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Chiropractor for Low Back Pain: Is It Worth It?

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Chronic low back pain can be a debilitating condition affecting countless individuals worldwide, including those in the United States. Low back pain can impact daily life, making even the simplest activities challenging. The need for effective treatments and therapies for low back pain is pressing, and chiropractic care has proven to be a viable option.

Chiropractic care involves the assessment, diagnosis, and management of various musculoskeletal conditions, primarily through manipulation and other therapeutic techniques. This practice has gained popularity among those seeking a non-invasive, drug-free approach to alleviating their low back pain.

Causes of Low Back Pain

Low back pain is a common condition that can affect people of all ages. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including injury, poor posture, and structural issues.

Injury is a common contributor to low back pain. It can be caused by accidents, falls, or heavy lifting. Overuse injuries can also occur from activities such as sports or repetitive motions. These injuries can cause structural damage and inflammation, resulting in low back pain.

Poor posture can also contribute to low back pain. Slouching or sitting for extended periods can place strain on the muscles and ligaments in the lower back, causing pain and discomfort. Similarly, standing for prolonged periods or wearing unsupportive shoes can also lead to low back pain.

Structural issues, such as herniated discs or spinal stenosis, can also cause low back pain. These conditions involve abnormalities in the spinal column that place pressure on the nerves or spinal cord. These conditions can be caused by aging, obesity, or genetics.

However, chiropractic care can address the root causes of low back pain. Chiropractors are trained to identify and treat musculoskeletal issues that can contribute to low back pain. They use a variety of techniques, including spinal adjustments, massage therapy, and exercise, to help reduce pain and improve mobility.

Chiropractors focus on treating the whole body and not just the symptoms. They work to identify the underlying cause of pain and develop a treatment plan that addresses all of the contributing factors.

Chiropractic Care Explained

Chiropractic care is a holistic approach to healthcare that emphasizes the role of the musculoskeletal system in overall health and wellness. The central principle of chiropractic care is that the body has an innate ability to heal itself, and that by removing any interference to this natural healing process, the body can function optimally.

Chiropractors use a variety of techniques and methods to address joint misalignments, muscle tension, and nerve interference. These misalignments, also known as subluxations, can cause pain, inflammation, and other health problems. By applying controlled force to these areas, chiropractors can restore proper alignment and alleviate symptoms.

Some common chiropractic techniques include:

  • Spinal manipulation: A hands-on approach that involves applying controlled force to specific areas of the spine to restore proper alignment and function.
  • Mobilization: A gentler approach that involves moving the joints within their natural range of motion to improve mobility and reduce pain.
  • Massage: A technique that involves applying pressure and manipulation to the soft tissues of the body to relieve tension and promote relaxation.
  • Stretching and exercise: Chiropractors often recommend specific stretches and exercises to improve joint function and prevent future injuries.

Chiropractors also prioritize patient education and empowerment, emphasizing the importance of self-care and preventative measures. They may offer advice on lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise, and provide tips on how to maintain good posture and prevent injuries.

The Benefits of Chiropractic Care for Low Back Pain

Chiropractic care has gained popularity in recent years as an alternative to traditional medical treatments for low back pain. The evidence-based benefits of chiropractic care have been studied extensively, and the results are significant. Here are some of the benefits of chiropractic care compared to traditional medical treatments for low back pain:

  • Improved Function: Chiropractic adjustments can lead to reduced pain and improved function in everyday activities. Patients who receive chiropractic care for low back pain report fewer limitations in their daily lives.
  • Reduced Need for Pain Medication: Unlike traditional medical treatments that often rely on pain medication, chiropractic care can offer drug-free pain relief. This is especially important for those who are concerned about the potential side effects of pain medication.
  • Lower Risk of Invasive Procedures: Chiropractic care is a non-invasive treatment approach that does not require surgery. This means that patients who receive chiropractic care for low back pain are at a lower risk of complications associated with invasive procedures.
  • Cost-Effective: Traditional medical treatments for low back pain can be costly, including the cost of medication, imaging tests, and procedures. Chiropractic care is often more cost-effective and can offer long-term relief without the need for ongoing medical intervention.
  • Holistic Approach: Chiropractors take a holistic approach to patient care, addressing not only the symptoms of low back pain but also the underlying causes. This approach can help patients achieve long-term relief and improved overall health.

Risks and Considerations of Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care has been found to be a safe and effective treatment for low back pain for many individuals. However, as with any medical treatment, there are potential risks and side effects that should be considered.

In rare cases, chiropractic care can result in adverse events, such as herniated disc or worsening of existing conditions. It is crucial to ensure that a qualified chiropractor performs the treatment as improper manipulation can lead to damage to the spinal nerves or blood vessels.

Choosing the right chiropractor is essential in mitigating risks. Patients should look for a qualified and licensed chiropractor who has undergone the necessary training and education process. Qualified chiropractors are held to strict standards of practice and follow specific guidelines to ensure patient safety and health.

Furthermore, individuals with certain medical conditions, such as severe osteoporosis or nerve damage, may not be ideal candidates for chiropractic care. Patients should always inform their chiropractor of any underlying health issues or pre-existing conditions before undergoing treatment.

When considering chiropractic care, it is essential to have a thorough discussion with the chiropractor before undergoing any treatment. An experienced chiropractor will explain the potential risks and side effects of treatment and help the patient decide if chiropractic care is the right treatment for their needs.

By choosing a qualified chiropractor and understanding the potential risks and side effects, patients can feel confident in their decision to pursue chiropractic care for low back pain and other conditions.


It is important to note that chiropractic care is not without risks and considerations. Potential side effects such as soreness, discomfort, or even stroke exist, and it is vital to choose a qualified chiropractor.

With that in mind, our recommendation is to give chiropractic care a try for low back pain. Patients should consider the cause and severity of their condition, and consult with a qualified chiropractor to discuss the potential risks and benefits of treatment. Overall, chiropractic care can provide a natural and effective method for managing low back pain that can improve daily life and long-term health outcomes.


What is chiropractic care? Chiropractic care is a natural, drug-free approach to healing that focuses on the body's ability to heal itself. Chiropractors use spinal adjustment and other techniques to improve the body's alignment and function.

Can chiropractic care help with low back pain? Yes, chiropractic care can be highly effective in treating low back pain. By improving spinal alignment, chiropractors can reduce inflammation and improve nerve function, which can ease pain and improve mobility.

Are there any risks associated with chiropractic care? Like any form of medical treatment, there are risks associated with chiropractic care. These risks may include soreness, stiffness, and even minor injuries. However, these risks are rare, and most people find chiropractic care to be safe and effective.

How do I choose a qualified chiropractor? When choosing a chiropractor, it's important to look for someone who is licensed, experienced, and has a good reputation. You may also want to look for someone who specializes in treating your specific condition, such as low back pain.

Is chiropractic care covered by insurance?Many insurance companies cover chiropractic care, although the specific coverage may vary depending on your insurance plan. Be sure to check with your insurance company to find out what chiropractic services are covered.

William H. McDaniel, MD

Dr. Robert H. Shmerling is the former clinical chief of the division of rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), and is a current member of the corresponding faculty in medicine at Harvard Medical School.

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