Sticking with the theme of massage therapy, chiropractor care is a popular form of alternative medicine. I am often asked by patients if their pain would be relieved by chiropractic manipulation. I have been to a chiropractor several times and I felt that I benefited from the care, but as with everything, there are risks.
Picking a Chiropractor
After my car accident, my back and neck were tense and I had significant pain. I do not take pain meds outside of Tylenol or the rare Ibuprofen so I needed to find a way to relieve my pain. When I started looking for a chiropractor I found that certain offices had a physical therapist in their office. To me, this made sense. I started going three times a week to get therapy and once a week for spinal adjustments. I think the physical therapy is what helped me in the long run, but the chiropractic care helped with short-term, immediate pain. One thing I refused was manipulation of my neck. I didn’t have a good reason at the time, but it was uncomfortable for me so I just had her skip that part.
What To Avoid
What I now know is that my instinct to not have my neck manipulated was correct. Since becoming a doctor, I have seen 2 cases of young women who had strokes after having manipulation of their necks. Please understand, this is extremely rare. In fact, one case I heard about was actually presented at a national conference of medicine because of its rarity. Despite the fact that this is rare, I still advise my patients to not have their neck manipulated.
Another important factor is finding a properly accredited chiropractor. The NCBE (National Board of Chiropractor Examiners) lists the requirements for being certified in chiropractic care. My chiropractor was a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) with a specialty in acupuncture. Having proper accreditation ensures complete training and reduction in injuries. Just like you ensure your physician actually went to medical school, choose a chiropractor that has the proper accreditation.
To sum it up: 1) Choose a chiropractor that is proper accredited, 2) avoid neck manipulation, and 3) find one with physical therapy as an adjunct.