Chiropractic Care and Pregnancy

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Chiropractic Care and Pregnancy

Pregnancy can be a really exciting time for parents as they get ready for their family to grow with the baby’s arrival. As the baby grows, mum’s body changes as she prepares to give birth.

Sometimes these changes can be uncomfortable or painful, with about three-quarters of pregnant mums suffering from pain in their back or pelvis.1, 2 This is one reason that so many pregnant mums seek chiropractic care.

Is it safe?

When deciding whether they should see a chiropractor, pregnant mums often ask ‘is it safe to be adjusted by the chiropractor when I’m pregnant?’ The good news is that chiropractors can tailor the care they provide to each individual patient and the research suggests that chiropractic care during pregnancy is safe for both mum and baby.4,6

What does the research say?

But what does the research tell us about the benefits of seeing a chiropractor while you’re pregnant? When it comes to back pain, not many big studies have been done yet that have looked at whether chiropractic care helps pregnant mums.3

So, although more research is needed, results from the research that has been done so far are promising and seem to show that for some pregnant mums, chiropractic care can be really helpful.4 In one study, researchers in Switzerland followed 115 pregnant women for a year who went to see a chiropractor with low back pain.5 What they found in this study was that over half of the patients said they ‘improved’ after just 1 week of chiropractic care, and after a month that figure had grown to 70%.

In a study conducted in New Zealand, researchers studied pelvic floor muscle function in pregnant women before and after they were adjusted by a chiropractor.

By the end of the study, about 90% of the mums who entered the study said their pain was better. From this study, we can’t be sure if it was the chiropractic care that really helped them but at the end of the study over 85% of the mums said they were happy with the care they received from their chiropractor.

Could chiropractic care help me through delivery?

One area researchers think chiropractic care may help pregnant moms is with the delivery of their baby. For a woman in labor, the ability to relax and contract her pelvic floor muscles is really important for helping the baby to move through the birth canal.7 Ideally, for the birth process to go as well as possible, giving the greatest chance of natural, vaginal birth, you want strong pelvic floor muscles that can relax and contract at just the right time.7, 8

New Zealand Research Study

In a study conducted in New Zealand, researchers studied pelvic floor muscle function in pregnant women before and after they were adjusted by a chiropractor. What they found was that after the pregnant women were adjusted, their pelvic floor muscles appeared to relax more when they were at rest.

This relaxation of their pelvic floor muscles after they were adjusted may mean that chiropractic care could help them to have a natural vaginal delivery. This was only a small trial, and the researchers couldn’t be sure how much of an impact these relaxed muscles would have on labour itself, but it does suggest that for pregnant mums, chiropractic care may give them more control over their pelvic floor muscles, which may make childbirth easier. Other research supports this idea with one study reporting that new mums experience on average a 25% reduction in the length of labour time with chiropractic care during pregnancy and that rises to a 31% reduction for mothers who have given birth before.It makes sense to keep yourself as healthy as possible during your pregnancy.

So, if you want help with the way your spine and nervous system are functioning, consider seeing your chiropractor, because it’s natural, safe, and may help you to feel better and boost your chances of having a faster, easier delivery of your little bundle of joy.

References

  1. Malmqvist, et al. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2012;35(4):272-8.
  2. Weis, et al. Journal Of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada 2018;40(8):1038-43.
  3. Stuber & Smith. Journal Of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2008;31(6):447-54.
  4. Borggren. Pregnancy and Chiropractic: a Narrative Review Of the Literature. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine 2007;6(2):70-74.
  5. Peterson, Muhlemann, Humphreys. Chiropractic & Manual Therapies 2014;22(1):15.
  6. Stuber, Wynd, Weis. Chiropr Man Therap 2012;20:8.
  7. Yan, et al. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews Systems Biology and Medicine 2016;8(6):506-16.
  8. Du, et al. International Urogynecology Journal 2015;26(10):1415-27.

Acknowledgments

  • Dr. Heidi Haavik – BSc(Physiol) BSc(Chiro) PhD
  • Dr. Kelly Holt – BSc, BSc(Chiro), PGDipHSc, PhD
  • Dr. Jenna Duehr – BChiro, BHSC (Nursing), MHSc

How Often Should You Visit Your Chiropractor?

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When you first see your chiropractor, you may be among the many people who ask, ‘how often do I need to come?’ Often the answer people want to hear is ‘once’ but chiropractic care, like most things that are really good for us, rarely makes a long term difference to your health and wellness after just one visit.

One reason a single visit to your chiropractor may not make a long-term change is that it usually takes years for the problem to develop that motivates someone to first see a chiropractor and it can take many visits to the chiropractor to correct that problem.

Seeing your chiropractor can be a little like going to the gym. It takes time, frequency and follow up.

One way of looking at it is that it can be like the thousandth straw that breaks the camel’s back. A problem can build up day after day as you sit hunched over your desk, or bend and twist as you lift, or tense up as you deal with your daily stress and then one day, you bend to tie your shoelaces and all of a sudden something hurts! You can rest assured that tying your shoelaces isn’t what caused the problem, it’s simply the thousandth straw that broke the camel’s back (or was too much for your back) and that’s why you’re in pain.

There will usually be changes to the way the supporting muscles in your spine work that build up over time until your muscles can’t cope anymore, and symptoms appear.1-2 So, seeing your chiropractor can be a little like going to the gym. It takes time, frequency, and follow up. Working with you to correct the problem and help your brain and the muscles in your spine communicate or ‘talk’ with each other again so you can regain the stability you need to function properly and resolve your aches and pains.3

But how long will this take and how often do you need to be checked by your chiropractor? Everybody is different, so your chiropractor will be guided by their clinical experience, and what your goals are when they recommend a care plan for you. 

