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Chiropractor Brian Sin assessing a patient's shoulder for alignment and mobility issues.

Do Chiropractors Actually Help?


Chiropractic care, also known as spinal manipulation therapy, is a widely accepted treatment method targeting issues related to the skeletal system, joints, and the nervous system. With the rapid pace of modern life, many individuals face skeletal and joint diseases due to technological advancements. Chiropractic treatment, known for its unique techniques and efficacy, has gained popularity among numerous patients. However, misconceptions persist regarding the safety and effectiveness of chiropractic care. This article aims to provide a comprehensive and objective understanding of the treatment chiropractors provide.

Actual Role of Chiropractic Care:

Chiropractic care, particularly spinal manipulation, focuses on manipulating the musculoskeletal system, joints, and the nervous system. The core philosophy behind this treatment is to realign subluxated joints, producing both short-term and long-term effects. It enhances neurological functions and movement, alleviating pain and improving the range of motion.

External stimuli, such as injuries or pressure, are transmitted to the brain via the nervous system, leading to pain sensations. Chiropractic care, by adjusting the spine’s position, can mitigate these adverse stimuli, thus reducing pain.

How Manipulation Technique Works on the Nervous System:

Mechanical Receptors: Joints, especially spinal ones, are abundant in mechanoreceptors (sensory receptors responsive to mechanical pressure or distortion). Adjusting or realigning a joint stimulates these receptors, sending signals to the brain.

Gate Control Theory: This theory posits that stimulating specific nerve fibres (activated during manual adjustments) can “close the gate” to pain signals, preventing them from reaching the brain.

Neuroplasticity: Chronic pain or dysfunction can modify how the brain processes and perceives pain. Manual therapy may induce positive neuroplastic changes, normalizing neural pathways.

The Safety of Chiropractic Care:

Many medical institutions worldwide recognize chiropractic care, especially spinal adjustment, as a safe and effective treatment method. However, like all medical interventions, it may have potential side effects.

Most patients feel relaxed post-treatment. Some might experience temporary discomfort, such as muscle soreness or mild headaches. This discomfort is a typical body response to the therapy and usually subsides within 24-48 hours.

Public Misconceptions about Chiropractic Care:

Despite its recognition in the medical community, misconceptions about chiropractic care persist among the general public. These misunderstandings may arise from a lack of knowledge or misinformation.

1. Many fear the audible cracking sound, mistakenly believing it indicates a bone fracture. In reality, this sound results from the release of joint gas from the synovial joint.

2. Some believe the effects of spinal manipulation last only 30 minutes to an hour. However, cavitation doesn’t reoccur within 30 minutes due to the vaporized joint fluid. Chiropractic adjustments that increase joint spaces can provide immediate pain relief.

3. Chiropractic treatment isn’t limited to spinal manipulation. Gentle techniques that don’t involve high-velocity, low-amplitude thrusts are also available. Various treatment options such as the activator method and Thompson technique cater to children, pregnant women, older people, and those apprehensive about manual adjustments.

4. Some label chiropractic as “pseudoscience” and believe it lacks evidence-based support. However, research exists supporting the effectiveness and safety of chiropractic care. More studies are needed, similar to the situation with traditional Chinese Medicine in the past.


Chiropractic care, a non-invasive and effective treatment method, has garnered recognition in the medical community. Whether addressing headaches, lower back pain, or other skeletal and joint issues, chiropractic care offers viable treatment solutions. Through this article, we aim to dispel misconceptions and provide a well-rounded understanding of chiropractic care, enabling informed decisions.