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Chiropractic Adjustments Help with Pain Relief

Chiropractic Adjustments Help with Pain Relief

Johns Hopkins Medicine defines pain as “an uncomfortable feeling that tells you something may be wrong.” Depending on its cause, this feeling can range from being mildly annoying to absolutely debilitating in nature, potentially preventing a person from having any quality of life whatsoever. Additionally, some pains are constant and steady, whereas others tend to come and go.

Regardless of the type, intensity, and consistency of the pain, at some point in our lives, we all experience this feeling in one form or another. However, whether or not we’re able to effectively handle it is largely determined by our individual pressure pain thresholds. In other words, the higher our thresholds, the less impact these pains have on our lives, and one fairly new study has found that chiropractic may just increase that limit.

In December of 2016, Chiropractic & Manual Therapies published a piece of research which set out to determine what effect, if any, spinal manipulation therapy (SMT) had on pressure pain threshold. Individuals were recruited from Murdoch University campus in Western Australia and, ultimately, 34 subjects ranging in age from 18 to 36 qualified for inclusion. Twenty of the participants were male, with the remaining 14 being female, all of whom were assessed at the beginning of the study and declared asymptomatic.

Using an algometer with a 1cm2 rubber probe, the participants’ deep mechanical pain sensitivity was assessed multiple times at four different sites on the body (calf, lumbar, scapula, and forehead) by asking each one to indicate the point in which the pressure turned into pain. The average of the second and third recordings was used as a baseline.

Once the initial data was recorded, each participant was then subjected to a high-velocity, low-amplitude spinal manipulation using the hypothenar mammillary push while the subject lay on his or her side. Furthermore, the thrust was aimed at the portion of the participants’ spine located between the L5 and S1 vertebrae. Upon completion, the pressure pain threshold was collected again, and then again at 10, 20, and 30 minutes after the conclusion of the treatment session.

Researchers found that, after engaging in just one session of SMT, subjects reported increases in pressure pain threshold in the calf and lumbar spine areas, with no notable reduction in the scapula or forehead. Additionally, the thresholds that did increase did so at a higher rate on the right side of the participants’ bodies than on the left.

This study shows promise for patients dealing with chronic pain issues as chiropractic adjustments seem to provide an instantaneous reduction in pain. Further research with a larger group of test subjects is warranted.

Dorron SL, Losco BE, Drummond PD, Walker BF. Effect of lumbar spinal manipulation on local and remote pressure pain threshold and pinprick sensitivity in asymptomatic individuals: a randomized trial. Chiropractic & Manual Therapies 2016;24:47.10.1186/s12998-016-0128-5

What is Pain/Types of Pain Treated?  Johns Hopkins Medicine: Blaustein Pain Treatment Center.

Overcome the Fear of Movement After Auto Injury! Find out why… Author: Michael Melton No Comments Share:

Overcome the Fear of Movement After Auto Injury! Find out why… Author: Michael Melton No Comments Share:

Imagine what happens when you injure your neck in an auto injury…

Your muscles contract, there’s a burst of pain, and a soreness that makes you want to avoid moving your neck too much or turning too far. You may worry about re-injuring yourself or you may think, “I could do more harm than good by moving my neck.” Unfortunately, not moving your neck after an auto injury can actually be worse for your recovery, especially for people after a car accident.

A new study examined the effects of fear of movement on neck disability and range of motion in 98 patients after a car crash!

While the patients’ injuries ranged in severity, all of the patients had pain for under a month and all were injured in an auto collision. Researchers measured patients’ levels of fear using two different scales. They also examined neck range of motion and degree of neck disability. Patients were evaluated after one, three, and six months after the injury.

Patients who were more afraid to move their neck had more severe neck disability and reduced range of motion. Increased fear also prolonged the symptoms. In contrast, patients with lower levels of fear were more likely recover before the six month follow up.

Maintaining movement after an injury does more than just reduce anxiety. It also ensures that tissues don’t become more tense, restricted or damaged. Chiropractic can help you with recovery, because chiropractic works by restoring the normal movement and function of your neck and back.


