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Being diagnosed with cancer and undergoing procedures or treatments to fight the disease can impose significant stress on your musculoskeletal system, including your bones, muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments.
You may experience aches and pains in your back or neck, headaches, sciatica (pain that radiates from your lower back to the back of your leg), or difficulty moving and walking.
At Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), experienced chiropractors can help reduce pain and discomfort, increase mobility, strength and function, and help improve patients' overall well-being.
Dr. James Rosenberg, National Director of Chiropractic Care at CTCA, encourages patients to make chiropractic care part of their treatment plan: “Chiropractic care is one of the most commonly practiced and widely accepted therapies utilized today. And at CTCA, it’s a piece of the puzzle. It’s another way in which we’re taking care of the body as a whole," he says.
What is Chiropractic?
Chiropractic is a form of healthcare pertaining to the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of musculoskeletal health problems, such as lower back pain and neck problems, as well as the effects musculoskeletal problems have on the nervous system and general health.
Who are Chiropractors?
Chiropractors, also known as doctors of chiropractic, treat and alleviate bone, muscle or joint pain without the use of drugs or surgical treatment. These licensed clinicians use a non-invasive, manual procedure to manipulate the joints of the body, particularly the spine.
Chiropractors’ education and training consists of four years of undergraduate study, usually in a science concentration, followed by four years of chiropractic study at an accredited chiropractic college. Like medical doctors, chiropractors must also pass rigorous national board examinations, as well as a licensing exam for the state in which they choose to practice.
How Can Chiropractic Care Help Cancer Patients?
Dr. Rosenberg says chiropractic care can be beneficial to many cancer patients’ overall health.
He notes, “By adjusting and connecting the musculoskeletal dysfunctions, we often reduce stress to the nervous system, which in turn, can help restore the body’s ability to heal. It’s also a way of helping the body to function better.”
Chiropractic treatment can relieve pain and stiffness in your joints and muscles caused or intensified by surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Specifically, chiropractic adjustment helps to properly align the spine and other joints and restore nerve function. It can also help alleviate a variety of symptoms, including:
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- Sciatic nerve pain
- Painful walking
- Neuropathy (pain or numbness in the hands and feet)
While chiropractic care can be helpful to patients undergoing treatment, there are some precautions which should be taken to ensure safe delivery of care. A chiropractor should always review the patient's most recent X-rays and bone scans to ensure there is no bone metastasis. Also, the patient’s platelet count should be carefully monitored.
What is Involved in Chiropractic Treatment?
Chiropractic treatment seeks to reduce subluxation, which is the abnormal motion or position of joints. It occurs when a joint is out of alignment and/or when a joint is restricted from moving and functioning as it should.
Subluxation can occur when one or more of the vertebrae (bones of your spine) moves out of position and creates pressure on your spinal nerves, impairing your nervous system. It can also result when a joint, such as a knee, locks up and is prevented from moving fluidly.
Chiropractors evaluate patients to pinpoint the source of subluxation. They then use a type of hands-on therapy called manipulation or adjustment as their core clinical procedure to try to correct the problem.
When patients receive a chiropractic adjustment, they typically lay down on a special treatment table. The chiropractor then uses his or her hands and/or special equipment to apply gentle pressure and small adjustments to the spine (including vertebrae) and/or other joints in the body, such as knees, ankles, hands or feet.
Sometimes, a popping or cracking sound may be made as the chiropractor applies an adjustment. This is perfectly normal and harmless. When an adjustment is made, joints are separated slightly. The cracking or popping sound is produced when pockets of gas are released as the joint separation occurs.
Occasionally, patients may experience mild discomfort lasting for a short duration following a chiropractic adjustment. The majority of patients, however, experience immediate relief.
Additional Chiropractic Techniques
In addition to chiropractic adjustments, chiropractors use other techniques which may be relaxing and enjoyable, including:
- Electrical stimulation of the muscles
- Heat and ice therapy
- Trigger point therapy
- Myofascial release
- Neuro-muscular re-education
- Flexion-distraction technique
- Neuropathy treatment
- Application of special instruments
- Nonforce techniques
Chiropractors also recommend exercises that help correct various problems related to bones, muscles, joints and nerves.
Chiropractic Care at CTCA
At our hospitals, chiropractic care can become an important of your healing process and can contribute to your wellness. Your caregiver can also receive chiropractic care at CTCA.
Dr. Rosenberg says there are a number of reasons why you should consider making chiropractic care part of your treatment plan.
He emphasizes, “Here, you can take advantage of a program that’s truly integrated and where chiropractors are fully aware of your medical condition, latest tests and treatments. Furthermore, we communicate such information to our patients’ local chiropractors.”
If you’re interested in chiropractic care, let your care team know. As a patient, we can arrange for you to meet with a chiropractor for a consultation.
Your chiropractor will review your medical records, most recent diagnostic imaging and laboratory tests and medical history, and communicate with your oncologist(s) to ensure that chiropractic treatment is an appropriate option for you. Some cancer patients may have restrictions on the extent of chiropractic care they can receive, such as patients who have bone metastasis.
During your consultation, your chiropractor will talk with you to learn about symptoms you may be experiencing. He or she will also examine your spine and posture and perform a detailed evaluation. Your chiropractor will then offer recommendations for chiropractic treatment.
After you have completed cancer treatment at CTCA, your chiropractor can make arrangements for you to continue chiropractic care with a chiropractor near your home.