Chiropractic care can be helpful for a variety of chronic, or long-lasting, medical conditions. These include spinal issues, sciatica, chronic pain, headaches, and many others. But what about non-orthopaedic chronic medical conditions – diseases that do not primarily affect the bones, joints, and connective tissue? These problems include diabetes, heart disease, mental illness, lung disease, etc. Is it safe to have chiropractic treatments if you suffer from any of these conditions?


Keeping Everyone on the Same Page

Whether you have chronic medical conditions or are completely healthy, it is important to keep your entire healthcare team apprised of your situation. This means letting your primary care physician, chiropractor, dentist, surgeon, and other specialists know your complete medical history as well as any changes. All of your medical providers should be informed of your medication types as well as dosages and frequencies, hospital admissions, surgical procedures, allergies, and other medical information.

Only by having complete information will your chiropractor and other healthcare providers be able to make informed decisions for your effective treatment and safety. For instance, your chiropractor may elect to delay spinal manipulation if you’re still healing from a surgery. You should always defer to their experience and expertise if they feel that a treatment may carry a safety risk.

However, you should know that chiropractic treatments are generally safe, even for patients with chronic illnesses. Still, let your primary care physician and any specialists know before you seek chiropractic therapy.


A Look at Two Conditions

Let’s examine two widespread chronic conditions – type 2 diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Type 2 diabetes usually appears in adults and is a systemic disease, meaning it affects your entire body. The primary symptom is high blood sugar, but this can cause other issues like increased thirst and urination, greater susceptibility to heart disease, and diabetic neuropathy – shooting pain and numbness in the hands and feet.

There is currently no evidence that standard chiropractic treatments can worsen type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, while it is not likely that chiropractic can improve the main staple of diabetes – high blood sugar – treatments may be able to help with the symptoms of neuropathy. As always, inform your endocrinologist and primary care physician that you wish to receive chiropractic treatments, and also let your chiropractor know that you’re diabetic, as well as updating them on your blood sugar control and symptoms.

COPD is a common disease among smokers and former smokers, though it may affect non-smokers as well. It manifests mainly as emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Patients with COPD may have reduced lung volumes and sometimes require supplemental oxygen.

As with type 2 diabetes, a search of the published literature reveals no instances of adverse COPD patient effects with chiropractic therapy. In fact, several randomised, controlled studies found that COPD patients sometimes benefited from manual spinal manipulation delivered by a qualified chiropractor in the form of increased lung capacities, better lung function, and greater exercise capacities.

Despite these results, again, you should consult with your pulmonologist or family doctor before undergoing chiropractic treatment if you have COPD. Be sure to also let your chiropractor know about your COPD and overall health.