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Copley Health Alliance

Chiropractic & Massage

Boston | Copley Square | Back Bay

Do Spinal adjustments hurt?

Most people feel relief immediately after their treatments. In fact most people look forward to their chiropractic visits. Patients who are suffering with severe bouts of neck or back pain have some momentary discomfort with treatment because they are having discomfort with any movement; however they too usually have immediate relief.

Are Spinal Adjustments are dangerous?

Not only do studies show that Chiropractic spinal adjustments are safe but they have been shown to be safer than medical management of low back pain. The Ontario Ministry of Health commissioned a 1993 study which concluded;

"There is no clinical or case-control study that demonstrates or even implies that chiropractic spinal manipulation is unsafe in the treatment of low-back pain. Some medical treatments are equally safe, but others are unsafe and generate iatrogenic (doctor-induced) complications for low-back pain patients. Our reading of the literature suggests that chiropractic manipulation is safer than medical management of low-back pain."

The one Caution that was advised by Pran Manga, Ph.D. who lead the study, warned that spinal adjustments performed by health care professionals other than qualified doctors of chiropractic were potentially harmful and less effective:

"several existing medical therapies of low-back pain are generally contraindicated on the basis of the existing clinical trials. There is also some evidence in the literature to suggest that spinal manipulations are less safe and less effective when performed by nonchiropractic professionals."

The Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) of the US Department of Health and Human Services released clinical practice guidelines for the management of acute low back pain on December 8, 1994. Their guidelines were developed after extensive study of the diagnostic and treatment methods used for acute low back pain. Their findings included:

   The risk of serious complications from lumbar spinal manipulation is rare

   Conservative treatment such as spinal manipulation should be pursued in most cases before considering surgical intervention

   Prescription drugs such as oral steroids, antidepressant medications and colchicine are not recommended for acute low back problems

The Government of New Zealand published a 377 page report the result of a Commission that conducted approximately 2 years of hearings from recognized health care experts. They found…

   “Spinal manual therapy in the hands of a registered chiropractor is safe”

   “Chiropractors carry out spinal diagnosis and therapy at a sophisticated and refined level”

   “Chiropractors are the only health practioners who are necessarily equipped by their education and training to carry out spinal manipulation (spinal adjustments)

   The duration and training of a registered chiropractor are sufficient to enable him/her to determine whether there are contraindications to spinal manual therapy in a particular case, and whether that patient should have medical care instead of,or as well as chiropractic care”

Is Chiropractic Care Expensive?

Research studies clearly show this not to be true, please refer to the following studies;

The Manga Report, a 1993 Canadian government commissioned study,

"There would be highly significant cost savings if more management of low-back pain was transferred from physicians to chiropractors... Users of chiropractic care have substantially lower health care costs, especially inpatient costs, than those who use medical care only."

An economic analysis conducted in Richmond, Virginia concluded;

"By every test of cost and effectiveness, the general weight of evidence shows chiropractic to provide important therapeutic benefits, at economical costs. Additionally, these benefits are achieved with apparently minimal, even negligible, impacts on the costs of health insurance."

When the State of Florida's Workers' Compensation Board conducted research in 1988 on treatment costs associated with injured workers who received care from either chiropractic doctors or medical doctors, they found chiropractic treatment costs were 58.8 percent of the treatments costs rendered by medical doctors ($558 vs. $1,100 per case)

You’ll have to continue care for the rest of your life

Patients come to chiropractors for different reasons but the majority come seeking relief from a symptom, most commonly that symptom is pain. Patients who come for relief from pain may limit their care to symptomatic relief. Other patients choose to continue care until their problem has been resolved and the function of the affected area has been normalized. Some patients arrive at our office with permanent damage that limits the amount that we are able to improve function, not allowing us to fully correct it. In our office we educate patients regarding the different types of care and allow them to choose the path that makes the most sense to them. Patients who have permanent structural damage may need ongoing supportive care as they can never be fully restored to “normal” function. Further, most chiropractors promote a preventative type of lifestyle which as been construed by adversaries to mean that once a patient has had chiropractic care they will have to continue care for the rest of their life. Recommending preventative care is similar to the care given to any mechanical structure, your spine is a bio-mechanical structure… it moves! Or at least it should! We wouldn’t dream of driving a car without periodically aligning it, you might damage it! The soft tissue that surrounds and supports our spinal column (muscles and ligaments) are bombarded on a daily basis by stress originating from bad posture, poor ergonomic work environments, psychological stress and hectic lifestyles. For these reasons it makes sense to have periodic “alignments”, which will keep the bio-mechanical parts of our bodies running optimally. If the mechanics of our spinal joints misaligned then weight and stress is unevenly distributed; excessive wear and tear can and will occur over time, this results in Arthritis. The preventative approach in health care is gaining much recognition lately, and there are many new programs in the medical community and health insurance industry to incorporate preventative programs into mainstream medicine. This approach is practiced by dentists regularly to avoid unnecessary problems that can be prevented, you only have one set of permanent teeth and you only have one spine. Periodic Spinal care, just like periodic Dental care helps us avoid future problems. It’s safe, natural and a good way to avoid future problems.

