the joint, which can decrease related muscle spasms as well as the inflammatory response, providing pain relief.

But adjustments are just one tool in the chiropractor's toolbox. Dr. Coffey stresses the importance of muscle-related treatments in addition to joint-focused techniques. These treatments may include mobilization, muscle release, or massage to address the muscular aspects of chronic pain. The specific techniques they use will depend on your individual needs and condition. For example, if you have chronic neck pain, your chiropractor may use a combination of adjustments, neck exercises, and soft tissue work to help relieve tension and restore normal function to the joints and muscles in your neck.

With an eye on long-term relief from chronic pain in your joints or back, choosing chiropractic means hitting some of the root causes head-on. By restoring proper alignment and movement to your joints, chiropractors can help reduce inflammation, relieve pressure on nerves, and promote healing. Of course, chiropractic care is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to managing joint-related chronic pain. Your chiropractor will likely also recommend lifestyle changes like exercise, stretching, and ergonomic modifications to help support your recovery. For those of us wrestling with endless neck or back pain, stepping into a chiropractor’s office is likely a smart move toward recovery. With their specialized knowledge and techniques, they can help you find relief and get back to living your life to the fullest.

Why Choose Dr. Coffey and Western Reserve Hospital?

Western Reserve Hospital provides chiropractic care as a part of comprehensive treatment plans that are highly effective in managing chronic pain. Dr. Coffey uses a multi-disciplinary approach, working with specialists in various areas of care depending on patients' needs, to ensure patients receive the best possible care. 

Looking for chiropractic treatment for chronic pain? Reach out to Dr. Coffey to set up a consultation to explore chiropractic care as a part of your treatment plan.