When most people think about chiropractic care, they probably picture a chiropractor placing their hands on someone's back to perform a spinal manipulation. Chiropractors call this method manual therapy. These spinal manipulations help to relieve pressure on the joints and to improve nerve function, which in turn reduces back and neck pain. Chiropractors also use other kinds of therapies that don't involve the use of their hands. These therapies are called modalities or modality therapy. The goal of using modality therapy is the same, which is to improve function and reduce pain in the body.
Here are three kinds of modality therapy that chiropractors use.
1. Electrical Muscle Stimulation
When a chiropractor sends electric currents through the muscles, they are using a modality therapy called electrical muscle stimulation (EMS). The electric currents cause the muscles to contract, which helps to relieve pain and reduce swelling. EMS is often used on the back or the legs.
Some benefits of EMS include:
- It encourages blood flow to the muscles, which helps to quicken the healing process after an injury.
- It keeps the muscles active, which helps to prevent muscle atrophy.
- It releases tension in the muscles, which helps the entire body to relax.
Since EMS also reduces muscle stiffness, athletes use this modality therapy to prevent injuries.
Many people are familiar with ultrasound, which allows medical professionals to see inside a human body. In order to do this, a probe produces sound waves that go into the area of the body that's being examined. When a chiropractor uses ultrasound as a modality therapy, they are still using a probe that produces sound waves.
However, instead of seeing inside the body, the goal of this kind of ultrasound is to increase the flow of blood. When there is increased blood flow, endorphins get released, which helps to reduce pain and inflammation. Chiropractors use ultrasound to treat certain musculoskeletal injuries and conditions, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, osteoarthritis, and strains and sprains.
3. Lifestyle Changes
Chiropractors often recommend certain lifestyle changes in order to promote the body's innate ability to heal itself and to improve the health of the spine. Here are some lifestyle changes that chiropractors include in this particular modality therapy:
- Improving posture
- Getting up and moving around on a regular basis
- Engage in weight-bearing exercises
- Receiving adequate amounts of rest
- Quitting bad habits, such as smoking and drinking alcohol
As part of this modality therapy, chiropractors stress eating a well-balanced diet and taking nutritional supplements.