Is Chiropractic Care Helpful or Harmful?

People suffering from back pain may not know whether to consult a doctor or a chiropractor for their care. You probably know someone who swears their chiropractor alleviated their back pain via spinal manipulation.

There is no question some patients benefit from chiropractic care, but there are risk factors in the chiropractic setting that do not exist in traditional medicine. Contact a skilled doctor to discuss all of your options for treatment.

Non-Musculoskeletal Conditions

Chiropractors cannot treat non-musculoskeletal conditions, yet such conditions cause many episodes of back pain, especially chronic cases. This includes herniated discs, pinched nerves and other issues unrelated to the muscles or skeletal system.

Before considering spinal manipulation, it is wise to have a complete examination first by a medical doctor to detect any such causes of back pain.

Cauda Equina Syndrome

Latin for “horse’s tail,” the cauda equina are nerve roots at the end of the spinal cord. Cauda equina syndrome generally results from a spinal tumor, disc herniation or fracture.

It can also result from too much compression during a chiropractic manipulation. Symptoms include loss of bladder and bowel control and numbness in the legs and pelvic girdle.

In a worst-case scenario, cauda equina syndrome can result in loss of sexual function, paralysis, and permanent loss of bladder and bowel control.

Chiropractic Stroke

Neck adjustments by a chiropractor are particularly risky.  Nearly one-third of chiro patients experience an adverse reaction after neck manipulation, usually pain and stiffness.

Even worse, the American Heart Association warns that “Manipulating the neck has been associated with cervical dissection, a type of arterial tear that can lead to stroke.” This type of stroke is more common in younger and middle-aged adults.

Chiropractic Contraindications

Chiropractic is contraindicated for certain patients with back pain. One problem is that such patients may not have received a proper diagnosis before visiting the chiropractor, putting them in potential danger. Patients diagnosed with the following conditions should never seek chiropractic treatment:

  • Herniated disc
  • Osteoporosis
  • Spinal instability
  • Tingling or numbness in the leg or arm
  • Any factor – such as high blood pressure – that may increase stroke risk.

Chiropractors are Not Licensed Physicians

A chiropractic doctor is not a fully licensed physician, even though they do undergo four years of training at a chiropractic college.

No postgraduate training is necessary, unlike the one year of internship and two to eight years of residency training – depending on specialty – required of medical doctors.

Chiropractors cannot prescribe medication, so a back pain patient who could benefit from muscle relaxants, antidepressants or prescription pain medication is out of luck.

Contact Tampa Bay Back Pain Doctors Today

If you suffer from back pain, call a doctor today and make an appointment for evaluation and treatment.