Chiropractic patients often experience unexpected improvements in many aspects of their health after commencing treatment. Patients who have received chiropractic adjustments over a period of time will often claim they feel more relaxed, have more energy or a greater sense of wellbeing.
Although a patient may first consult a chiropractor for a particular complaint, such as low back pain, other areas of their health may improve along the road to recovery. Part of the reason for this is because co-morbidity (associated health problems) is common with low back pain.
One Norwegian study looked at this trend by examining 457 patients sick-listed for 8 to 12 weeks because of low back pain. All subjects filled out questionnaires. The subjective health complaints in the study group were compared with those in a normal Norwegian population.
Compared to the normal population, the study group not only had more low back pain, but also had more neck pain, upper back pain, pain in the feet during exercise, headache, migraine, sleep problems, flushes/heat sensations, anxiety, and sadness/depression. The prevalence of pain in arms and shoulders, plus tiredness, was also high.
The researchers concluded that patients with low back pain suffer from what may be referred to as a ‘syndrome,’ consisting of muscle pain affecting the whole spine as well as the legs and head, with accompanying sleep problems, anxiety, and sadness/depression. With treatment, improvement in many aspects of the patient’s health can therefore be expected.
Chiropractors explain this phenomenon as being due to the spine’s relationship with the nervous system. The spinal cord, protected by the spine, connects the brain with the body and is responsible for maintaining health and order in the body. When the spine is out of balance (subluxated) due to injury, poor posture or other causes, transmission of nerve messages can become distorted. This may have a spill-over effect to other areas of the body and manifest as a wide variety of symptoms.
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