According to a Sep. 9, 2009, article by Dr. Charles Masarsky in "Dynamic Chiropractic," the long-term health benefits of chiropractic care may include the following: retention of lung capacity, improved visual acuity, reaction time and balance, and enhanced cardiovascular health. Important short-term benefits of chiropractic care include pain reduction, improved joint range of motion and enhanced quality of life.
One of the principle benefits of chiropractic care--and chiropractic manipulative therapy (CMT), in particular--is the reduction of symptomatic musculoskeletal complaints, including pain. According to a 1999 study published in "The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association," when CMT was applied to the side of neck pain versus manipulation on the side opposite the pain or to a placebo group, acute neck pain patients showed less pain intensity and a greater range of neck motion.
Chiropractic care is also effective at treating low back pain. A 1995 study published in the "British Medical Journal" states that, after three years of treatment, patients receiving chiropractic care for low back pain derived more benefit and long-term satisfaction than patients treated by hospital therapists. The researchers suggest that chiropractic care for low back pain may be more effective because chiropractic patients often receive more treatments over longer time periods.
Improved Joint Range of Motion
Chiropractic care emphasizes joint health and attempts to optimize patients' range of motion. In fact, the ability of a patient to move body segments--including the spine and extremities--through full, dynamic ranges of motion is an outcome marker most chiropractors use to determine a patient's progression toward optimal structural health and fitness.
When appropriate, chiropractors may use CMT to help improve a patient's segmental joint range of motion, but many chiropractors will also perform soft tissue work on muscles, ligaments and tendons surrounding a joint to augment or enhance the effects of CMT. Many chiropractors will prescribe specific range of motion exercises for their patients, which can be performed at home on a daily basis. According to the American Chiropractic Association, range of motion exercises help maintain normal joint movement, increase joint flexibility and improve a patients ability to perform their activities of daily living in a pain-free state.
Enhanced Quality of Life
Many patients who receive chiropractic care report an enhanced quality of life as one of the most significant benefits. According to a 2001 study published in the "Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics," chiropractic care is effective in managing cancer patients' pain and improving their quality of life. A holistic chiropractor utilizing multiple treatment modalities spends a significant amount of time with her patients, counsels patients on their diet and lifestyle, emphasizes home care and provides appropriate referrals to other local providers--both alternative and biomedical--based on the individual's presentation.
Patients' satisfaction with chiropractic care and their enhanced quality of life often is tied to the amount of time the chiropractor spends with them and the individualized care they receive. This is also true of patients receiving care from other health care professionals, such as naturopathic physicians, who search for and treat the root causes of illness.