There is no question that chiropractic care can help patients who are battling cancer, most specifically in terms of easing pain associated with the disease.
Of course, special care must be taken when making adjustments, particularly with cases in which tumors may be pressing on the nerves leading out from the spinal column. In addition to easing pain, chiropractic may also help ease some of the side effects of chemotherapy treatment, such as nausea and vomiting.1
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), approximately 650,000 cancer patients receive chemotherapy treatment in outpatient oncology clinics each year.2 These patients are undergoing treatment that puts them at risk for a myriad of dangerous health complications, and they are doing it over a lengthy series of very long days.
- A single chemotherapy session can last several hours in order for only one dose of the chemo cocktail to be administered, and
- patients may be scheduled to receive chemotherapy anywhere from once every three weeks to once a week for several months.3
The time a cancer patient spends sitting in a chair receiving chemotherapy rapidly adds up, and all of those who undergo numerous chemotherapy treatments can certainly stand to benefit from chiropractic care.
Quality of life
Several studies have shown that improving quality of life for cancer patients will also increase their chances of survival.4 This can include proper treatment for pain and nausea directly related to either the cancer or the chemotherapy side effects.5 It can also mean making patients more comfortable while enduring numerous long sessions in the chemotherapy chair.
Just as instrument adjusting may be preferred for treating pain associated with cancer because it may be easier on the patient and be more targeted than manual adjustments,1 instrument adjusting is also preferable when treating pain related to extended hours sitting in chemo chairs.
An article published in a 2013 issue of Chiropractic Economics discussed the case of a patient undergoing chemotherapy treatment for colon cancer. The patient found sitting in chairs while receiving chemotherapy to be very painful, causing him to be unable to sleep at night. He also developed radicular pain from the left side of his neck to his scapula.6
The patient underwent one chiropractic treatment and reported the following day that he was able to sleep through the night. He continued with chiropractic care through his next cycle of chemotherapy treatments.6
1 Beychok, T. Take special care when adjusting oncology patients. ChiroEco.com. https://www.chiroeco.com/news/chiro-article.php?id=15847. Published January 2015. Accessed March 2015.
2 Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Preventing infections in cancer patients.” CDC.gov. http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/preventinfections/providers.htm. Updated February 2014. Accessed March 2015.
3 Mayo Clinic Staff. “Chemotherapy for breast cancer.” MayoClinic.org. http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/chemotherapy-for-breast-cancer/basics/what-you-can-expect/prc-20013035. Updated March 2014. Accessed March 2015.
4 University of Michigan. “Quality of life predicts cancer survival.” Phys.org. http://phys.org/news131300466.html. Published May 2008. Accessed March 2015.
5 Gilford S, Schneider J. The chiropractor’s role in pain management for oncology patients. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2001:24(1);52–57.
6 Sklar J. Sleep disrupted by ostomy complicated by cervical radiculopathy. Chiropractic Economics. 2013:59(13);21–23.