If you’ve been in a car crash, don’t wait to get treatment. It’s important to get your spine moving again as soon as possible! Chiropractic can help you on the path to recovery! If you are in a car accident, be sure to call our office and schedule an appointment with Dr. Oblander to make sure that you are getting the appropriate treatment you need and to make sure you get the best possible care.

This article was written by Michael Melton and is shared from the following website:

What is “Referred Pain”?

What is “Referred Pain”?

Billings Chiropractor“Referred pain” can be a perplexing phenomenon for anyone who experiences it. Referred pain is what happens when you feel pain in an area of your body that is not actually the original source of the pain signals. The most common example of referred pain is when pain is felt in the left arm, neck or jaw of a person suffering a heart attack, while they often have no feelings of pain in the chest area itself.

It’s important to note that referred pain is different from radiating pain, in which the pain felt in one area travels down a nerve, causing pain along the length of the nerve. This is often the case with sciatica, where pain originates in the lower back and radiates down the leg.

Researchers are still not exactly sure what causes referred pain. Some experts believe that it is due to a mix-up in nerve messaging. The central nervous system (CNS) is constantly receiving a barrage of different messages from different parts of the body. These messages may get mixed up somewhere along the path between the place where the irritated nerve is signaling and the spinal cord or brain where pain signals are processed. With an extensive network of interconnected sensory nerves that serve the same region of the body, such as the nerves of the lower back, thighs and hips, it may be more common for signals to get mixed up than you might imagine.

Although referred pain is usually felt as painful, it can also cause feelings of numbness, tingling or the sensation of pins and needles. Another example of referred pain is a tension headache, in which headache pain is due to an irritation of the nerves in the neck.

Referred pain tends not to cross sides of the body. In other words, if the pain signals are originating in the liver or gallbladder (which are on the right side of the body), you may feel pain in your right shoulder. If the signals originate in the pancreas (on the left of the body), you may feel pain in your left shoulder, etc.

Chiropractic adjustments can address the source of the referred pain, leading to long-term pain relief. Nerves in the area of the spinal cord that are irritated due to a spinal misalignment (subluxation) can be a cause of referred pain. When your chiropractor adjusts your spine, he or she removes the source of irritation, thus providing relief. Dr. Oblander is a Billings Chiropractor who is very knowledgeable about which tests can be performed to determine the underlying cause of your pain (whether direct or referred), and can treat it accordingly. If you have questions or want to seek chiropractic treatment, be sure to give us a call at Oblander Chiropractic: 406-652-3553.

Food as Medicine: Close-Up on Ginger

Food as Medicine: Close-Up on Ginger


Hippocrates gave good advice when he said “Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.” What we eat has a major effect on our health and well-being. One of the healthiest foods is ginger, which has been recognized for certain healing properties since ancient times. Ginger has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 2000 years.

The Romans discovered ginger in India and imported it to Europe, where it was used not only as medicine, but in cooking as well. Candied ginger was particularly popular (and remains so today). Ginger was so valuable during the Middle Ages that a pound of it would cost the equivalent of one sheep.

Traditionally, ginger has been used to treat all manner of digestive upset, such as nausea and diarrhea, motion sickness and morning sickness (which is why pregnant women and those with stomach aches are advised to sip ginger ale). In addition to improving circulation and reducing arthritis and muscle pain, there is also evidence in the literature suggesting that ginger may be helpful in addressing a number of other health issues, including the following:

Colon and ovarian cancer – As a powerful anti-inflammatory, a study performed by researchers at the University of Michigan medical school found that ginger reduced inflammatory markers in the colon, which are a precursor to colon cancer. In addition, when ovarian cancer cells were exposed to ginger they either committed suicide or devoured themselves. Ginger also helps keep cancer cells from becoming resistant to cancer treatment and reduces chemotherapy associated nausea by up to 40% when taken with anti-vomiting medication.

High blood pressure – Thai researchers from Chiang Mai University found ginger extract to be more effective than medication in reducing hypertension in laboratory rats.

