An adjustment might be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about going to the chiropractor. Manual adjustment is the mainstay of chiropractic care. It aims to realign vertebrae to restore function and reduce pain. But pain relief often calls for a multi-treatment approach. This is why many chiropractors offer other pain-relieving treatments, in addition to adjustments. These supplementary treatments aim to relieve soft tissue pain and speed healing. Here are five treatments your chiropractor may offer.
1. Laser Therapy
Cold laser therapy is an FDA-approved treatment that uses red and near-infrared light to stimulate cellular healing. It works similarly to photosynthesis in plants. The light acts as a catalyst for cells, causing them to produce collagen, a key component of tissue building.
The laser also brings circulation to the area. Blood flow is vital to healing because it carries healing factors and immune cells. Areas that don’t receive robust blood flow, like joints, tendons, and ligaments, often struggle to heal. Bringing circulation to these areas can jumpstart a stalled healing process, moving it past the inflammatory stage and toward complete healing. This relieves pain and allows strong tissues to form that won’t be as prone to re-injury.
Laser therapy is a comfortable and quick treatment. Patients usually report a slight warming sensation at the treatment site. A typical laser therapy session takes under ten minutes. This makes it easy to fit into a busy schedule or add to an appointment. Chiropractors often recommend laser therapy alongside adjustments, but sometimes use it on its own to treat soft tissue injuries and repetitive use injuries like carpal tunnel or tennis elbow.
2. Ultrasound Therapy
As you may have guessed from the name, ultrasound therapy uses sound waves to treat pain. It’s an FDA-approved treatment that has no side effects when correctly administered. Chiropractors and other medical professionals use ultrasound therapy as a noninvasive method of pain relief. It can treat muscle spasms, chronic pain, and acute injuries like sprains and strains.
Ultrasound therapy works by creating small vibrations within tissues using sound waves. These vibrations reduce inflammation and swelling and help break up excess scar tissue. Old injuries that are still stiff and painful sometimes have scar tissue adhesions. Ultrasound therapy can help you regain function and relieve pain in these old injuries. It can also warm the tissues, relaxing muscles, and soothing spasms.
Since ultrasound therapy brings circulation to the area, some benefits are similar to laser therapy. Treated areas may heal faster and with healthier scar tissue than untreated injuries. Ultrasound therapy is also a quick treatment that typically lasts between five and ten minutes. Your chiropractor may recommend using it with adjustments for back pain or whiplash injuries.
Ultrasound therapy isn’t painful, but it may cause a small amount of discomfort when the wand passes over a tender area. Most patients notice an improvement in symptoms right away after treatment.
3. Dry Needling
You might be familiar with saline injections that break up trigger points (knots) and relieve pain. Decades ago, doctors discovered that using a small needle without injecting saline is just as effective. The process of dry needling looks and feels similar to acupuncture. The difference is the placement of the needles. While acupuncturists place needles at certain meridian points that are believed to affect body systems, dry needling targets the sore muscle directly.
Your chiropractor may recommend dry needling if you have knots (also called adhesions or trigger points) causing pain. Though dry needling is proven effective, the exact reasons it works are not fully known. Researchers suspect it relieves pain in multiple ways. The small injury created by the needle may prompt the body to begin a healing process in the area that also affects the lesions responsible for your pain. It probably also stimulates the nervous system to contract and relax muscles. This may be why dry needling successfully relaxes hard, tense muscles. It’s also possible that dry needling causes the body to release endorphins, which, combined with the other effects, further reduce pain.
Patients struggling with whiplash, disc injuries, or other spinal problems often have knots that form as soft tissues try to compensate for spinal abnormalities. These knots can remain even after your spinal curves and stability are restored. For many, dry needling is the final ingredient needed to relieve their pain.
Receiving a massage at your chiropractor’s office can have many benefits. Massage therapists who work in these settings are typically prepared to treat patients experiencing pain and injury. They can use different massage techniques to increase flexibility and blood flow, break up adhesions and relax tense muscles.
Massage increases circulation, which, as we’ve already discussed, is vital for healing. It also causes the body to produce endorphins and other “feel-good” chemicals. These fight pain and can relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression. For this reason, massage is often recommended for patients dealing with chronic pain. It’s also beneficial for sports injuries, back pain, headaches, and migraines.
5. Nutritional Advice
Pain is a complex condition. It involves hormones, the immune system, and the nervous system. Nutrition plays an essential role in keeping the body in balance. A healthy diet can keep excess inflammation in check, balance stress hormones, and create other changes that can decrease your sensitivity to pain. Nutritional deficits slow healing and make you more prone to chronic pain after an injury. Chiropractors provide nutritional and lifestyle advice to help you keep your body at its best.
Pain Relief in Northern Kentucky
At All Star Chiropractic, we provide comprehensive care for patients dealing with pain and injury. Our Hebron and Covington locations now provide ultrasound therapy and dry needling. Schedule a consultation today to find out how chiropractic care can help you live pain-free.