The practice of chiropractic medicine has been around for over one hundred years, and is well established in the United States and Canada. The basic tenet of the practice is that misalignments of the human skeletal frame, especially the spine, are the source of all medical problems. However, modern day chiropractors are divided into the “straights,” which adhere strictly to this belief, versus the “mixers,” who believe there are some other causes of medical problems, such as poor diet, lack of exercise or other factors. Members of the mixer school of thought make up the majority of chiropractors today in the US. They practice both spinal and other bone manipulations as well as advocating life-style changes for many of their patients.
online photo storage
Few people will dispute that problems with sleep are widespread among Americans today. Millions of dollars of sleep aids are sold every year, though studies have shown these add literally only minutes to the amount of sleep people get when taking them. Also, people have problems not just with falling asleep, but also with sleeping long enough and soundly enough. An example of the latter problem is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), in which closing down of the airway in the throat occurs. This causes people with the condition to snore and gasp for breath in their sleep, though they typically are not consciously aware of doing so.
The standard treatment for OSA is use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device, consisting of a small air pump delivering air under low but steady pressure to the patient through a mask they are to wear. Unfortunately, some people cannot tolerate the presence of the face mask, so the search for alternative OSA treatments continues. The standard treatment for insomnia is often sleep medication, though MDs will also counsel patients regarding good “sleep hygiene,” such as avoiding stimulating activities and entertainments too close to bed time.
Enter chiropractic medicine. Chiropractors for years have published case reports of patients who they treated successfully for sleep difficulties. The treatments have sometimes been spinal manipulations, sometimes changes in diet and activity levels, and often all of these. In most of these cases, the criteria for improvement was somewhat subjective, being the patients’ own self-reports – though one can well argue that patients are the best judges of their own conditions. The gold standard for testing medical procedures is the prospective (versus retrospective) controlled trial, preferably with at least many hundreds if not thousands of patients. A controlled trial means that a treated group is compared to a control group that receives no treatment or perhaps a different treatment. Alas, few such studies have been done for chiropractic treatment of sleep disorders, or they have given ambiguous results.
This is likely due to several factors, one of which is massive advertising for drug-based insomnia treatments. We would all like to think there is a ‘magic pill’ for our ills! Surveys have shown that most people think of chiropractors for back pain and a few other conditions in which body inflexibility or discomfort are the main symptoms. Indeed, some of the case reports of improved sleep after chiropractic care came about when patients seeking relief from back pain were asked by their chiropractors about other aspects of their health, revealing sleep problems. Those having problems with sleep should consider whether a chiropractor might be able to help them – especially if they are reluctant to take sedative drugs or have tried other methods unsuccessfully. One has only their daytime sleepiness to potentially lose!
SleepDisorders.com is an informational portal helping sleep disorder sufferers to find local sleep labs to conduct a diagnostic sleep study.