Asthma – When purified elements of ginger were used in conjunction with the asthma medication isoproterenol, the airway smooth muscle that contracts during an asthma attack relaxed far more than when the isoproterenol alone was used. Ginger seems to have a synergistic effect on this anti-asthma medication.

Muscle pain – Taking a daily ginger supplement can reduce muscle pain caused by exercise by up to 25%, according to researchers at the University of Georgia. And over 80% of women who have painful menstrual periods can benefit from ginger supplements as well, if taken during the first three days of their period.

Migraine headache – The results of an Iranian study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research found that ginger powder is as effective as the medication sumatriptan, which is commonly used to treat migraine pain.

Liver damage caused by acetaminophen – It is commonly known that taking large amounts of Tylenol (acetaminophen) or taking it for an extended period can cause liver damage. But researchers have found that pre-treatments with ginger or taking ginger along with acetaminophen can reduce the incidence of liver damage.

Always speak with your doctor before taking ginger, since it can interact with other medications (particularly blood thinners). But including more ginger in your diet can be a great natural way of keeping healthy while adding flavor to your meals.

Best Exercises For Preventing Shin Splints

Best Exercises For Preventing Shin Splints

soccer-ball-on-shin-200-300Although you may have heard the term before, you may not know exactly what a “shin splint” is. It’s a common term for painful inflammation at the front of the tibia caused by strenuous activity. Medical professionals refer to it as medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS). The following exercises will not only help to prevent shin splints or MTSS, but the first two exercises can also help relieve some of the agony for those who are already suffering from the syndrome. If you already have shin splints, use care and restraint in performing these exercises.

Spread Toe Elevation – Stand with your heels together, toes pointed outward and rise slowly on your toes. Hold for a few moments and then lower your heels slowly to the floor. Perform ten times.

Tuck Toe Elevation – Start with your big toes together, heels spread apart, and rise slowly on your toes. Hold for a few moments and then lower your heels slowly to the floor. Perform ten times.

Edge of Oblivion – Don’t let the name scare you. By using this exercise, you can prevent future shin splints, sending them into oblivion! However, this might not be the best way to heal shin splints if you already have them. If that’s the situation you’re in, we’d suggest that you use the other two exercises instead.

  1. Find a sturdy step stool, stair or curb.
  2. Face downstairs or away from the stool or curb. Move your feet forward until only your heel is on the edge and most of your foot is dangling over empty air. For balance, hold onto the stair railing or maneuver your stool next to a wall.
  3. Start with legs straight and point your toes downward as far as they will go (without going so far as to slide off the step).
  4. Lift your toes as far as they will go.
  5. Repeat as rapidly as you can.
  6. Using a timer or watch, perform this exercise for a full 30 seconds. Make certain that you extend and flex fully each time.
  7. When done, bend your knees at a 45-degree angle and repeat 30 seconds of extensions and flexions. When done, you have completed one full set.
  8. Rest one to two minutes between sets and repeat until you’ve done three of these two-part sets.

If after the first set, you feel a burning sensation in your lower legs, then you’re likely doing it the right way. If at any point you feel damage is being done, discontinue the exercise.

Think Twice about Back Surgery

Think Twice about Back Surgery

seductive blond and wall

Back pain is incredibly common—in fact, just about every adult in the United States has experienced back pain in some form or another, and it is one of the top complaints heard in doctors’ offices and hospitals around the country. Yet the cause of any one type of back pain is one of the most difficult things to diagnose. There are many treatments for back pain, such as chiropractic, physical therapy, acupuncture, surgery, saline injections, and steroid injections, all with varying degrees of risk. According to experts, you should treat back pain conservatively—that is, you should opt for the least risky, minimally invasive treatment option first before considering treatments such as spinal surgery.

