Definition and Overview

Massage and chiropractic go hand in hand to improve the overall health and wellness of the patient while decreasing the need for surgery and other types of conventional treatment.

Massage is the manipulation of the muscles and tissues of the body using gentle and slow movements, a bit of force, kneading, and pressing. It helps ease the tension of the muscles that may have become knotted or cramped, causing pain. It is also a good way to release the toxins from the body, thereby boosting the immune system.

There are many different kinds of massage therapies. One example is the trigger point massage that works on the trigger points or areas of the body that may have become tender and painful due to an injury, trauma, or enormous stress. Another example is the Swedish massage that uses circular slow strokes and vibrations to increase the flow of energy.

Chiropractic, on the other hand, is a recognized alternative treatment that usually involves the manipulation of the body’s nervous system, especially the spine, as well as the bones. It is based on the principle that a problem in the nervous system affects all the other parts of the body, causing a variety of conditions and injuries. It helps correct misalignment and allows the nerves to send signals to and from the brain more efficiently.

Chiropractic has several techniques that share some concepts with massage. These include the high-velocity low-amplitude thrust, a kind of spinal manipulation characterized by a “popping” sound due to the applied force on the joint. Spinal mobilization uses slow and gentle techniques, sometimes using a tool.

Many clinics combine these treatments for a more effective spinal adjustment and faster healing process. By easing the muscle tension, the body becomes more receptive to the treatment.

Who Should Undergo and Expected Results

Chiropractic massage is one of most preferred treatments for people suffering from lower back pain. According to the American Chiropractic Association, at least 30 million people in the country will develop chronic lower back pain. The method also works for people who have been experiencing pain in other parts of the body, especially if the pain is due to a problem in the musculoskeletal or nervous system, including fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis.

A person may also undergo chiropractic massage even when there’s no underlying disease or pain. The technique enhances the body’s immune system by allowing the blood to flow correctly, relaxing the muscles, and reducing spinal pressure in the process. All these can boost the body’s resistance against threats such as viruses and bacteria.

The massage also has a positive impact for those who have a mental disorder such as depression or exhibit an abnormal level of anxiety.

Women, meanwhile, can benefit from the decreased pain brought about by pre-menstrual syndrome. It is also a safe procedure for pregnant women, who are prone to lower back pain.

Patients who have undergone trauma such as an accident or a fall that resulted to a fracture or tear of the ligaments or the muscles can work closely with a chiropractor for the technique’s inclusion in the rehabilitation.

The outcome of chiropractic massage is varied. Sometimes it helps manage the pain, but it doesn’t treat the condition. There are also others who have been treated by the technique. Others take only one adjustment while some need more. The chiropractor needs to customize the plan based on the expectations and needs of the patient to achieve the desired results.

How Does the Procedure Work?

The process begins with a thorough examination of the patient. Some seek the services of a chiropractor or therapist after conventional treatments like drugs and surgery are ineffective in alleviating the pain. At this point, the chiropractor needs all the documents for a proper medical review. He or she will also conduct an interview, covering when the pain or illness started, areas of pain, and situations that seem to increase or decrease the level of pain. He or she will also probe on the patient’s habits, lifestyle, and family history.

If the chiropractor offers a massage, the patient first goes in for a massage therapy to ease muscle tension. After about 45 minutes to an hour, the patient can then proceed to the chiropractor’s office for manipulation or adjustment. The patient will then go back to the massage therapist to further improve the condition of the soft tissues. Sometimes these two are scheduled at different times.

Possible Risks and Complications

Many studies have proven the effectiveness and safety of chiropractic massage as long as it is performed by trained and certified therapists. Nevertheless, joint aches and soreness of the muscles and the body may be felt within the first few hours of treatment. A good massage should be able to reduce such occurrence.

References:

  • Rindfleisch JA, Early B. Neck pain. In: Rakel D, ed. Integrative Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2012:chap.
  • Rubinstein SM, van Middelkoop M, Assendelft WJ, de Boer MR, van Tulder MW. Spinal manipulative therapy for chronic low-back pain. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011 Feb 16;(2):CD008112.
  • Chou R, Loeser JD, Owens DK, Rosenquist RW, et al; American Pain Society Low Back Pain Guideline Panel. Interventional therapies, surgery, and interdisciplinary rehabilitation for low back pain: an evidence-based clinical practice guideline from the American Pain Society. Spine. 2009;34(10):1066-77.
  • Walker BF, French SD, Grant W, Green S. Combined chiropractic interventions for low-back pain. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010;(4). Review.
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