Chiropractors Only Treat Back Pain

Chiropractors provide effective treatment for all types of musculoskeletal and soft tissue disorders, not just back and neck ailments. We routinely treat patients with injuries to the joints of the upper and lower extremities, like the ankle, knee and shoulder.

What is less commonly known is the success that chiropractors have in treating a number of non musculoskeletal conditions. Conditions like dysmenorrhea (painful menses), ulcers, migraine headaches, and ear infections in children often respond favorably to chiropractic care. While we cannot claim to cure these conditions, we believe that many of these problems can be mimicked, aggravated and some times caused by disruptions in the nervous system as a result of spinal misalignments. By correcting these spinal misalignments, (vertebral subluxations), chiropractic has helped thousands of individuals overcome these conditions and regain control of their lives.

In one study that supports these findings, spinal manipulative therapy was compared with standard medical treatments in the treatment of duodenal ulcers. The researchers Pikalov, MD, and Kharin, MD, found those subjects receiving spinal manipulations took an average of 16 days to heal vs. 26 days to heal in the standard medical treatment group.

Chiropractic Doctors Lack Education Compared With Medical Doctors

The training and education of chiropractors is extremely thorough and demanding, similar to that of medical doctors with the exception of pharmacology and surgery.

Prior to entering chiropractic college, the student requires 2-4 years (depending on the college attended and the state one wishes to practice in) of pre-med undergraduate studies. Once completed, the student must next complete 4-5 academic years of studies at a chiropractic college. This includes extensive training in anatomy, physiology, pathology, neurology, radiology, differential diagnosis, chiropractic adjustive techniques, biomechanics, and other health-related studies as outlined below in the table.

Prior graduation each student must successfully complete several hundred clinical hours of "real" patient management in a clinical setting under professional supervision. Most chiropractic colleges also require students to partake in clinical externship programs which place them in actual chiropractic offices, further enhancing their clinical practice skills.

In addition to the regular classroom examinations most colleges conduct oral examination to be able to advance from one year to the next. Near or Prior to graduation new doctors must pass the National Board examinations, once they have successfully completed all 5 parts they are then able to sit for State board exams, which they must pass prior to obtaining a license to practice chiropractic. Once licensed, most states, including the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, require that chiropractors receive annual continuing education to ensure that a high level of competency is maintained.

Subject Hours Comparison Between DC's and MD's


Class Hours
Chiropractic Students

Class Hours
Medical Students






































Spinal Manipulation
Advanced Radiology

General Surgery




Won’t this pain go away by itself?

Sometimes, symptoms resolve on their own, unfortunately that does not mean that the problem is gone. If the condition that caused the symptom is not corrected it may return, and in the interim it may cause damage, making the problem worse when it returns.

Won’t Medication fix the problem?

Most medications that are taken over the counter or prescribed to relieve pain are just that, pain relievers. They dull or eliminate the sensation of pain without fixing the problem, when the medication wears off the pain returns. In some cases patients need these medications to break the cycle of pain and inflammation, but they do not fix the problem that caused the pain and inflammation. Sometimes with the “warning” sensation of pain removed, patients may exceed what their injured body can handle and further injure or re-injure themselves.

How do joints get out of alignment?

Muscles in the body are attached to bones and joints throughout your body. When muscles are overused they “protect” themselves by contracting. Sometimes this happens suddenly as in a car accident and sometimes it happens over time from poor posture, or ergonomic situations. The contraction pulls on the joints leading to misalignment. Some symptoms of misalignment are decreased range of motion, stiffness, aching, pain or in some more severe cases pain that radiates down an arm or leg from compression of a nerve.

I’m not in pain now, can chiropractic help?

Since almost everyone has some degree of stress they experience muscle tightness and imbalance, this can cause a mild degree of misalignment. Correcting these minor problems can increase range of motion, give relief from minor aches and pains that we have come to believe are “normal” and prevent future more serious problems.
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