Posted by: Dr. Paul Zemella - Santa Barbara Chiropractor | August 24, 2011

Santa Barbara Chiropractic Services for Arthritis

The Chiropractic Services for arthritis depends on whether the chiropractor is a “straight” chiropractor or a “mixed” chiropractor. Straight chiropractors treat arthritis by manipulating the spine to correct subluxation and other imbalances, thus allowing the body to heal itself.
The mixed chiropractor will likely treat arthritis with a combination of spinal manipulation and other therapies. Mixed chiropractors will carefully evaluate a patient in order to determine the cause of the arthritis. In some cases, the problem may be related to an injury that happened many years ago that resulted in several vertebra to fuse together in the spine.

The mixed Chiropractic Services may manipulate the spine in order to: 1) “free” the fused vertebra, if necessary and 2) realign the damaged areas above and below, allowing the spine to operate properly in the future.

Mixed chiropractors may also call for physical therapy, nutritional supplements to help you rebuild your back muscles and overall health, stretching and strengthening exercises and spine maintenance education (how to walk, sit, lift, etc.).

Chiropractic medicine operates on the theory that the improper alignment of the vertebrae (there are twenty-four verterbrae that make up the spinal column) and the spinal cord they protect is the cause of diseases and disorders. Chiropractors apply pressure in a specific manner to allow the vertebrae in the spinal column to realign themselves. But most Chiropractic Services do more than manipulating the spinal column. They are whole body healers by paying attention to factors such as nutrition, stress management, etc.

New Research Shows Wide Usage and Satisfaction

A study recently published in the Annals of Internal Medicine1 has found that 63% of people who visited a rheumatologist for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia conditions also sought some form of “complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).” Chiropractic Services was not only the most sought after form of CAM for those patients, but it was also among those found to be most helpful for these conditions.

The research investigators decided to look at alternative forms of care for rheumatological conditions, because they “provide an optimal disease framework in which to examine patients’ reasons for using CAM and for discussing this use with their physicians. These conditions are prevalent,2 have no known cause or cure, are characterized by chronic pain and a variable disease course, and often adversely affect the functional status. The authors recruited patients from six locations: three university practices and three private rheumatology practices. The three university practices included a municipal hospital, a Veterans Affairs Medical Center and a fee-for-service specialty care practice. Existing patients who kept a scheduled appointment over a two-week period were eligible; patients who were new to the practice, under the age of 18, had dementia, or resided in a nursing home were excluded.

Of 428 eligible patients, 232 (54%) patients responded to the survey. Of those, 146 reported using at least one type of CAM for their rheumatologic condition.

Chiropractic Services was at the top of the list of alternative forms of care ever used, with nearly 31% (45 of 146) trying chiropractic care at least once (please see graph on the front page). It was followed by: copper bracelets or magnets; herbal therapies; electrical stimulators; vinegar preparations; diet supplements; and other treatments.

Among forms of CAM that were “regularly used” by those who had tried it, Chiropractic Services came in second behind herbal therapies, followed by: copper bracelets and magnets; electric stimulators; diet supplements; and other treatments.

But perhaps the most telling factor in the study was which forms of CAM patients found “helpful.” Seventy-three percent of patients who had tried Chiropractic Services (33 of 45) found it to be helpful, placing chiropractic second percentage-wise behind spiritual healing. Special diets was ranked third, followed by acupuncture; salves; electrical stimulators; and herbal therapies. The rest of the CAM treatments were found to be “helpful” by fewer than 50% of the people who tried them.

An additional aspect of this study was the effort to determine why these arthritic patients chose CAM and why they did, or did not, inform their medical physician:

Interestingly enough, still only 45% of the patients told their physicians about CAM use for their arthritic conditions. But it was also refreshing to see that 71% of the rheumatologists said it was “OK” for their patients to use CAM. The reasons why these patients chose CAM are somewhat typical: to control pain; because they’ve heard it will help; because it’s safe; because it helped someone they know; and because their prescribed medication isn’t working. Sixty-three percent of the patients in this study reported using CAM at least once, and over 90% of them were doing so on a regular basis. This would eq-uate to 57% of all arthritic patients using CAM on a regular basis.

With such a high percentage of regular adult arthritic patients using CAM, and with Chiropractic Services being the most popular and considered the most helpful (behind spiritual healing), one has to wonder if this trend shouldn’t be considered by the health care establishment (particularly the managed care companies) and the insurance companies who set policy about what they will and won’t pay for. If patients find another form of care helpful, particularly if their prescribed medication isn’t working, shouldn’t it be reimbursed for?

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