Of course, there is risk with any surgery, but failed back surgeries can be calamitous—so much so that there is a condition called “failed back surgery syndrome,” also commonly referred to as failed back syndrome. According to the University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, “Failed back syndrome is a general term that refers to chronic severe pain experienced after unsuccessful surgery for back pain. Surgery for back pain is conducted when there is an identifiable source of pain—usually to decompress a pinched nerve root or to stabilize a painful joint. However, back pain can have a number of causes and accurate identification of a source of pain is complicated; often symptoms do not correlate well with x-rays or magnetic resonance imaging scans. As a result, diagnosis and patient selection for surgery are essential.”

Failed back syndrome has a large array of causes. For example, the original source of the pain can return or complications may arise during surgery. The nerve root triggering the pain may be ineffectively decompressed, joints or nerves may become irritated during the surgical procedure, or scar tissue may compress or bind nerve roots. Additionally, nerve damage sustained during the surgery can add to already existing pain. In some cases, nerves may rejuvenate to a degree, but even this can result in pain if the regeneration is abnormal.

Numerous factors can add to the onset or advancement of failed back syndrome. Contributing causes include residual or recurrent disc herniation, persistent post-operative pressure on a spinal nerve, altered joint mobility, joint hypermobility with instability, scar tissue (fibrosis), depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, and spinal muscular deconditioning. Insufficient or unfinished rehabilitation and physical therapy, particularly in patients whose back muscles are out of shape, can cause chronic pain as well. A patient can also be susceptible to the advancement of failed back syndrome due to systemic conditions such as diabetes, autoimmune disease, and peripheral blood vessels (vascular) disease.

There are other risks of surgery as well—contamination can occur when a surgeon’s gloves have bacteria present on them, passing them to the patient and causing infections that range from mild to very severe.

As an alternative to surgery, there are steroid injections for back pain—but they aren’t always successful. Lumbar epidural steroid injections, as they are called, can help relieve pain, but they carry with them their own hazards. As puts it, “In addition to risks from the injection, there are also potential side effects from the steroid medication itself. These tend to be rare and much less prevalent than the side effects from oral steroids. Nonetheless, reported side effects from epidural steroid injections include: Localized increase in pain, non-positional headaches resolving within 24 hours, facial flushing, anxiety, sleeplessness, fever the night of injection, high blood sugar, a transient decrease in immunity because of the suppressive effect of the steroid, stomach ulcers, severe arthritis of the hips, and cataracts.”

To reduce the risk of these side effects of invasive back pain treatments, it is wise to pursue conservative therapies first. When looking at back pain treatment options, always be sure to get a second—and maybe even a third—opinion on how your back pain should be handled. If you’re looking for a drug-free, non-invasive alternative, consider chiropractic care. In addition to treating your back pain directly, your chiropractor can also act as your back-pain quarterback to coordinate care across multiple treatment methods.


Why See a Chiropractor After Symptoms are Gone?

Why See a Chiropractor After Symptoms are Gone?

Chiropractor - Gentle Neck Adjustment
Chiropractor – Gentle Neck Adjustment

At some point in your life, you’ve probably heard an acquaintance, friend or family member say something like this: “Once you start going to a chiropractor, you’ll have to keep going back forever.” Most of the time, this is meant as a caution—a warning that chiropractic care is somehow addictive, cultish or (at worst) ineffective.

As chiropractic physicians, we believe that it’s very important for our patients to understand the nature of what we do and the kind of relationship we work to build with them. We also think it’s important to explain the phenomenon that these acquaintances, friends or family members are referring to.

There are indeed many people who return to our office even after their initial symptoms have disappeared. But they don’t return because they “have to”. They return because they CHOOSE to. And patients make this choice for a variety of different reasons. Sometime the reason has to do with a chronic or recurring condition that requires ongoing or periodic attention. Sometimes it has to do with a different health issue altogether. And still other times it has to do with their overall wellness. But in every case, they return to chiropractic because it helps them feel better than they feel without it.

Whether or not you choose to return to your chiropractor for regular treatment will depend on your own physical condition as well as your broader health and wellness goals. We understand that every patient is different, and we will do our best to work with you to design a treatment plan that meets your specific needs. This is true whether your priority is short-term pain relief, physical rehabilitation or general health and wellness. Our goal is always to provide the right combination of in-office care, exercise and stretching recommendations and lifestyle counseling to help you achieve your objectives.

