According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the use of chiropractic, acupuncture and massage therapy increased among uninsured adults between 2002 and 2012.
All three of these alternative health approaches fall under the umbrella of CAM. A 2008 study showed that nearly 38 percent of adults are using some form of CAM. This shows that Americans, both insured and uninsured, are turning to these types of therapy for relief of ailments.
What is CAM?
By definition, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) refers to therapies not typically considered part of Western medicine practices and focuses on the whole person, including physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health, according to the Mayo Clinic. Mind-body medicine, which comprise meditation, acupuncture, yoga, and body-based practices, such as massage and spinal manipulation, combined with natural herbal and dietary supplements, are also part of a comprehensive CAM profile.
The NCCIH considers chiropractic a “complementary health approach” that is growing in popularity. A 2007 National Health Interview Survey reported that more than 18 million (8 percent) adults and more than two million (nearly three percent) children in the United States received chiropractic treatment in the previous 12 months. Also, a cost data analysis showed that Americans spent approximately $3.9 billion on chiropractic visits.
Alternative therapies on their own provide benefits that range from pain relief to stress reduction. In combination, these same therapies might be able to offer enhanced perks. Take massage and chiropractic, for instance. According to a blog post at Southeast Chiropractic, these two modalities use a “hands-on, drug-free technique” to provide long-term healing. The post also notes that this combination therapy can provide quicker recovery, increased range of motion, improved circulation and may lead to better posture and pain management.
Helping Hands Massage and Chiropractic embraces that philosophy and offers massage and chiropractic during separate visits.
“The chiropractic sessions are about fifteen to twenty minutes and can include modalities such as electrical stimulation, ultrasound, instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization, low level laser light therapy and physical therapy, while the massage sessions – on a different day – are thirty to sixty minutes,” says Jose Aguilar, DC, who works at the clinic. “As a chiropractor, I’m working with the skeletal structures. The massage therapists work with the soft tissues like the muscles and the other supporting structures. Working together with the right therapists allows the body to heal at an accelerated rate without having to bombard a patient with everything all at once.”
Other experts advocate for back-to-back massage and chiropractic treatments. Health and wellness expert, author and massage therapist Kathy Gruver, PhD., LMT, CHt, owns The Alternative Medicine Cabinet and points out that addressing the muscles and the skeleton at the same time with massage therapy and chiropractic treatment is the perfect combination. “If you do the massage before the adjustment, it tends to loosen up the muscles to allow the adjustment to take and hold better,” she says. “If you get a massage after the adjustment, it seems to keep the muscle from going into spasm and allows the adjustment to last longer as well.”
Stephanie Beck, online marketer for chiropractors, massage therapists and spa owners and owner of SRB Solutions, would agree. She notes that she always receives massage prior to her chiropractic treatment and finds that it provides longer lasting benefits.
“I feel they naturally go hand in hand – chiropractic for spinal and extremity adjustments and massage for all soft tissue work to help support natural function. When everything is in perfect alignment and tissues are able to receive the proper blood flow, the body has an amazing ability to heal,” she says. “At various times during the last 40 years I have received both treatments independent of each other. It wasn’t until the last five years that I focused on incorporating regular massage and chiropractic care that I truly appreciate the value of both working hand in hand.”
Massage is not the only alternative treatment that meshes well with chiropractic. Matt Tanneberg, a sports chiropractor, CSCS in Phoenix, works closely with acupuncturists, as well as with massage therapists and physical therapists. His daily contact with an acupuncturist benefits both practitioners as well as the patient, especially those with sciatica and radiating arm pain.
“She is able to get the pain level of my patients calmed down enough for me to effectively work on them. She has worked with a lot of my patients that suffer from sciatica,” he says. “The combination of adjustments and the acupuncture seems to speed up the healing process.”
Tanneberg also collaborates with the acupuncturist on patients with rotator cuff tears.
“I can help to heal rotator cuff tears with myofascial release. However, when patients come in with severe pain and have no range of motion, it makes it much more difficult for me to help,” he says. “Seeing the acupuncturist helps to get the pain level decreased so that I can get deeper into the muscles and help fix the problem.
A chiropractic physician, acupuncturist, and nutritionist, Scott Schreiber utilizes all his expertise areas to help his patients. “Many of my patients have seen either one or multiple providers and gotten no relief of their symptoms,” he says. “Many treatment modalities complement each other and have a synergistic effect, speeding up recovery time. I encourage all chiropractic physicians to incorporate different healing modalities and have an open mind when it comes to other disciplines as they can help your patients.
Regardless of which technique you choose, the combination of chiropractic care with other alternative therapies could become an effective pain-relieving solution for your patients.