I am a 58-year-old male in good health and have regularly gone to chiropractors for adjustments for about the past 20 years. Three years ago, I decided that since I was feeling well, with no particular aches that I would discontinue chiropractic care. I did this and got along reasonably well until about 3 months ago. I began having numbness in my wrists, plus aches and pains in my hip and shoulder area.
I made an appointment to see the chiropractor here in town that I had been visiting in the past. After one adjustment I felt almost immediate relief. That was approximately one month ago, and since that time I have had 10 adjustments. The aches and the pains are gone for the most part.
My problem, and my question is this. The chiropractor wants me to come in at least twice per week. I told him a couple of days ago that I could not afford to maintain this schedule. He replied that it takes several adjustments for the spine to become strong and for the nervous system to operate normally.
I am wondering whether he wants patients to come back regularly because he has just taken on a new partner and they have extended hours.
It seems unlikely that the numbness in your wrists and the pains in your hip and shoulder were related to a spinal problem. Such symptoms may come and go as age progresses. It is probably coincidental that your symptoms subsided after a chiropractic adjustment. There is no reason to continue getting chiropractic adjustments when you have no symptoms. And there is no reason to believe that getting regular adjustments will prevent such symptoms. You should see a medical doctor if the numbness in your wrists returns.
My general advice is:
- See a chiropractor only when you have a mechanical-type neck or back problem that seems to benefit from chiropractic treatment.
- Discontinue treatment when symptoms disappear.
- Don’t continue treatment for longer than two weeks if there is no obvious improvement.
- Don’t go for treatment as a preventive measure. There is no evidence to indicate that regular spinal adjustments will improve health or prevent disease.
Dr. Homola is a second-generation chiropractor who has dedicated himself to defining the proper limits on chiropractic and to educating consumers and professionals about the field. His 1963 book Bonesetting, Chiropractic, and Cultism supported the appropriate use of spinal manipulation but renounced chiropractic dogma. His 1999 book Inside Chiropractic: A Patient’s Guide provides an incisive look at chiropractic’s history, benefits, and shortcomings. Now retired after 43 years of practice, he lives in Panama City, Florida.
This article was posted on September 21, 2002.