Of course, you don’t have to keep going back to the chiropractor after your symptoms have been resolved. But the simple truth is that those symptoms are likely to reappear at some point if you don’t address the underlying source of the problem. Over time, pain, poor joint function and other signs of bodily wear can begin to creep up again without regular maintenance.

Why Regular Chiropractic Care is Important

Going to your chiropractor for a regular checkup and any necessary treatment is really no different from visiting your dentist or eye doctor. It’s fundamentally about prevention and early detection. The wear-and-tear of everyday living (not to mention the special demands of athletics or certain professions and workplaces) can take a serious toll on your musculoskeletal system in general. And it can be especially hard on your back and neck if your general posture is compromised. Unfortunately, it can take time for the cumulative effects to become obvious and for to you to begin experiencing pain and reduced function. And by the time you do experience these, whatever problems you have may be more difficult to treat.

The keys to good musculoskeletal health (especially spinal health) are:

  • Regular exercise that maintains or improves your posture, balance, flexibility, strength and stamina. Your chiropractor can recommend a specific program that accomplishes just that.
  • A healthy diet that provides the right nutrients for growth and recovery of bones, muscles and joints.
  • A weight loss or weight management approach that reduces (or prevents) unnecessary stress and strain on your joints.
  • Good ergonomics at work and play.
  • Avoidance of unhealthy habits that have been associated with musculoskeletal problems, including excessive sitting, alcohol and smoking.
  • Regular chiropractic check-ups and treatment.

For many of our patients, chiropractic care has become an important part of their overall wellness lifestyle. It’s simply something they do for themselves and their families to protect their overall health and help them feel (and perform) at their best. If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help you, please call or visit our office today!

A Day in the Life of a Crash Test Dummy

A Day in the Life of a Crash Test Dummy


Crash test dummies. You probably don’t think about them very much (if at all), but you may owe them much more than you realize when it comes to your health and safety on the nation’s roads. Automobile makers use crash test dummies—that is, inanimate, human-like mannequins—to simulate the type and scale of injury that may occur in an automobile accident. Car and truck manufacturers go to great lengths to design and build safe vehicles, and these “full-scale anthropomorphic test devices” or “ADTs” take a real beating day after day as they provide data regarding velocity of impact, crushing force, bending, folding, or torque of the body, as well as deceleration rates during test collisions.

U.S., car accidents kill more than 30,000 people each year and injure many more. However, manufacturers work continually to make cars safer and accidents more survivable through crash-testing programs. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, from 1994 to 2009, the fatality rate decreased from 23 to 16 fatalities per 100,000 licensed drivers. Crash test dummies have played an important part in that achievement as a result of their role in car testing and design. They’ve also played an important part in reducing the severity of auto accident injuries.

In order to survive a car accident and walk away with minimal injuries, drivers and passengers must be able to withstand the changes in kinetic energy that occur when bodies in motion suddenly come to a stop or when bodies at rest are suddenly accelerated. A car’s safety features, including seat belts and air bags, are made to help mitigate the damage that these abrupt changes can cause to the human body. Crash test dummies allow safety engineers to identify how the changes in kinetic energy caused by car crashes affect the human body and its musculoskeletal system. Researchers use this data to identify areas where changes could improve a car’s safety rating. Additionally, the data is useful to gauge the effectiveness of these improvements once they have been made.

Anthropomorphic test devices, or ATDs, have become enormously sophisticated since the first crash test dummy was created. Dubbed Sierra Sam, the first ATD was made in 1949 to test how ejection seats in aircraft affected people. Today’s crash test dummies are designed to simulate human anatomy in great detail, and to respond as the human body would respond to the forces and impacts generated by auto accidents. Using a wide variety of advanced materials and sensor technologies, they can tell a researcher what types of injuries would likely have been sustained by vehicle occupants in a crash—anything from surface skin abrasions and contusions to soft tissue damage, broken bones and life-threatening internal injuries.

