Obesity and Chiropractic
Is obesity a concern with chiropractors? Can chiropractors help a patient manage obesity?
Usually, patients seek chiropractic methods for relief of pain arising from the nervous and musculoskeletal systems. But in the tradition of chiropractic, the WHOLE PERSON is cared for, not just a select region of pain.
General Health History
For example, when a low back pain patient first comes to the office, their history form includes detailed information about their overall health, not just their chief complaint.
A thorough case history form will ask about past accident history, past hospitalizations, current medication list, family and social histories, occupational history, habit history, and a review of all the body’s systems (cardiovascular, respiratory, endocrine, EENT, genitourinary, skin, digestive, blood/lymphatic, and more).
Doctors of chiropractic treat the WHOLE person, so when obesity is present in patients, they see treating it as part of the healing process.
Granted, the main focus is usually given to the primary or chief complaint, chiropractors will look at all the reasons as to why the low back hurts. This is true, especially since in most cases, there is more than one cause for low back pain (LBP), or it is multimodal; even as the last activity prior to the back going out typically gets the blame.
Also, most of us who have had LBP have had it more than once. In fact, most studies report that if you’ve had LBP in the past, you can EXPECT to have it again. That is why the doctor examines and identifies ALL the possible reasons as to why the back was injured—and that includes the possible existence of obesity—and manages all aspects of the causes as they can.
Doctors of chiropractic will look at all possible causes for low back pain and address things like a short leg, flat/pronated feet, knee, hip, and pelvic issues as all of these can affect the frequency, intensity, and duration of LBP. These possible issues can also impede one’s efforts to exercise, and in fact, may worsen every time they try.
Family History of Obesity
In cases where the patient is clearly obese, the chiropractor will ask about family’s history of obesity as it is very relevant in these cases.
Your doctor of chiropractic may ask what you and your family typically eat. Is it fast food or does it consist of whole foods in a well-balanced diet? How about snacking habits? These can “undo” a lot of good if there are abuses in that department.
Also, thyroid deficiency can make weight loss next to impossible since it regulates our metabolic rate. When sluggish, we simply can’t break down fat efficiently, and we usually retain fluid, which is another cause for weight gain.
Your chiropractor will first reduce the “cause” of the LBP by decreasing inflammation (“RICE”: rest, ice, compress, elevate). S/He will manipulate within the patients’ tolerance to restore spinal and extremity joint function so exercises will not hurt. S/he can then guide patients in the process of integrating exercises into their lifestyle gradually so they can identify any exercise that may be too much for them at that particular time.
Of course, chiropractors will also provide nutritional consulting with diets that may include calorie counting / restriction diets, the “Paleo” or caveman diet, low carbohydrate diet, and many other dietary options.
Chiropractors will often integrate exercises into the treatment plan as regaining flexibility, strength, stamina, and coordination all help not only the LBP, but also allows for aerobic activity to be better tolerated and enjoyed. If you experience pain every time you get up to walk, you will react by modifying or stopping that activity.
Chiropractors will discuss with the patients what they have tried in the past that seemed to work, as well as those approaches that failed. This is important so they don’t waste time.
Chiropractors want to help patients find ways that can be continued for the long-term that they like, that make sense, and that work. Then , the patient can be in control of their weight, their low back pain, and their lives.