US Research Study

A new research study was recently published that suggests, in the early stages of chiropractic care, the more often you get adjusted, the better the results you enjoy, and this can also be better for you in the long term as well.4

In this study, that was conducted by scientists in America, they looked at 256 people who had chronic, regular headaches and divided them into groups who either received chiropractic care once a week, or twice a week, or three times a week, for up to six weeks, or they received no chiropractic care at all and instead were given light massages over the same 6-week period. Previous studies have shown that people with this kind of headache often respond well to chiropractic care.

The scientists in this study were most interested in how many visits per week to the chiropractor showed the best results. They looked at how many days a week a patient suffered from headaches at the end of the study and whether any changes in headache frequency between the groups were still there up to one year later. What they found was that the patients who were seen by their chiropractor most regularly, so up to three times a week, had fewer headaches than those who were seen once or twice a week, and they were much better than the patients who received no chiropractic care at all.

In fact, after one year, the patients that had been seen three times a week had over three fewer headaches per month compared to the patients who only received a light massage. So, these effects obviously lasted.

The more you get adjusted, the better the results that you will enjoy.

This study was done in people with chronic headaches, so we can’t be sure if the same differences occur in people with other problems who see a chiropractor. A similar study in patients with chronic low back pain did find that people who were adjusted more often had the best results, but the results weren’t as clear as the study done on patients with headaches.

The studies suggest that seeing a chiropractor more often when you begin care has real, beneficial, long-term effects to the way your spine and nervous system works, but how much you benefit may depend on what’s wrong with your spine when you begin care.

So, when you go and see your chiropractor, know that their recommendations for your plan of care are based on what their clinical experience tells them is best for you, and that the research suggests more frequent adjustments has the biggest positive impact on your health and wellness.

References
  1. Hodges & Moseley. J Electromyogr Kinesiol 2003;13(4):361-70.
  2. MacDonald et al. Pain 2009;142(3):183-8.
  3. Ferreira et al. Manual Therapy 2007;12(3):240-48.
  4. Haas et al. Spine J 2018. 18(10): 1741-1754.
  5. Haas et al. Spine J 2014;14(7):1106-16.
Acknowledgments
  • Dr. Heidi Haavik – BSc(Physiol) BSc(Chiro) PhD
  • Dr. Kelly Holt – BSc, BSc(Chiro), PGDipHSc, PhD
  • Dr. Jenna Duehr – BChiro, BHSC (Nursing), MHSc

What Is That Popping Sound?

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What is that popping sound?

If you have been adjusted before by a chiropractor, you may have noticed a popping sound that may seem a little strange. What is that popping sound? What happens if I crack my knuckles? Studies have also looked at people who have routinely cracked their knuckles for years and years and compared them to non-knuckle crackers to see if there’s any difference in x-ray images of their hands.1 These studies all came back with the same conclusion. Habitual knuckle cracking over the course of several decades is not associated with clinical or radiographic evidence of osteoarthritis. 1 The popping sound you hear when a chiropractor adjusts you is simply a change in state between liquid and gas within a joint.

Whether or not you hear the popping sound makes absolutely no difference to how good the adjustment was.

What does research show?

There have been all sorts of theories about what the popping sound really is. Some have thought the sound was caused by tendons snapping over a joint, or a bone being put back into place, or the snapping of adhesions or scar tissue.5 Recently there was a really interesting study done that actually looked at what was happening in a joint when there were popping sounds.6 The researchers in this study used video magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to study what happened in a person’s finger joint when they pulled his finger until his knuckle made the popping sound. So, they used a cable attached to his finger and slowly pulled his finger until it cracked while recording this with video MRI. They then measured the space between the joint surfaces, before and after the crack, using automatic computer software. What they found was that the joints remained very close together during the early stages of the finger being pulled, and then when the force of the pull was strong enough, the joint would very separate and a bubble would form, and this was when the popping sound was heard. This means that the popping sound you hear when a chiropractor adjusts you is simply a change in state between liquid and gas within a joint. It’s called tribonucleation. It’s actually very similar to what happens when you open a champagne bottle, but it’s all happening in an enclosed joint space. Early on, it was thought that the popping sound was associated with unhealthy joints, but as far back as the 1930’s scientists were showing that this also occurs in perfectly healthy joints. So, keep in mind next time you get adjusted by your chiropractor, that the popping sound doesn’t have anything to do with bones grinding or rubbing, but instead is simply gas bubbles forming within a joint as your adjustment separates two joint surfaces that are close together.

Disclaimer and References

 This information is provided for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be professional advice of any kind. Haavik Research Ltd encourages you to make your own health care decisions based on your own research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional. chiroshub.com © Haavik Research 2021 1. Powers et al. The Journal of family practice 2016;65(10):725-26. 2. Cleland et al. J Man Manip Ther 2007;15(3):143-54. 3. Cramer et al. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2011;34(9):572-83. 4. Williams & Cuesta-Vargas. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2014;37(4):230-5. 5. Protopapas & Cymet. J Am Osteopath Assoc 2002;102(5):283-7. 6. Kawchuk et al. PLoS One 2015;10(4):e0119470.

• Dr. Heidi Haavik BSc(Physiol) BSc(Chiro) PhD • Dr. Kelly Holt BSc, BSc(Chiro), PGDipHSc, PhD • Dr. Jenna Duehr BChiro, BHSc(Nursing), MHSc What does the research show? Whether or not you hear the popping sound makes absolutely no difference to how good the adjustment was. Disclaimer and References This information is provided for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be professional advice of any kind. Haavik Research Ltd encourages you to make your own health care decisions based on your own research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional. chiroshub.com