Combined with sensors in the test car itself and an array of slow-motion video cameras, ATDs have helped designers and engineers understand better than ever before exactly what happens in different kinds of accidents so that they can protect vehicle drivers and passengers. And there’s no doubt they’re very valuable members of the safety team—they can cost anywhere from $100,000 to $400,000!

ATDs are built in a variety of shapes and sizes to mimic human differences. However, they’re also used in ways that allow carefully controlled testing from crash scenario to crash scenario and from vehicle to vehicle. Before each test, engineers paint different parts of the crash test dummy’s body with different colors, allowing them to identify how each part of the body impacts parts of the vehicle’s interior.

Car accidents can be particularly hard on the musculoskeletal system—injuries to the back, neck, and extremities are common. Unfortunately, many of these injuries may go undetected immediately after a collision, when adrenalin is flowing and participants are generally eager to leave the scene and move on with their lives. Symptoms may appear days, weeks or even months afterward. Plus the injuries sustained in a car crash may cause a host of ongoing health complications, such as recurring headaches, neck stiffness, TMJ, dizziness and chronic back pain as well as reduced mobility.

Chiropractic physicians are specially trained to diagnose and treat the types of musculoskeletal injuries that many people suffer as a result of care accidents. If you or someone you care about has been involved in a car accident, it’s very important that they receive a prompt medical evaluation from a qualitied healthcare professional—even if they feel fine or are only experiencing minor symptoms. Detecting injuries as soon as possible often allows auto accident victims to recover more quickly and more completely, with less pain and less disability.

Have a Cold? Top Ten Tips for Getting Better Faster

Have a Cold? Top Ten Tips for Getting Better Faster

Oh No! Sick Man Checking for a FeverThe common cold: Even though Americans have over a billion colds per year, there’s nothing “common” about it when you’ve got one. The sneezing, the scratchy throat, the runny nose, the nasal congestion, and the watery eyes can make your life miserable. Even though most colds go away within three to seven days, there are steps you can take to boost your body’s immune system and help get rid of your cold sooner than that. Read on for our “Top 10 Tips” on getting over your cold quickly, consolidated from healthcare experts all over the world.

  1. First, make sure you’ve really got a cold. The symptoms listed above are those of the common cold, which is a disease of the upper respiratory tract caused by a number of different viruses. But if these symptoms are accompanied by more severe ones such as muscle aches, high fever, chills, headache, and fatigue, chances may be that it’s not a cold at all, but the flu instead. This is important to find out, because if you have a serious case of the flu, you may need to see a doctor and take an antiviral medication like Tamiflu, which can shorten the length of the outbreak. However, if you’ve got a cold, not only will the antiviral medication be ineffective, it can even weaken your immune system in the long run.
  2. Don’t “tough it out”—stay at home and get some rest. Going to work will only make your cold last longer, and you can expose all your coworkers to the virus as well. So take a few days off and give your body the rest it needs to recover and heal faster.
  3. Drink lots and lots of liquids, including—yes, really—chicken soup. Your mother’s advice to drink lots of fluids was correct, as it turns out. Research has shown that drinking warm fluids helps to relieve the most common cold symptoms and also loosens sinus secretions that cause a buildup of mucus. Hot tea or broth is a good choice, as is coffee, which has been shown to increase alertness in people with colds. And interestingly enough, the centuries-old prescription to “Have a nice bowl of chicken soup.” is also correct—it has been shown to be more hydrating and thus more beneficial than other liquids.
  4. Gargle with salt water. Gargling with 1/2 teaspoon of salt dissolved in 8 ounces of water can help to relieve your sore or scratchy throat.
  5. Use over-the-counter medications (very selectively) to deal with runny nose and coughs. A pharmacy has reliable saline nose drops or sprays and cough syrups that can help to make these cold symptoms more bearable, although they won’t make the cold go away any faster.
  6. Steam the cold away. If you have access to a steam bath, take one—or many. If you don’t, you can improvise by leaning your head over a bowl of hot water or by taking a long, steamy shower. Inhaling warm, moist air helps to loosen and thin out mucus.
  7. Boost your immune system with supplements. Research has shown that taking zinc supplements during the first couple of days may help shorten the duration of your cold and perhaps reduce its severity. But don’t take zinc on an empty stomach, and don’t use intranasal zinc nose drops or sprays; the FDA has warned that they can permanently impair your sense of smell. Vitamin C can also help to shorten colds, whether in supplement form or in fruits and vegetables. Echinacea, elderberry syrup, and raw honey have also been shown to shorten colds.
  8. Avoid smoke and polluted air. Anything that affects your ability to breathe properly is going to extend your cold.
  9. Don’t reinfect yourself or others. Practice “safe sneezing and coughing” by covering your nose and mouth and carefully discarding any tissues you use. Wash your hands often and consider using hand sanitizers to keep from infecting family, friends, coworkers, and yes, even yourself. If you contracted the cold at work and others there still have their colds, avoid the place for a few days if you can until people get better.
  1. Use over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce inflammation. Used in moderation, aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen can all help relieve minor bodily aches that may accompany your cold, but they also act as anti-inflammatories and can reduce a fever and speed up the healing process.
Can Chiropractic Care Really Reduce Your Sensitivity to Pain?

