Recently I noticed a recurrence of some mild neck and right shoulder pain, with less mobility in my neck than I’m used to. I noticed it hurt to turn my neck all the way to the right and left (to check blind spots while driving, for instance). There was some tightness of the muscles of my right upper back as well.
So… Off I went to see my chiropractor again. I’m a bit of a slow learner about some things, you see. I know in my head that regular treatments are helpful for keeping the body healthy, but actually making time in the schedule for it is a challenge sometimes.
As I was talking with Dr. Schmidt at Pleasant Valley Chiropractic yesterday, I was thinking about not much more than getting rid of this discomfort in my neck and upper back. He’s helped me before and will definitely do it again. Then I was wondering why more people with neck and back pain don’t see chiropractors.
Unfortunately manual therapies like chiropractic therapy have a little bit of a bad rap in the USA. Health care is dominated by western medicine and if a therapy doesn’t involve cutting the problem out or drugging it away, western medicine doesn’t have much use for it.
So what are manual therapies, and do they work? Manual therapies involve a practitioner using parts of their bodies (usually the hands, but sometimes other parts such as elbows, knees, or feet) to treat, influence or change parts of the patient’s body.
Examples of manual therapy are massage, chiropractic therapy, osteopathic manipulation (OMT), physical therapy, and reiki. The laying on of hands in manual therapy is a powerful treatment in its own right. When a skilled therapist uses touch to soothe tight muscles, realign spinal vertebrae, or encourage healthy energy flow, the improvement can be startling.
What does the science say about manual therapy? Since I am committed to advocating and promoting evidenced based treatments, I looked into the evidence. Manual therapy is helpful for neck and back pain, headache, recurrent otitis media in children, colic in babies, preterm delivery, Parkinson’s disease, and even heart attack patients.
What can you expect if you decide to see a chiropractor or other manual therapist? It depends on the problem you’re addressing. As with other practitioners it’s important to be clear from the first visit about your goals for therapy. What’s wrong? What do you want done about it? How often can you expect to see the practitioner? What will you feel? How long will it take to see results?
It is also important to remember that manual therapy practitioners are people just like anyone else. Most of them are good. Some are excellent and a few are quacks. Get recommendations from friends or family or check with the practitioner’s regulating body before making an appointment. If your condition isn’t improving like it should, don’t hesitate to get a second opinion.
Manual therapy is an excellent addition to a holistic approach to wellness. Give it a try and experience the healing touch!