Until recent years, chiropractics was regarded with skepticism by traditional medicine. But like many alternative treatments, chiropractics has been around for centuries in one form or another. Here in the United States, chiropractics was popularized by Daniel David Palmer in the late 1800s. Palmer believed that the body had a powerful ability to heal itself, and that this ability was sustained by the proper flow of impulses coming from the nerves. Any misalignment of the spine, however, disrupted this flow. If an organ didn't receive the normal supply of impulses, it became diseased. Manipulating the spine therefore helped to correct the misalignment and bring about healing.
Today, chiropractics has become popular for the treatment of pain, especially lower back pain. But it can also improve headache pain, temporomandibular joint disorder, and chronic myofascial pain. Some people visit chiropractors for reasons besides musculoskeletal pain, such as preventing colds, alleviating allergies, and improving body mechanics.
Despite its growing acceptance, not everyone is convinced that chiropractics works. In fact, some say the evidence for its efficacy in the treatment of fibromyalgia is weak. Whether it will work for you will depend on how fibromyalgia is affecting you. Some people may find that while chiropractics does not alleviate pain, it can relieve fatigue and improve sleep.
Seeing a Chiropractor
Chiropractors are not medical doctors; rather, they receive a doctor of chiropractic degree upon graduating from an accredited school. On your first visit, you'll provide a patient history and undergo a physical exam. When the chiropractor does an actual treatment, he will do an adjustment using his hands. These adjustments involve applying a controlled sudden force to the joint, often the spine. Afterwards, you may notice some discomfort, but many people say they feel better after a visit to the chiropractor.
A chiropractic visit may not be the best treatment if you're suffering from neck pain. A technique known as cervical spinal manipulation, or neck cracking, has been linked to an increased risk for stroke. If you do suffer from neck pain, talk to your doctor about other treatments, such as analgesics or exercise.
To find a good chiropractor, ask around for a referral. There are about 50,000 licensed chiropractors in the United States. Make sure the chiropractor attended an accredited college and is licensed to practice in your state.
The effectiveness of chiropractors varies widely. Some can help fibro patients significantly, while others manhandle them and leave them much worse than before the treatment. Be sure that you find one who has helped other fibro patients.
Some people, like Alison, found relief with a chiropractor who did motion palpation.
The first chiropractor Alison saw never adjusted her at all and instead told her she was 85 percent disabled and that there was nothing he could do. Three years later, still in excruciating pain, Alison tried another chiropractor, who told her he'd never seen so many locked up joints in his life. The second chiropractor then went from joint to joint, and adjusted each one. For Alison, the right chiropractor greatly reduced her fibro pain and improved her mobility.
Not everyone, however, is a candidate for chiropractics. If you have a recent fracture, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, or neurological problems, you should avoid chiropractors. Also, chiropractors are not eligible to prescribe medications, but they may suggest other alternative therapies such as heat and ice, homeopathy, and dietary supplements.