As a society, we are often captivated by the progress that is made in various fields, and chiropractic is no exception.
However, amidst all of the new and innovative treatment procedures and products available in recent years, it is easy to forget that the basic foundation of chiropractic care is perhaps the most important—a foundation that is based on chiropractic manipulative therapy.
What it is
Chiropractic manipulative therapy (CMT) is known by many different names, ranging from spinal manipulation to chiropractic adjustment. No matter what you call it though, it refers to the act of manipulating vertebrae that are somehow misaligned or otherwise not functioning normally in an attempt to realign the spinal column for optimal physical and mental health.
CMT is essentially an all-natural, noninvasive, preventative and treatment remedy that encourages the body to heal itself. Often it is combined with nutrition advice, exercise suggestions, and proposed lifestyle changes, as the chiropractic profession is largely based on the premise of holistic healing.
A typical CMT session
Although every patient’s needs and physical condition are different, each CMT session generally follows the same pattern. This includes completion of an assessment, which includes asking about any recent injuries or pain, as well as completing a quick physical exam.
From there, the chiropractor performs a spinal manipulation, working to correct any vertebrae-related issues. The exact technique used is based on the type and extent of the problem.
This can result in a popping sound due to gases being released and can sometimes cause the patient slight, short-term discomfort, especially if the surrounding muscles spasm or the patient tenses during the treatment session.
Conditions and symptoms it helps treat
The goals of CMT are perhaps stated best by Spine-health in that “the objective of this chiropractic treatment is to reduce the subluxation, with the goals of increasing range of motion, reducing nerve irritability, and improving function.”1 What does this mean in real life terms?
Most people are familiar with the fact that chiropractic manipulative therapy helps treat back, neck, and leg pain. However, as pointed out by an article published by the University of Minnesota, some lesser-known symptoms that it helps treat include headaches and ear infections.2 Chiropractic has also been found to reduce asthma severity, decrease allergy distress, and assist in lessening other common yet bothersome symptomatic responses to various conditions.3
There are also many diseases that CMT can help in regard to easing their impact. For instance, it has been found to aid people struggling with fibromyalgia, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, degenerative joint disease, and scoliosis. It also shows promising results for individuals dealing with epilepsy, PMS, vertigo, and autism.3
What research says about CMT and standard medical care
Several studies have confirmed the effectiveness of CMT, especially when combined with standard medical care. For instance, one study published in Spine involved active-duty military personnel between the ages of 18 and 35 who presented with low back pain.
One group received standard medical care and the other group received standard medical care and chiropractic manipulative therapy. While both groups reported improvement in disability, the group who also received CMT had “significantly better” scores at both the two- and four-week marks. They reported a greater decrease in pain, as well.
Although it is great to progress in chiropractic care, it is the basics that often matter most. Such as those in regard to CMT—the literal backbone of chiropractic care.
1 Yeomans S. “Chiropractic adjustment.” Spine-health. http://www.spine-health.com/treatment/chiropractic/chiropractic-adjustment. Updated March 2013. Accessed May 2015.
2 Kuusisto L. “How can chiropractic help me?” University of Minnesota. http://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/explore-healing-practices/chiropractic/how-can-chiropractic-help-me. Updated July 2013. Accessed May 2015.
3 Painter F. “Conditions that respond well to chiropractic.” Chiro.org. http://www.chiro.org/research/ABSTRACTS/Conditions.shtml. Updated February 2015. Accessed May 2015.
4 Goertz CM, et al. Adding chiropractic manipulative therapy to standard medical care for patients with acute low back pain: results of a pragmatic randomized comparative effectiveness study. Spine. 2013;38(8):627–634.