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Chiro for Cancer

  • What is a chiropractor?

Chiropractic is based on the concept of removing interference between the body and the brain by manipulation which impacts the nervous system allowing the body to heal itself. In other words, getting the spine straightened out allows the brain to send out signals that can help the body's immune system work better. A chiropractor is a doctor who has studied a four year curriculum consisting of the basic sciences comparable to an allopathic education over the first two years, with the emphasis in the last two years on clinical sciences related to the neuro- musculoskeletal system.

  • Why would my spine need “straightening out?”

There are many sources of interference in our society. These include chemical (dietary and environmental stress), physical (big traumas/injuries and repetitive microtraumas like sitting at a desk all day) and emotional stress. Cancer patients and their caregivers might have all of these happening at once.

Individual people manifest these in different ways depending on their lifestyle and their genetic predispositions. The term used by chiropractors when these interferences are identified is the word "subluxation.” If you have these, which most people do, then you will likely benefit from chiropractic.

  • What is a trip to the chiropractor like?

After a thorough work up including history, orthopedic, neurologic,postural and palpatory examinations, the chiropractor is likely to order x-rays to further analyze your structure as it relates to your function. The chiropractor will be looking to identify if any subluxations (abnormal alignment and/or movement patterns between adjacent vertebrae) exist. Once located,these subluxations will be adjusted in order to eliminate or reduce them, thereby addressing the often underlying root cause of a host of symptoms associated with nerve system dysfunction. The term spinal manipulation is the technique used by the majority of chiropractors whereby, most commonly, the spinal joints are moved to achieve increased mobility and/or better alignment.

  • Has chiropractic been proven to help cancer patients?

Although the benefits of chiropractic care in treating patients with specific cancers has not been proven, there are several relevant facts to keep in mind when considering adding chiropractic care to one's healthcare regimen. Improved immune system function has been correlated to spinal manipulation.

The mechanisms for this response are not well understood but may relate to the fact that, just as exercise improves immune system function,the by-product of spinal manipulation sends a barrage of impulses to the brain which similarly stimulates the immune system. Regardless of these indirect effects on overall wellness, the increased structural mobility and function provided to cancer patients is a valuable consideration. Just like anyone suffering from musculoskeletal pain, cancer patients, who are often less active and therefore experience other problems associated with immobility (like back, neck and headache pain), may also benefit from chiropractic alignments.

  • Is chiropractic a good choice for all cancer patients?

No. Be aware that spinal manipulation might be a bad idea for certain cancer patients. For instance, metastatic disease in the spine, armor leg bones are clear red flags. X-rays are necessary to determine the precise location of these types of lesions. It is always best to seek the care of a chiropractor who is willing to communicate and work with your attending oncologist. Similarly, during chemo or radiation therapy, herbal or vitamin supplements may be ill-advised because of the need to maintain immune system suppression.

  • Do chiropractors work with other complementary fields?

Yes.The comprehensive holistic approach used by progressive chiropractors emphasizes rehabilitative exercises for postural correction,strength, flexibility, and neuro-musculoskeletal balance. Nutrition and stress reduction are also focuses to address the chemical and emotional components of subluxation, respectively. With these approaches we are able to improve joint mobility thereby decreasing the acceleration of arthritic conditions, diminish inflammation which is the cause of a multitude of chronic diseases and foster a priority on relaxation.

To this end, and because of the synergy between chiropractic and massage in treating musculoskeletal disease, many chiropractors work in conjunction with certified massage therapists.

Studies have examined massage as a treatment for symptoms of cancer including anxiety, nausea and pain. A review on the subject in 2005 concluded, "Conventional care for patients with cancer can safely incorporate massage therapy... The strongest evidence for benefits of massage is for stress and anxiety reduction, although research for pain control and management of other symptoms common to patients with cancer, including pain, is promising". Corbin L.Safety and efficacy of massage for cancer. CancerControl.2005; 158-164.

  • How do I find a good chiropractor for me?

The best place to start is to ask family, friends, and coworkers for recommendations. Beyond that you may call your local state association. Use your intuition always when selecting a health care provider because your rapport becomes an important support factor contributing to your health. If you are not making progress within a reasonable period of time that is somehow demonstrated as measurable to you, then move on to another provider.

A health care provider offering false hope is obviously suspect, but clinging to realistic hope is vital for any patient. Chiropractic, along with other complementary and alternative medical approaches like massage may fill in gaps which support the healing process.

For additional information see the International Chiropractic Association's website at www.chiropractic.org

Another reliable resource is the American Chiropractic Association website at www.acatoday.org

About the Author: Dr.William U. Roodman is a chiropractor residing in Richmond ,Virginiahas been in practice for 24 years. He is co-clinic director and owner of The Advanced Wellness Centre, a multidisciplinary practice consisting of chiropractors, physical therapists, massage therapists, fitness trainers, nutritionist, acupuncturist and hypnotherapist. Dr. Roodman was voted by his peers as one of Richmond’s Top Docs in the May 2013 publication of Richmond magazine. For further information about Dr. Roodman or his clinic, visit www.advancedwellnessrichmond.com

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