Can Chiropractic Care Really Reduce Your Sensitivity to Pain?

???????????Chronic back pain is a worldwide problem. According to the 2010 Global Burden of Disease report, it is the single leading cause of disability worldwide. In America, an estimated $50 billion is spent each year to treat back pain. And that figure doesn’t even take into account broader economic or societal costs that come with lower productivity and wages lost to work absences. As a result, chronic pain (whether it’s located in the back, neck, head or elsewhere in the body) and its treatment is an issue—either directly or indirectly—affects all of our lives.

Over the years, there have been tens of thousands of anecdotal reports from patients who found relief from their chronic pain as the result of chiropractic spinal manipulation therapy (SMT). There have also been a number of research studies that documented pain relief after receiving spinal adjustments, especially with regard to decreased sensitivity to pain. But critics have always been able to suggest that the pain relief experienced in these studies might be due more to the placebo effect and “expecting” relief than to the therapy itself.

New research from the University of Florida, published in the February issue of the Journal of Pain, provides demonstrable proof that the pain relief from spinal manipulation therapy is the result of the therapy itself, and not simply the result of patient expectations. In this study, researchers worked with 110 participants suffering from chronic back pain. They assigned them randomly to four groups. A control group received no intervention at all, the SMT group received real spinal manipulation therapy, a third group received placebo SMT (non-chiropractic manipulations designed to simulate treatment) and the fourth group received “enhanced” placebo SMT accompanied by instructions that said “The manual therapy technique you will receive has been shown to significantly reduce low back pain in some people.” Patients then received their therapies or mock therapies six times over a period of 2 weeks. Pain sensitivity was assessed at the start and the end of the experiment.

The study design was thus intended to determine how much of any pain relief experienced by the test subjects was due to the placebo effect. Patients in the real SMT group experienced much more significant reductions in their sensitivity to pain than the control group (as expected), but also more pain reduction than either of the placebo SMT groups, including the group that had been “implanted” with the expectation that it would relieve their pain. The researchers suggest that real spinal manipulation therapy created changes to central nervous system response or the processing of neural pain input that the placebo treatments did not. They attributed the pain relief to “the modulation of dorsal horn excitability and lessening of central sensitization. This suggests potential for SMT to be a clinically beneficial intervention.”

These results should not surprise either chiropractors or their patients, who have had first-hand experience with spinal manipulation for years and understand its potential to reduce pain sensitivity in patients. But it is useful information to those who still doubt chiropractic’s ability to provide real relief without drugs or surgery. The pain alleviation produced by chiropractic adjustments has been determined to be a real and valuable alternative to other types of treatment than may involve far more risk and expense.