Is Chiropractic Just for Pain?

Your body contains roughly 60 different chemicals and each one is responsible for very different functions and regulatory actions. For instance, calcium helps your muscles contract and potassium regulates your heartbeat. Sodium controls the balance of water in your system and fluorine protects your teeth against decay. There are also four chemicals associated with management of pain, and a study published in Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy has found that chiropractic promotes almost all of them.

For purposes of this study, researchers chose thirty participants who weren’t actively in any sort of pain to see what effect chiropractic treatments had on their levels of neurotensin, oxytocin, orexin A, and cortisol—the four chemicals that impact how much pain a person feels. The subjects were separated into three different groups: ten engaged in cervical spinal adjusting(chiropractic involving the neck area), ten received thoracic spinal adjustments (adjustment to the discs and vertebrae in the middle and upper back), and the final ten subjects were the control group, so they received no spinal adjustments whatsoever. Researchers drew each individual’s blood prior to, immediately after, and two hours post-treatment to determine the starting levels of neurotensin, oxytocin, orexin A, and cortisol, as well as to note any changes that may occur.

Immediately upon conclusion of the spinal adjustment sessions, researchers found “significantly higher” levels of both neurotensin and oxytocin in the participants who received either form of spinal adjustments. Cortisol levels increased only for the subjects who engaged in cervical spinal adjustments, and orexin A levels were unaffected by the chiropractic care entirely.

These findings suggest that engaging in regular chiropractic care can help your pain on a cellular level by changing the chemical makeup of your body. Not to mention, regular spinal adjustments also work to correct the spinal issue that is causing the pain in the first place. This makes chiropractic an effective two-prong approach to pain management.

Plaza-Manzano G, Molina F, Lomas-Vega R, et al. Changes in biochemical markers of pain perception and stress response after spinal manipulation. Journal Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy 2014;44(4):231-9.

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