Chronic pain weaves an intricate web of physical distress and emotional strain. In England, chronic pain affects around 15.5 million people, with approximately 5.5 million experiencing high-impact chronic pain that hinders daily activities, while an additional 10 million contend with low-impact chronic pain, according to Versus Arthritis.
More and more people with chronic pain are swapping painkillers for chiropractic treatment as a more holistic approach to managing discomfort, including celebrities such as Lady Gaga. She sought chiropractic care to address chronic pain issues stemming from a hip injury and publicly thanked her chiropractor for helping her get back on stage.
In this post, let’s take a look at chronic pain and discover how chiropractic care can be the twist that untangles the knots of persistent discomfort.
What is Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain is more than just a feeling – it’s a mix of how your body and mind work together. Originally viewed more as a symptom than a distinct condition, our understanding of chronic pain has evolved.
Conditions like arthritis, back pain, and migraines contribute to this persistent discomfort, affecting not only the physical but also mood, movement, and daily life. Dealing with chronic pain requires a careful and thoughtful approach, with ongoing advancements in medical knowledge shaping strategies for management.
The Chiropractic Approach: Holistic Healing for Chronic Pain
Contrary to what many people think, chiropractic care goes beyond just adjusting the spine. Chiropractors take a holistic approach, looking at the overall health of the patient. This involves not only making specific adjustments but also thoroughly examining lifestyle choices, diet, and exercise routines. By addressing these interconnected factors, chiropractic care aims for a complete healing experience that goes well beyond the treatment room.
A recent pilot study conducted in the United States indicates that chiropractic care is highly effective, leading to a significant reduction in the requirement for pain medication.
The study on chronic spinal pain compared the effectiveness of a multidisciplinary pain team and chiropractic care among underserved individuals. The results showed that those receiving chiropractic care experienced greater improvement in pain and disability compared to the multidisciplinary pain team. This suggests that integrating chiropractic care into primary care settings could be a beneficial alternative, potentially reducing the need for external referrals, advanced imaging, and opioid prescriptions.
How a Chiropractor can help with Chronic Pain
Chiropractors employ a variety of methods to help patients manage chronic pain, tailoring their approach to the specific needs and conditions of each individual. Here are some common methods used by chiropractors in the context of chronic pain management:
Spinal Adjustments (Manipulation)
This is perhaps the most well-known chiropractic technique. Chiropractors use precise manual adjustments to realign the spine, aiming to alleviate pain and improve overall function. These adjustments can positively impact the nervous system, promoting better communication between the brain and the body.
Soft Tissue Manipulation
Chiropractors may employ soft tissue techniques, such as massage, to address muscle tension, reduce inflammation, and improve blood circulation. Soft tissue manipulation complements spinal adjustments and contributes to the overall relief of chronic pain.
Stretching and Exercise Prescription
Chiropractors often prescribe specific stretches and exercises to patients. These are designed to improve flexibility, strengthen supportive muscles, and enhance overall mobility. Regular, targeted exercises can contribute to long-term pain management.
Poor posture can contribute to chronic pain, especially in the neck, back, and shoulders. Chiropractors assess and correct posture issues, providing guidance on ergonomic improvements and lifestyle adjustments to promote better alignment and reduce strain on the body.
Lifestyle and Nutritional Guidance
Chiropractors recognise the impact of lifestyle factors and nutrition on overall health and chronic pain. They may offer advice on ergonomic changes at home or work, recommend dietary modifications, and provide guidance on stress management to create a holistic approach to pain management.
In addition to spinal adjustments, chiropractors may use joint mobilisation techniques to improve the range of motion in specific joints. This can be particularly beneficial for conditions involving joints other than the spine.
Chiropractors may use various therapeutic modalities such as ultrasound, electrical stimulation, or cold laser therapy to complement other treatment methods. These modalities can help reduce inflammation, promote healing, and manage pain.
Acupuncture (Dry Needling)
Some chiropractors incorporate acupuncture into their practice. Acupuncture involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body to stimulate energy flow and promote pain relief. It is often used as a complementary therapy for chronic pain management.
Chiropractors play a crucial role in educating patients about their condition, contributing factors, and the importance of proactive self-care. This empowers patients to actively participate in their own pain management and make informed lifestyle choices.
More specifically, our Clinic Director, Martin Young, has a wealth of experience in educating patients and chiropractors about managing chronic pain. Martin was an inaugural Fellow of the Royal College of Chiropractors’s Faculty of Pain and has been involved in delivering postgraduate education on the subject to chiropractors, as well as giving expert opinions.
It’s essential to note that chiropractors take a personalised approach, considering the unique circumstances of each patient. We may use a combination of these methods to create a comprehensive treatment plan aimed at addressing the root causes of chronic pain and improving overall well-being.
Quick tips for Managing Chronic Pain yourself
1. Prioritise Exercise
The top tip from the NHS is to prioritise regular exercises like walking, swimming, or yoga to prevent stiffness and build muscle strength. Physical activity is key to managing chronic pain and maintaining overall well-being.
2. Continue to Work
Stay engaged in work, as it can be a helpful distraction from pain and combat feelings of loneliness and depression. If you’re returning to work, do this gradually, seeking support from your supervisor, therapist, or employer to ensure a smooth transition.
3. Explore Chiropractic
Consider chiropractic as a valuable resource for managing chronic pain. Chiropractors can use manipulation, stretching exercises, and pain-relief techniques tailored to your needs, enhancing mobility and making daily tasks more manageable.
4. Use Painkillers Sparingly
If necessary, use painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen following recommended doses. It’s crucial to approach pain medication cautiously, considering potential side effects and consulting with healthcare professionals for guidance.
5. Explore Heat Therapy
Incorporate heat lamps and equipment into your pain management routine. Heat therapy can provide soothing relief, helping to relax muscles and alleviate discomfort.
6. Mind-Body Techniques
Embrace meditation and guided relaxation techniques. These practices can offer relief from pain and contribute to mental well-being, promoting a sense of calm and resilience.
7. Somatic Tracking
Explore somatic tracking as a therapeutic approach for managing chronic pain. This technique, explained in detail here by Mental Health Today, focuses on connecting the mind and body, potentially aiding in trauma recovery and overall pain management.
These self-management strategies aim to empower individuals dealing with chronic pain, providing a holistic approach that addresses physical, emotional, and mental aspects of well-being. Always consult with healthcare professionals for personalised advice tailored to your specific situation.
How Chiropractic Care Clinics can help
Our clinics in Yeovil, Crewkerne, and Beaminster offer various services, such as chiropractic, aromatherapy, remedial and sports massages. Whether you’re on a path to recovery, maintaining optimal health, or exploring alternative treatment methods, we can open the door to a more balanced and vibrant life.
We pride ourselves on taking a holistic approach, with a range of therapeutic options beyond traditional spinal adjustments. Collaborating with other wellness disciplines, such as physical therapy and massage, we provide a comprehensive patient-centred experience.
Empowering you with knowledge about your condition and proactive self-care, we actively engage in preventive methods, offering regular check-ups and ongoing support to address current issues and prevent future ones, fostering sustained well-being.
For advice on managing chronic pain, or about any of our services, feel free to contact us. We’re here to help!