Chiropractic care can’t cure cancer. But it’s one great way for cancer patients to get pain relief and feel more comfortable during and after treatment.
The role of chiropractic care in aiding cancer patients is not well-studied. However, there are a few studies that show how chiropractic care can help improve quality of life for cancer patients. Today we’ll go into specific ways chiropractic can help so that you’re better informed about the role of chiropractic care in cancer pain management.
Symptoms of cancer and its treatments
To start, the Cancer Treatment Centers of America has listed the main symptoms and side effects of cancer and cancer treatments, including:
- peripheral neuropathy
- nausea & vomiting
Fortunately, many of these side effects can be minimized by chiropractic care. We’ll go through the details below.
Before consulting a chiropractor
Before you receive chiropractic treatments as a cancer patient, be sure to talk to your doctor first. Depending on your type of cancer, you may not be a good candidate for chiropractic sessions. Generally speaking, chiropractic care isn’t recommend for those with:
- Bone cancer (any type)
- Cancers that affect the spine
- Leukemia and myeloma
- Cancer stages that involve severe bone weakness or broken bones
When in doubt, talk to your physician and chiropractic to find out whether chiropractic is right for you.
How does Chiropractic Care and Alternative Treatments benefit cancer patients?
Now we’ll take a closer look at how chiropractic care can help you as a cancer patient. Remember that these effects will be different for every person, so be sure to get a customized care plan from your chiropractor that takes your specific health history and cancer into consideration.
1. Relieve pain
First and foremost, chiropractic care can relieve pain arising from cancer or cancer treatments. One of the greatest benefits of chiropractic is that it’s drug-free, which means it won’t interfere with cancer treatment or cause extra side effects. Instead, chiropractic care can reduce pain, especially if that’s related to back pain or chronic pain. Cancer patients generally feel pain as a result of nerve damage or tumors, or muscle and joint pain arising from chemotherapy and/or radiation. This type of pain can be reduced by gentle adjustments, therapeutic touch and mind-body approaches done by a chiropractor.
2. Improve fatigue and sleep
Another key symptom of cancer treatment is fatigue and sleep conditions. Chiropractors can assist with fatigue by reducing pain, as mentioned above, and by resolving musculoskeletal stress. This can help cancer patients get to bed more easily and find more comfortable positions to sleep in. In recent studies, breast cancer patients slept better after getting chiropractic sessions, showing that chiropractic care can help improve sleep quality in cancer patients.
3. Reduce numbness and peripheral neuropathy
Some cancer treatments can also give patients a sense of numbness, especially in the extremities like the hands and feet (peripheral neuropathy). A chiropractor can relieve pressure on the nerves to resolve numbness and use adjustments and massages to specifically look at the hands and feet.
4. Resolve headaches
Chiropractors can also help resolve headaches, which is a common complaint of cancer patients. This is typically done with adjustments that relieve pressure and correct uncomfortable alignment in the neck, shoulders, and heads. Depending on where the muscle stiffness is located, a chiropractor will use gentle manual techniques to reduce tension.
5. Boost mobility
Sometimes, cancer patients will also suffer from muscle weakness after chemotherapy. This can cause patients to have reduced mobility and inability to perform their usual muscular tasks with the same range of motion as before. A chiropractor can help restore muscle strength and improve the musculoskeletal system. In fact, boosting mobility is one of chiropractic care’s most known and studied effects.
6. Reduce nausea and vomiting
Chiropractic care can also assist cancer patients in reducing their symptoms of nausea and vomiting. These side effects of cancer treatment can be reduced by looking at nutrition and mealtimes to help prevent nausea, as well as dehydration. Nutritional strategies are given by a chiropractor usually include eating every two hours, sticking to cold food and incorporating foods that reduce nausea.
7. Promote relaxation
Finally, chiropractic care is can also promote relaxation. This has been shown in two different studies. The first looked at how chiropractic care reduces blood pressure, which is a symptom of anxiety; while the second measured electrical activity in the muscles, which showed a 25% reduction in activity. These results demonstrate that patients were more relaxed during a chiropractic session and can help reduce stress overall.
Final Takeaway on Chiropractic Care and Alternative Treatments for Cancer Pain
Consider looking into chiropractic care as a way to reduce pain and manage symptoms of cancer and its treatments. It may help you feel less pain and reduce common side effects. And that’s no small feat. At the end of the day, chiropractic care is a great tool for helping manage pain, as well as resolving common side effects of cancer treatment. More studies are needed to know the exact results and role that chiropractic care may play, but this preliminary research is promising. In addition, studies on the impact of chiropractic care on the general population has shown that it does improve quality of life.
Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. founded Better Health Chiropractic in Alaska in 1998 and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. His practice has treated thousands of patients from different health problems using various services designed to help give you long-lasting relief.
Dr. Wells is also the author of over 700 online health articles that have been featured on sites such as Dr. Axe and Lifehack. He is a proud member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.