When most of us think about seeing our chiropractor, we think about getting help with back pain or some other kind of musculoskeletal problem. But did you know that chiropractic is also a great way to improve your general health and wellness?
The core concept of chiropractic is to restore the function of your nervous system so that it can do what’s it’s designed to do: keeping your body healthy and active. Chiropractic is truly about prevention. If you keep your nervous system working smoothly and without interference, many health issues become non-issues!
Don’t take our word for it, though. Over the last few years, there’s been a lot of scientific research that shows that chiropractic is good for much more than just aches and pains. Here’s a review of some of this literature.
1 – Chiropractic Boosts Immune Function
A 2010 study found that chiropractic adjustments actually boosted blood serum levels of some important natural antibodies in patients. The authors suggested that chiropractic adjustments might “prime” the immune system, making it easier to ward off infection and illness.
2 – Chiropractic Reduces Inflammation
Researchers in a 2011 study compared back pain patients to people with no pain and gave both groups chiropractic adjustments. The authors found that the back pain patients who received chiropractic care had dramatically lower levels of a key inflammatory cytokine, known as TNF-α. High levels of TNF-α have been linked to inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and psoriasis.
3 – Chiropractic Reduces Blood Pressure
Hypertension is a huge public health issue in the US; it’s estimated that about 30% of adults suffer from this serious condition. A 2007 study in the Journal of Human Hypertension looked at a group of patients with high blood pressure. Half received received an adjustment of their atlas, and the other half received a sham adjustment.
The decrease in blood pressure was so dramatic in the patients who received real adjustments that the researchers wrote that it “is similar to that seen by giving two different anti-hypertensive agents simultaneously.” In fact, 85% of the study patients had improvement after just one adjustment!
4 – Chiropractic Reduces Stress
An interesting study by a team of Japanese researchers in 2011 gave chiropractic adjustments to 12 men and examined PET scan images and blood chemistry to examine the effect that chiropractic has on the autonomic nervous system.
After receiving a chiropractic neck adjustment, patients had altered brain activity in the parts of the brain responsible for pain processing and stress reactions. They also had significantly reduced cortisol levels, indicating decreased stress. Participants also reported lower pain scores and a better quality of life after treatment.
5 – Chiropractic Improves Balance
As we age, sometimes we start to lose some of our balance, strength, and flexibility that we had in our youth. Because of this, older folks are vulnerable to serious injuries from trips and falls. Chiropractic helps keep your body active by restoring the normal, healthy functioning of your spine. One of the important roles of your spine is balance, aided by nerves called proprioceptors. These propriocepters relay information to your brain on the position of your body.
A small study from 2009 found that people who received chiropractic adjustments had reduced dizziness and improved balance. A 2015 review of the literature suggests that chiropractic care might be an effective, natural way to help prevent falls in elderly patients.
6 – Chiropractic Relieves Colic in Babies
In 2012, researchers studied 104 infants who were suffering from colic. One-third of the infants were treated with chiropractic adjustments and the parents were aware of the treatment; one-third were treated and the parents were unaware of the treatment; and one-third were untreated but the parents were unaware.
The authors found that the parents reported a significant decrease in infant crying in the treated babies, compared to the infants who didn’t receive treatment. The knowledge of the parent had no effect on the improvement.
7 – Chiropractic Relieves Asthma Symptoms
A 2013 study reported that chiropractic adjustments were effective at increasing lung functioning, and some recent research9 shows that chiropractic care can help reduce the symptoms of asthma in some children.
Teodorczyk-Injeyan JA, McGregor M, Ruegg R, Injeyan HS. Interleukin 2-regulated in vitro antibody production following a single spinal manipulative treatment in normal subjects. Chiropractic & Osteopathy 2010;(18)26.
Teodorczyk-Injeyan JA, Triano JJ, McGregor M, Woodhouse L, Injeyan HS. Elevated production of inflammatory mediators including nociceptive chemokines in patients with neck pain: a cross-sectional evaluation. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2011;34(8):498-505.
Bakris G, Dickholtz M Sr, Meyer PM, Kravitz G, Avery E, Miller M, Brown J, Woodfield C, Bell B. Atlas vertebra realignment and achievement of arterial pressure goal in hypertensive patients: a pilot study. Journal of Human Hypertension 2007;21(5):347-52.
Ogura T, Tashiro M, Masud M, et al. Cerebral metabolic changes in men after chiropractic spinal manipulation for neck pain. Alternative Therapies. 2011;17(6):12-17.
Strunk RG, Hawk C. Effects of chiropractic care on dizziness, neck pain, and balance: a single-group, pre-experimental, feasibility study. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine 2009;8(4):156–164.
Kendall JC, Hartvigsen J, French SD, Azari MF. Is there a role for neck manipulation in elderly falls prevention? – An overview. Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association 2015;9(1):53-63.
Miller JE, Newell D, Bolton JE. Efficacy of chiropractic manual therapy on infant colic: a pragmatic single-blind, randomized controlled trial. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2012;35(8):600-7.
Engel RM, Vemulpad SR, Beath K. Short-term effects of a course of manual therapy and exercise in people with moderate chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a preliminary clinical trial. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2013;36(8):490-6.
Pepino VC, Ribeiro JD, Ribeiro MA, de Noronha M, Mezzacappa MA, Schivinski CI. Manual therapy for childhood respiratory disease: A systematic review. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2013;36(1):57-65.