Does Chiropractic Care Really Work? An Evidence-Based Examination

In the realm of alternative healthcare, one name can spark a flurry of debate – chiropractic care! This hands-on approach to health, focusing predominantly on the musculoskeletal system and especially the spine, has its fair share of passionate advocates as well as skeptical critics. So, what’s the verdict? Does chiropractic care actually work? Let’s delve into the evidence.

Understanding Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care primarily revolves around the diagnosis and treatment of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system, particularly those affecting the spine [1]. Doctors of Chiropractic (DCs), often called chiropractors, are trained to use hands-on spinal manipulation and other alternative treatments with the theory that proper alignment of the body’s musculoskeletal structure, particularly the spine, will enable the body to heal itself without surgery or medication [2].

The Science Behind Chiropractic Care

Now, let’s delve into the heart of the matter: the scientific evidence. Numerous studies have been conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of chiropractic care. The findings tend to be most compelling for certain conditions.

A systematic review published in the “Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics” found that patients with chronic low-back pain treated by chiropractors showed greater improvement and satisfaction after one month than patients treated by family physicians. Satisfaction scores were higher for chiropractic patients, and chronic low-back pain patients treated by chiropractors had clinically significant advantages over those treated by family physicians [3].

Moreover, a “Cochrane Review” of 12 studies involving 2887 people with acute and chronic low back pain indicated that spinal manipulative therapy (SMT), the primary treatment method used by chiropractors, led to small to moderate effects for pain reduction and function improvement compared to other treatments [4].

However, it’s also important to note that the evidence for chiropractic care is often condition-specific. While it shows promise for back pain, neck pain, and certain types of headaches [5], the evidence is less substantial for other ailments that some chiropractors claim they can help, such as asthma or digestive problems [6].

The Takeaway

So, does chiropractic care really work? The answer, according to the evidence, is that it seems to work for various conditions. It’s important for patients to communicate openly with their healthcare providers about their experiences with chiropractic care and consider it as one tool in their overall health and wellness toolkit.

Chiropractic care is not a panacea. However, for conditions like lower back pain and certain types of headaches, it may offer valuable relief when conducted by a trained and licensed professional.

As with all healthcare decisions, it’s crucial to consider your unique health situation and discuss all options with your healthcare provider. After all, good health is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor, and each individual deserves an approach that works best for their personal wellbeing journey.

[1]: American Chiropractic Association. (2021). “What is Chiropractic?”

[2]: Mayo Clinic. (2020). “Chiropractic Adjustment.”

[3]: Nyiendo J et al. (2000). “Patient characteristics, practice activities, and one-month outcomes for chronic, recurrent low-back pain treated by chiropractors and family medicine physicians: a practice-based feasibility study.” Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics.

[4]: Rubinstein SM, de Zoete A, van Middelkoop M, Assendelft WJJ, de Boer MR, van Tulder MW. (2019). “Benefits and harms of spinal manipulative therapy for the treatment of chronic low back pain: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials.” BMJ.

[5]: Bronfort G, Haas M, Evans R, Leininger B, Triano J. (2010). “Effectiveness of manual therapies: the UK evidence report.” Chiropractic & Manual Therapies.

[6]: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. (2019). “Chiropractic: In Depth.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Written by

Staff Writer

Staff Writer

Our Staff Writers are communications experts who dive headfirst into researching wellness topics, ensuring they know their beat inside and out.

Reviewed By:

AJ Centore, Ph.D.

AJ Centore, Ph.D.

AJ (Anthony) Centore Ph.D. is Founder at Sageworks Massage Therapy, Founder and Chair at Thriveworks (a mental health practice with 250+ locations).

New on the Blog