When it comes to treating certain types of spinal cord injuries, some patients may benefit from chiropractic treatment. Although there are many causes of traumatic spinal cord injury, motor vehicle accidents and falls are two of the most common. When the spinal cord is compressed, twisted sideways or pulled, this can impair blood supply, stretch tissues, pinch nerves and damage ligaments, bone and discs.
Chiropractic care, when performed by qualified, licensed practitioners, can be tremendously helpful in reducing neck, back and joint pain associated with rotation, compression and hyper-extension injuries to the spinal cord. This includes biomechanical problems associated with whiplash, herniated discs, bruising, reduced mobility and misalignment of the spinal cord.
How chiropractic treatment helps with recovery
Every patient is unique, but it’s generally recommended to wait at least six months after diagnosis to allow the injury to stabilize before seeking rehabilitation with chiropractic care.
Chiropractic treatment is often utilized to help speed recovery in mild spinal cord injuries by aligning the vertebra in the spinal column (cervical and back). This helps to alleviate pressure on the spinal cord, improve blood flow, which in turn reduces pain and encourages healing.
While chiropractors perform spinal manipulation to treat subluxation (misalignment of the spine), they also employ a variety of techniques to relieve pain and improve mobility. These modalities include:
Massage therapy to help minimize inflammation of the soft tissue surrounding the nerves
Applied pressure and hands-on adjustments of the vertebrae
Cold and heat treatment on affected areas to increase circulation and reduce inflammation
Recommendations for rehabilitative exercises to stretch and strengthen
Counseling on nutrition to help the body heal from within
Chiropractors do not prescribe medications or pain killers, and instead focus on a holistic approach to treating musculoskeletal problems. A treatment plan will be devised after a physical examination with palpitation, and thorough review of X-rays, ultra-sound tests and/or MRIs or CT scans.
In cases involving more severe spinal cord injuries, including those that require surgical intervention, it is important to consult your primary physician before seeking complementary therapies like chiropractic adjustments. This includes patients who have had spinal cord stimulation, vertebroplasty, kyphoplasty or surgery for spinal fractures.
Complementary techniques used by chiropractors
Decades of scientific research has been dedicated to finding medical treatments and alternative therapies designed to enhance the short and long-term consequences of spinal cord injuries, which affect more than 500,000 people each year.
Chiropractic clinics may offer or recommend complementary therapies to promote recovery:
Ultrasound therapy to increase blood flow and reduce swelling
Acupuncture on meridian points to improve sensory function and reduce pain
Massage therapy to improve circulation, range of motion and reduce pain
Trigger point injections, also known as prolotherapy
EMS – electrical muscle stimulation to strengthen muscle, manage inflammation and control pain
Chiropractic care is a non-invasive, natural method to relieve discomfort and promote healing in many kinds of non-threatening or less serious spinal cord injuries, and may help patients achieve a better quality of life.