Benefits and Risks of Spinal Manipulation Therapy(SMT) vs. Chiropractic treatment 

Back Pain Doctor

If you’ve ever been a patient of severe back or neck pain and refused to rely solely on numerous pain killers to make it go away, you probably know what a chiropractor is; if not, you’ll recall it as the profession of Charlie Harper’s vexatious younger brother, Alan Harper, in popular, American sitcom, Two and a Half Men. 

Spinal pain and its effects has taken a massive toll on society and the limited effectiveness of conventional medical treatment has left patients no choice but to turn to Complementary and Alternative Medical(CAM) therapies. These therapies include a plethora of treatments such as massage therapies, acupuncture, physical therapies ( such as the Feldenkrais method and Pilates) but the most popular of them all is Spinal Manipulation Therapy(SMT). 

What is it? 

Spinal Manipulation Therapy(SMT) employs various techniques which mostly combine moving and applying force to joints to essentially “crack” them like we do our knuckles. This is said to release pressure and reduce inflammation of joints and is used to treat back, neck and shoulder pain. 

What are the Benefits? 

Chiropractic treatment helps release pressure from joints and has been proven to be effective against muscle spasms, muscle atrophy, chronic back and neck pain and a variety of other musculoskeletal problems. 

What Other Therapies are there? 

There are multiple Chiropractic treatments that your chiropractor may prescribe such as: Spinal Traction(helps to decompress your discs and reduce nerve root pressure), Muscle Stimulation(helps reduce inflammation, muscle spasm and muscle atrophy by transmitting light electric pulses through electrodes attached to your skin), Therapeutic Stretching(helps prevent the formation of scar tissue), Soft Tissue Manual Therapy(a hands -on technique which involves the mobilization of tendons and ligaments), even maintaining good posture and a healthy, prescribed diet is a part of Chiropractic therapy 

How Effective is it?

Statistically, SMTs provide seemingly better results in improving chronic back pain in the short term but relatively similar results as other recommended therapies in the long run and therefore, are usually prescribed together as a whole package of treatments to patients. The medical data on the effectiveness of SMTs and other CAM therapies are widely disputed and not 100% conclusive. However, they have proven to provide certain levels of comfort, pain relief and muscle relaxation. 

Are there any Health Risks? 

The health risks associated with SMTs and other CAM therapies are mostly benign and usually limited to light discomfort in the joints of the patient. However, it is important to disclose any pre-existing pathologies or conditions you may have such as broken bones, torn ligaments or infections to your physician. It is not recommended to patients who have recently undergone surgery. Severe adverse effects are extremely rare. 


To conclude, Spinal Manipulation Therapies and Chiropractic Therapies hold equal importance in the treatment of patients with musculoskeletal disorders and if you are someone who is suffering from such a problem, it’s best to know what you’re getting yourself into and ask the right questions to your trusted back pain doctor in Mesa, AZ. Hopefully, this article has been able to shed some necessary light on this issue.



Thanks to LifeCare Chiropractic for their insight into chiropractic care and spinal manipulation therapy.