If your symptoms are very bad or are getting worse, or if you're getting new symptoms, be sure to tell your doctor.
Spinal manipulation, also called spinal adjustment, is a therapy that uses pressure on a joint of the spine. It is used to improve pain and function. Manipulation can be done with the hands or a special device. The careful, controlled force used on the joint can range from gentle to strong, and from slow to rapid. Sometimes, other joints of the body are also worked on to help treat the spine.
Spinal manipulation can also be used with other treatments, such as medicines, exercise, and physical therapy.
Health care providers who are commonly trained to do spinal manipulation include:
Spinal manipulation can work as well as other treatments for low back pain that is new or back pain that has lasted a long time. Like most low back pain treatments, spinal manipulation works for some people but not for others.1
Whenever you are looking for a health care provider who is trained to do spinal manipulation, ask friends about who they do and don't like, and why. Check the background and education of providers you're interested in. It is sometimes helpful to have a visit to make sure you are comfortable with a provider's practice style.
Make your family doctor aware of your other providers and the treatments you are getting.
Spinal manipulation is safe when performed by a trained health care provider. Some people feel tired or sore after treatment.
A very rare but serious nerve problem, which can cause weakness or a bladder or bowel problem, may be related to spinal manipulation. But some experts question whether it is related.
|Have spinal manipulation||Use other treatment|
|What is usually involved?|
|What are the benefits?|
|What are the risks and side effects?|
Are you interested in what others decided to do? Many people have faced this decision. These personal stories may help you decide.
These stories are based on information gathered from health professionals and consumers. They may be helpful as you make important health decisions.
"I grew up in a family that swears by spinal manipulation. When I moved out on my own in another city, I went to the chiropractor down the street from me when I hurt my back. I didn't feel comfortable. This guy had a totally different approach than my old chiropractor. After asking various friends, I found another chiropractor I felt more comfortable with."
— Tara, age 24
"I've put up with bouts of this back pain over the years, but this time I couldn't walk right. After a couple of days, a friend of mine suggested I see his osteopathic doctor to have my spine worked on. I didn't know much about spinal manipulation, but I thought I'd give it a try. And you know, after three visits, my pain got a lot better."
— Joe, age 40
"I'm pretty careful about who I choose for my medical care. So I did some research before going to see someone about treating my back pain. I'd heard about some people who actually felt worse after spinal manipulation. I'd also heard from friends that manipulation helped them a lot. So I talked to my doctor and got the name of a chiropractor. I talked to her on the phone ahead of time about how she practices. She sounded great. After I made sure that she was covered by my health insurance, I took the first appointment that was available. A few appointments and daily exercises at home have brought me such relief!"
— Sandra, age 37
"I went to a physical therapist who has helped me with my back with spinal manipulation before. But this time my symptoms were different and he was concerned. I had pain and weakness in my leg that was getting worse. My physical therapist worked with my family doctor and I was referred to a neurosurgeon. I eventually needed surgery."
— Dave, age 55
Your personal feelings are just as important as the medical facts. Think about what matters most to you in this decision, and show how you feel about the following statements.
Reasons to choose spinal manipulation
Reasons not to choose spinal manipulation
I am comfortable with treatment that involves hands-on contact.
I don't like the idea of treatments that involve physical contact.
I want to avoid using medicine for my pain.
Medicine or another treatment will help relieve my pain.
My other important reasons:
My other important reasons:
Now that you've thought about the facts and your feelings, you may have a general idea of where you stand on this decision. Show which way you are leaning right now.
Trying spinal manipulation
NOT trying spinal manipulation
1. Do most people with low back pain get better with good home treatment?
2. Is spinal manipulation a back pain treatment that works for everyone?
1. Do you understand the options available to you?
2. Are you clear about which benefits and side effects matter most to you?
3. Do you have enough support and advice from others to make a choice?
1. How sure do you feel right now about your decision?
2. Check what you need to do before you make this decision.
3. Use the following space to list questions, concerns, and next steps.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Robert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics|