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MS and Chiropractic Care

By Matt Cavallo

Recently, while watching my son’s basketball game, an out of bounds pass was heading towards my wife. I jumped up to deflect the ball. Instantly, I knew that I had thrown out my back. I couldn’t sit down for the rest of the game so I stood on the sidelines near the exit of the gym. The pain was unbearable. It was like nothing I have ever experienced and this is coming from a guy who had a broken neck which required a cervical fusion.

I couldn’t sleep through the night. The pain was excruciating and instead of getting better, it got worse. I was to the point where I felt that I needed to go to the emergency room. However, I had a deadline at work the next day, so there was no time to spend toiling in an ER. I couldn’t lay down for long periods of time, so I moved from the bedroom to the couch where I would lay on an ice pad and wait for daybreak. In my hours of restless sleep, I thought maybe a chiropractor might be able to help me. When my wife woke up, I asked for the number of a chiropractor in our area. She found one that opened early, so we called and got the first appointment. I went to the appointment and explained to the chiropractor what happened. Before we got started with treatment, he wanted to take an X-ray of my spine. 

For those who may not know, a chiropractor is a licensed medical practitioner. They are not medical doctors, but do get a doctor of chiropractic care. They are not allowed to prescribe medication in the United States, with the lone exception being the advanced practice chiropractor in New Mexico. Even if they could prescribe medication, most chiropractors probably wouldn’t because they are focused on a more holistic approach. However, your chiropractor may recommend certain dietary supplements. Chiropractors can accept health insurance and you may only owe a copay for your chiropractic care depending on your health insurance benefits. Not all health insurances cover chiropractic care, however. 

Chiropractors have in-depth knowledge of illness and injury, so it would be okay to talk to your chiropractor about your multiple sclerosis. However, chiropractic care is not a treatment for MS. People living with MS may benefit from chiropractic care as it can provide relief to physical symptoms, but they cannot treat your MS using any of the approved MS therapies because they can’t prescribe medication. There are currently no clinical trials going on to test the efficacy of MS and chiropractic care. 

When I had my last major relapse back in 2016, my chiropractor told me he was going to “help me put the tiger back in its cage.” He was referring to my relapse. He used acupuncture, did some stretching techniques, and made some physical adjustments to areas in my lower back and hips. While it did provide relief, there was no improvement, so I put my chiropractic care on pause.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. I had a problem that was not related to MS. I had thrown out my lower back. The X-ray revealed that my lower back was twisted and that my hips were not aligned. Before we started any treatment, I told him about my MS history and my broken neck. He used electric stimulation on my lower back and then made adjustments to my lower back and hips. Fifteen minutes later, I walked out of the appointment and was able to sit without excruciating pain. Five visits later, I was completely pain-free without lingering side effects. As a matter of fact, my lower back feels better than it has in a long time. I no longer need his services, but know where to go if it flares up again. 

So, when you look at the two health situations, I found some relief using chiropractic care during an MS relapse, but no overall improvement. Whereas, after a couple of chiropractic adjustments, the worst pain of my life is now gone. While chiropractic care may not improve my MS, there is certainly a benefit for helping manage my symptoms or when other health problems occur, including back pain.