Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health issues, affecting over 40 million adults in the U.S. alone. While medication and therapy are the go-to treatments for anxiety, many people are seeking alternative and complementary approaches. One such option is chiropractic care. Can a chiropractor really help with anxiety? There is some evidence to suggest that chiropractic care may be helpful for anxiety. One study found that people who received chiropractic care for anxiety reported a significant improvement in their symptoms compared to those who received a placebo treatment.
- The connection between the spine and nervous system. Chiropractors focus on aligning the spine and treating misalignments called subluxations. The spine houses and protects the spinal cord, which contains nerves that connect to the brain and body. Any misalignments or issues in the spine can potentially impact the nervous system and how the body functions. Since anxiety is a disorder of the nervous system, chiropractic care aims to relieve pressure on nerves to improve overall function.
- Relieving nerve impingement. Chiropractors believe that subluxations can pinch or irritate nerves, causing a wide range of symptoms including anxiety. By adjusting the spine, they aim to relieve nerve impingement and restore proper nerve flow and communication between the brain and body. This may help reduce symptoms like worry, restlessness, and panic associated with anxiety.
- Improving posture. Poor posture can contribute to anxiety by placing strain on the muscles, ligaments, and nerves in the spine. Chiropractic adjustments and manual therapies may help correct posture issues, relieve muscle tension, and improve range of motion. This in turn can lower stress levels and promote relaxation.
- Enhancing parasympathetic activity. The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for the “rest and digest” functions in the body like lowering heart rate and blood pressure. Studies show that anxiety is linked with decreased parasympathetic activity. By correcting subluxations, chiropractic care may boost parasympathetic tone which can calm the nervous system and reduce anxiety symptoms.
- Providing whole-body wellness. Chiropractors take a holistic approach to health, focusing not just on the spine but how all body systems work together. They often recommend lifestyle changes and natural remedies in addition to adjustments that may help lower anxiety over time. These can include stress management techniques, dietary changes, and exercise.
- The limitations. While some people report relief of anxiety after chiropractic care, the research is still limited. Most studies have been small with mixed results. Chiropractic also tends to be a short-term treatment, so it may only provide temporary versus long-term anxiety relief. For best results, chiropractic is often combined with traditional anxiety treatments.
In conclusion, while chiropractic care cannot cure anxiety disorders on its own, it may offer complementary benefits for some people by relieving nerve impingement, improving posture, and enhancing relaxation. Many chiropractors take a whole-body approach and can recommend lifestyle strategies to help lower anxiety and boost wellbeing. If you have anxiety, talking to a chiropractor and your medical provider can help determine if chiropractic may be a good complementary treatment option for you.
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