We hear about people going to chiropractors all the time for different reasons: back pain, neck pain, muscle stiffness, headaches, and so on. People with cancer seek chiropractic care too, to relieve the aches and pains caused or aggravated by the disease and its treatments.
It can be uncomfortable to lie on a table for long periods of time for radiation treatments. Surgical procedures can cause pain in connective tissues and joints. Chemotherapy drugs can cause nausea, headaches, neuropathy and other unpleasant side effects.
For someone with cancer, chiropractic care can help to:
- Alleviate back and neck pain/stiffness
- Restore nerve function
- Improve mobility and balance
- Reduce muscle tension and joint inflammation
- Relieve headaches, nausea, fatigue
“Many chiropractic patients have reported improvement in non-muscular and skeletal complaints, such as breathing easier, better digestion, reduced peripheral neuropathy, and reduced headaches,” says Dr. Jeffrey Sklar, Medical Director of Chiropractor Services at CTCA in Philadelphia.
But what exactly do chiropractors do? Chiropractors, also known as doctors of chiropractic, use a drug-free, hands-on approach to correct musculoskeletal problems and restore nerve function so the body can work more efficiently as a whole. Treatment is non-invasive and often involves spinal manipulation, also called chiropractic adjustment.
“A common misconception about chiropractic is that it is an aggressive modality that could hurt. In fact there are numerous chiropractic techniques that are gentle - from low force to non-force - that can effectively restore and optimize function of the muscular and skeletal systems,” says Dr. Sklar.
While chiropractic care can be helpful for many, it’s not for everyone. It’s contraindicated for patients with bone metastases, cord compression, thrombosis in an extremity, or low platelet counts. To ensure safe and appropriate care, a patient’s cancer team and chiropractor should work closely together, including regular monitoring of diagnostic tests and lab results.
Many people with cancer look for ways to relieve symptoms and stay strong during treatment. Chiropractic care may help some get through treatment more comfortably and get on with life.
Read tips for incorporating chiropractic care during cancer treatment.