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Chiropractic treatment may help sports running injuries.

Chiropractors specialize in the non-drug treatment of musculoskeletal problems, including joint sprains and disk injuries. To some extent, the chiropractic approach to sports injuries overlaps that of traditional medical care. A chiropractor's initial patient examination includes standard orthopedic and neurological rests to diagnose whether a particular pain is due to a strain, sprain, or disk problem.

When needed, chiropractors use x-ray to screen for fractures and other bone disorders, such as osteoporosis. Chiropractic treatment of sports injuries often includes widely used physical therapies such as ice for swelling and inflammation, and hear, ultrasound, or electronic muscle stimulation for muscle strains and spasms.

Importance of Restoring Structural Body Balance

Two contributions chiropracrics has made to sports medicine include hands-on adjustment of spinal and other joints (in order to maintain a full range of motion) and a strong emphasis on the overall structural balance of the body. For example, when a muscle or joint is injured, the body naturally compensates, attempting to maintain balance and protect itself by tightening other muscles and joints. Chiropractic adjustments help to restore the natural balance that was present before the injury.

For example, persistent shoulder pain could be the result of a direct injury to the shoulder. It could also reflect the body's compensation for spinal-joint movement restrictions in the neck. Similarly, pain in the hip could come from the hip itself, or it could be the result of lower back, ankle, or knee problems.

The key point is that the various parts of the body are interconnected. Should a doctor examine and treat only the symptom, rather than the cause, the real problem may be missed. Indeed, I have seen many cases of knee pain that were cleared when lower back adjustments were administered.

Increased Acceptance of Chiropractics

Within the past decade, a number of studies published in the British Medical Journal have demonstrated the effectiveness of manual manipulation (the majority of which is done by chiropractors) for back, neck, and shoulder pain. Interestingly, the treatment for shoulder pain involved not only manipulation of the shoulder itself, but also of nearby areas in the neck and upper back.

Research such as this has contributed to a climate where the work of chiropractors now enjoys far greater acceptance than in the past. In fact, chiropractics is now part of the sports-medicine program of the United States Olympic Committee.

Of course, one doesn't have to be an Olympian to benefit from chiropractic care. Each year, 20 million Americans go to a chiropractor, 90 percent of them seeking treatment for musculoskeletal problems like back pain, neck pain, other joint and muscle pains, and headaches.

A Final Thought

In short, while mild, temporary soreness after exertion is nothing to worry about, persistent aches and pains are a sign that you are overstressing your muscles and joints. Never push your body to the limit while in pain, because this increases your risk of further injury. If your athletic activities are causing more than temporary pain, a chiropractor may be able to help.

For additional information, contact the Pentagon Fit To Win Office at (703) 692-8898.

Lieutenant Colonel Steven Vieira, USAF, is a health educator, chief of education and training for DiLorenzo TRICARE Health Clinic, and chief of the Life Skills Center. He holds a Ph.D. in social and behavioral health psychology and an MS. in health care program management He is a registered nurse, certified in health promotion. He has served for 21 years on active duty with the Air Force and has had assignments ranging from element chief and flight commander to Air Staff Fellow in the past year at the Pentagon, he was responsible for the Tri-Service planning and strategic implementation of the mental health activities following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
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Author:Lieutenant Colonel Vieira, Steven
Publication:Armed Forces Comptroller
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2003
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