Denver chiropractic physicians are well-versed in treating a range of musculoskeletal conditions that affect the body, applying treatment, prescribing exercises, and expertly manipulating the spine, neck, or joints towards correction.
We’ll help you discover precisely what a chiropractor does and explain the various conditions their extensive education and training allow them to address and alleviate.
What Is a Chiropractor?
A chiropractor primarily focuses on the neuromusculoskeletal system—a fancy term for the nerves, muscles, and bones that comprise the body. When this system is impaired or damaged, chiropractors are uniquely qualified to identify and treat the issue.
Chiropractors examine patients, often using X-rays and other tests to determine the spine’s position and muscle behavior. They do not generally prescribe treatment; a chiropractor’s job is to make corrections in the body, whether through adjustment or corrective exercises, so it can eventually heal itself. That process might include the following roles:
- Administering spinal manipulation
- Relaxing or stimulating the affected area
- Referring patients to dietary guidelines or counseling
At heart, chiropractors operate under the belief that restoring the spine can significantly improve the patient’s health by relieving pressure on neurological tissue and restoring structural integrity.
What Can a Chiropractor Help with?
A licensed and certified chiropractor who has earned a Doctor of Chiropractic degree is qualified to treat a range of conditions in patients.
General Aches and Pains
The majority of a chiropractor’s work involves treating various aches and pains that require adjustment. Specifically, low back pain, neck pain, and headaches are the most common type of discomfort.
Chiropractors may run some tests and take X-rays to view the spinal structure. They will also check to see if the muscles around the affected joints are working correctly. As mentioned, chiropractors take a neuromusculoskeletal approach—all of these body systems fall under the purview of a chiropractor.
In the event of lower back or neck pain, the chiropractor may adjust to manipulate the spine, improving the range of motion and reducing pain. The same may be true of treating neck pain; the chiropractor performs an adjustment and may prescribe follow-up exercises. An adjustment is a sudden, controlled burst of force to a spinal joint, either by hand or by using a small instrument.
Sacroiliac Joint Pain
The sacroiliac joint (SI) is easy to strain, which can cause low back pain. This condition is often the result of excessive tightness or inflexibility of the muscles that support the sacroiliac joint. A chiropractor can diagnose sacroiliac joint problems and potentially perform a helpful adjustment.
They may also provide a wealth of information on how to avoid SI strains in the future and valuable exercises to strengthen the supporting core muscles.
The sciatic nerve can be compressed or irritated by a range of causes, including poor posture, tightness of the muscle, or injury. When the nerve suffers compression, it can send shooting pains into the legs that worsen with physical activity.
While sciatica responds well to self-care, a chiropractor can provide expert insight with regard to activity and treatment, identifying potential causes or stimuli that could be exacerbating the condition. A chiropractor will work alongside the affected patient for several weeks or months to resolve the issue.
Tension headaches may result from poor posture and stress. These can cause the neck to be in a state of constant discomfort, leading to pain that can even transfer to other parts of the body.
Chiropractors may adjust the neck to reduce pain and prescribe stretching exercises to maintain a healthy lifestyle. They may also suggest dietary changes, posture exercises, and stress reduction techniques to reduce the risk of recurrence and improve overall well-being.
Similarly, chiropractic spinal manipulation can reduce migraine frequency and dependency on migraine medication. The connection between these two can be somewhat tenuous, although it’s likely that overall chiropractic care and adjustment reduce stress and discomfort, thereby lessening the frequency of migraines.
Chiropractors can offer pragmatic advice, too, identifying triggers that cause migraines, such as certain foods, and suggesting dietary changes that may help.
While most people think about the back or neck, chiropractors can also help with shoulder pain. A chiropractor can stretch and adjust conditions such as a frozen shoulder, increasing the range of motion.
As with other conditions, they can also provide expert guidance on at-home exercises necessary to recover fully, monitoring the progress of those exercises until normal shoulder functions return.
A chiropractor is equipped to treat whiplash, a general term for neck injuries caused by sudden neck movement. This condition can cause pain, stiffness, dizziness, and nausea, especially when turning the neck.
While chiropractors don’t generally deal with the immediate care required after a whiplash injury (such as a car accident), they do often help a patient deal with the lingering effects. Adjustments paired with exercises, stretches, and at-home care, may help in some circumstances.
Whether it’s the knee itself or the back affecting the knee, chiropractors can treat various conditions that affect the knee, such as osteoarthritis.
Following diagnosis, the chiropractor may perform an adjustment paired with knee exercises to help the patient recover. Indeed, doing so often reduces pain and can lead to an improved range of motion over time.
Whether it’s a strained muscle or a sprained ankle, chiropractors can identify the source of the issue to help provide proper treatment and exercise to repair and strengthen the affected area over time, including positions or activities to avoid during recovery, routines to follow, and dietary recommendations to aid healing.
The Bottom Line
Chiropractors are well-versed in treating a wide range of conditions affecting different body parts. These medical specialists know how to identify misalignments, weakened muscles, or damaged nerves.
They can then perform the necessary adjustment, if appropriate, and prescribe follow-up treatment to ensure the recovery process is as smooth as possible. From general aches and pains to specific nerve compression discomfort, chiropractors can help a patient in distress quite literally from head to toe.