Is the Chiropractor Even Good For Us?



          I have heard the answer to this question go both ways.  I've had people tell me that the chiropractor is good and helps their back feel better.  But, I've also heard people say it's not good for you to go.  So, what's the truth?  I wanted to find out.  I am going to talk about what exactly the chiropractor does, symptoms people have had from it and recent studies done to determine whether it's doing more harm than good for us.

What They're Suppose To Do

          On, the definition of a chiropractor is "a health care professional focused on the diagnosis and treatment neuromuscular disorders, with an emphasis on treatment through manual adjustment/ manipulation of the spine."  They're goal is to reduce pain and improve the patients functionality.  It is categorized as an alternative to medicine.  They focus on the relationship between the nervous system and spine.  "It is believed to restore the structural integrity of the spine, reduce pressure on the sensitive neurological tissue, and consequently improve the health of the individual."

Chiropractic Procedures

Thumbnail image for spinal_segment.jpg

There are two usual approaches to chiropractic manipulation. 

1.     Traditional chiropractic adjustment

(Spinal manipulation; HVLA)

2.     Gentle/less forceful adjustment

(Spinal mobilization)

     The first method is a "thrust" that's normally considered manual adjustments.  Chiropractors will apply a short quick thrust over the joints.  The second method is a gentler version of the first method.  This is for people with possible bone problems and cannot handle the quicker thrust.  In this method they use their hands to press down on the spine and adjust it.  Other times, they can use an "Activator" which is "a hand-held spring-loaded, tool that provides a low-force impulse."

Common Results:

 lists some common side effects that people have after a visit to the chiropractor:

                • Pain/Discomfort
                • Headaches
                • Fatigue
                • Herniated disc

*A herniated disc can possibly cause numbing to the lower body or affect the bladder/bowel controls.


           People don't only question if it's beneficial, but a lot of people actually think it's bad for you.  Since there has been no evidence on how effective Chiropractor's are, I found a study that showed evidence of it being harmful to patients.

Researchers: A J Barrett and A C Breen

Location:  Institute for Musculoskeletal Research and Clinical Implementation, Anglo-European College of Chiropractic, Bournemouth, UK 

           This study was done because of the questioning of the "file drawer problem" with concern to adverse effects of spinal manipulation (the chiropractor).  Eleven questionnaires were sent to 108 consecutive new patients older than 18.  They were asked about adverse effects after spinal manipulation and were completed anonymously.  80 questionnaires were returned with 68 able to be analyzed.  41% reported adverse effects one hour after treatment, this included 50% with extra pain and 32% with radiating pain.  The adverse reactions were recorded in 53% of responding patients.

Overall, the study backs up the evidence saying it's not beneficial, but adds that it can also be harmful to the patient and cause more pain then they initially had.  The study also argued the "file drawer problem" could be the cause of the study's results for effectiveness.  They were very efficient with collecting the data and took a wide range of patience results.  So, the studies state we shouldn't be going to the chiropractor for back pain because there's no known benefits and also proven negative disadvantages.



What They're Supposed To Do Paragraph:

Chiropractic Procedures Paragraph:

Common Side Effects:

Harmful Paragraph:


Hi Alyssa,
I have always wondered this myself. My mom told me growing up that a chiropractor does not do much and she never paid for me to go to one. She went to many chiropractors because she had back problems. She claimed that some helped and some didn't. I didn't know that this was known as a medicine alternative. This may be why some people have different opinions. This study that they did is very unreliable to me. You don't know how severe people's back problems are that answered the survey. It could be that the 50% who reported more pain after have sensitive backs and the "thrusts" agitate their back right after but actually help the day after or something like that.

Alyssa, I agree with your connection of this study to the file drawer problem, which we learned could contribute to misleading biases. Your source introduces the survey by saying it was conducted due to concerns that adverse affects (discomfort after spinal manipulation) were under-reported. The results of the study did show that 53% of responding patients experienced discomfort, BUT there were no reports of serious adverse affects. The report goes on to say that these results are to be expected from "a treatment that entails initial discomfort." In the discussion section of the study, the researchers suggest that the risk of experiencing discomfort is outweighed by the benefits of chiropractic treatment. So, to me, this study does not really show evidence against the benefits of chiropractic care. I personally think this method of treatment is effective in aiding the body in a natural healing process. I've included some links below that you might find interesting!

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