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For Everyone Touched By Cancer

How Does Chiropractic Care Help With Cancer Treatment Side-Effects?

Written by Brent Wells on 
30th September, 2020
Updated: 7th March, 2023
Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Whether it’s you, your loved one, or an acquaintance, dealing with a cancer diagnosis is no easy task.

Determination and the ability to stay strong until you beat the big C is easier said than done. If you’re providing support for a friend or loved one with cancer, being at a loss for what to do is common. Just know that there are a ton of resources out there to help with everything. One of the toughest things for cancer patients to deal with is treatment side-effects. Finding relief can be difficult, but not impossible. And sometimes it comes in the most unlikely of forms. This is why we want to discuss how chiropractic care can help with cancer treatment side-effects.

There are currently a limited number of studies about chiropractic care for cancer patients. However, there’s mounting evidence that chiropractic works to help issues that commonly affect cancer treatment patients:

  • Relieve headaches
  • Improve joint pain and function
  • Overall pain relief
  • Digestion
  • Anxiety reduction
  • Increase overall wellbeing

What is chiropractic care?

Chiropractic care is a specific kind of non-invasive, drug-free medicine that focuses on the musculoskeletal system. Doctors of chiropractic focus on proper alignment of joints, nerves, and bones. Spinal manipulation is perhaps the best-known type of chiropractic treatment, but there is no part of the musculoskeletal system that chiropractors aren’t trained to work on. Since the spine is such a vital part of the body’s function, including all the conduits that travel through it, chiropractors often focus on making sure the spine is healthy. An issue in the spine can affect many other parts of the body, causing pain, headaches, anxiety, and even digestive issues.

How Does Chiropractic Care Help With Cancer Treatment Side-Effects?

Cancer and chiropractic care

It’s important to note that there is no evidence that chiropractic care can treat or cure cancer itself. Instead, it has proven useful as a complementary treatment option to help relieve cancer treatment side-effects, along with providing other benefits for cancer patients.

It’s always best to talk to your treatment doctor about seeking chiropractic care, as well as telling your doctor of chiropractic that you’re being treated, or have been treated, for cancer.

Chiropractic care for cancer patients depends on many factors

The kind of pain a cancer patient experiences depends on many factors, including prior treatment, stage and type of cancer, and any existing issues that may have been causing pain before the cancer was diagnosed.

Addressing pre-existing issues

Unfortunately, other issues that chiropractors commonly treat don’t simply disappear when one undergoes cancer treatment. Sometimes, even addressing those pre-existing issues helps people with pain relief, even if they didn’t have anything to do with the cancer treatment.

When the body’s energy is concerned with fighting back cancer, even a simple back issue can serve to sap your energy and cause pain. This is one of the ways that chiropractic care can help those undergoing cancer treatment. Dealing with unrelated pain, often exacerbated by the effects of cancer treatment, can provide immense relief while promoting better bodily functions. In fact, in addition to pain relief, chiropractic care has been shown to improve:

Stress relief through chiropractic care

Dealing with a cancer diagnosis can be extremely stressful. And stress can do strange things to your mind and body. This is another potential benefit that chiropractic care can provide those with cancer. Even if you aren’t suffering from back, neck, or joint pain, chiropractic can help to relieve stress and reduce anxiety. This, in turn, can help your body confidence and overall outlook.

Spinal adjustments can help relieve stress on its own, and chiropractic massage is a common stress-relieving modality that doctors of chiropractic use. It also has other benefits, too, like increasing blood flow and cleansing toxins from your muscles, helping your mind and body relax. When a body is relaxed and stress-free, it’s better able to handle adversity and progress towards health.

Combating cancer-treatment fatigue with chiropractic care

Cancer treatment often leaves patients feeling sapped of energy. During the duration of the treatment, patients aren’t usually active. This means more sitting, and resting, which is essential for recovery. However, an unfortunate side-effect of this fatigue is muscle and joint stiffness. Over time, it may also lead to neck and back pain, due to prolonged sitting. Stiff and sore joints can become painful over time, the less they’re used, but chiropractic care can help alleviate this pain.

Through massage, manual manipulation, electrical therapy, stretching, and other modalities, a doctor of chiropractic can help keep your joints from becoming stiff and painful. The idea is to keep you as comfortable and relaxed as possible during your therapy, so you can focus your energy on beating cancer.

Safe pain-relief with chiropractic care

Finally, chiropractic care can help patients deal with their aches and pains without the need for dangerous or addictive pain pills. Everyone experiences pain differently, but chiropractic care has seen some promising results in pain management. One study showed that adults with spinal pain who saw a chiropractor were less likely to fill a pain-pill prescription. It’s important to note that these patients weren’t undergoing cancer treatment at the time. Unfortunately, there isn’t an available study on pain medication for cancer patients undergoing chiropractic care.

What to expect from chiropractic care

Communication is key when discussing your options with your physician and your chiropractor. Upon visiting a doctor of chiropractic for the first time, he or she will discuss your medical history and give you an initial exam to determine if chiropractic care will possibly benefit you. If so, the doctor will assemble a comprehensive and detailed treatment plan to discuss with you.

Each patient is different, and your specific needs will dictate what kind of treatment modalities the doctor of chiropractic uses, as well as how often your sessions should be scheduled. Chiropractic care is considered very safe, with side-effects being rare and mild when they do occur.

Further reading

Scientific articles

Self-reported Nonmusculoskeletal Responses to Chiropractic Intervention: A Multination Survey

Effects of chiropractic treatment on blood pressure and anxiety: a randomized, controlled trial.

Impact of Chiropractic Care on Use of Prescription Opioids in Patients with Spinal Pain

Support for people with cancer

I Have Cancer

The Cancer Shop

Cancer Support Groups

Pain Relief Products For Cancer Patients

We strongly advise you to talk with a health care professional about specific medical conditions and treatments. The information on our site is meant to be helpful and educational but is not a substitute for medical advice.

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