Using Yoga, Tai Chi, and Qigong to Treat Back Pain

Lower back pain is amongst the most common afflictions in adults and effects roughly 80% of Americans. Be it a strain from overuse, injury, or a misalignment of vertebrae, most patients will experience back pain at some point in their life. Patients suffering from back pain often find themselves unable to perform their normal routines which can lead to depression, disturbances in sleep, anxiety, and social isolation.

There are a number of treatment options available to combat the issue, but some patients may be wondering if they could find relief through the practices of yoga, tai chi, or qigong. In this article we will examine the three practices and discuss their efficacy in combating back pain.

Yoga is a group of mental, spiritual, and physical practices that originated in ancient India. While there are several different forms or varieties of yoga available, they all focus on creating harmony between the mind and body in order to improve health and happiness. The practice revolves around low-impact physical activities or postures combined with relaxation, breath control, diet, and meditation.

Originating in ancient China, Tai Chi and Qigong also focus on integration between the body and mind. Through controlled movements, meditation, and breathing techniques, tai chi and qigong aim to cultivate life energy, known as qi (pronounced “chi”), to achieve harmony between mind and body. The practices’ focus on tranquility and clear thought are believed to improve health and wellness.

While all three practices have similarities aimed at improving overall physical and mental wellbeing, questions remain regarding their effectiveness in combating back pain. A review of 32 case studies across the three practices indicate that movement-based interventions may be effective for the treatment of low back pain. Some practitioners reported reductions in pain, lower levels of depression and anxiety, as well as improved functional abilities.

Despite some positive conclusions from the case study reviews, there remains difficulty in drawing firm conclusions from the data currently available. One of the primary limitations is that the study was a narrative review. A narrative review generally collates information on a topic rather than providing any data analysis. Many of the studies lacked clear explanation of how the teams conducted the experiments which makes any reported results suspect. Some studies even showed adverse events that only further contributed to joint and back pain. Additionally, some of the case studies analyzed were relatively brief making any long-term effects difficult to ascertain.

Clearly, more thorough clinical trials and tangible evidence are needed in order for doctors to comfortably prescribe these interventions for lower back pain. Despite the significant doubt that remains regarding their overall efficacy, there is a psychological component to chronic lower back pain that could be improved by engaging in mind and body exercises associated with yoga, tai chi, and qigong. Future testing to address the brain and body connections that these practices stress, will be needed. As it stands now, we cannot say with a high degree of certainty if yoga, tai chi, or qigong are effective in relieving lower back pain.

Using CBD and Chiropractic to Treat Autism

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly one out of every 59 children is diagnosed with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The number of patients with this developmental disability has risen nearly three-fold in just 20 years and impacts boys at a rate of four times more than girls. Given the sharp rise in this disorder and the need to seek treatment as quickly as possible in order to reduce an individual’s difficulties while helping them acquire needed life skills, parents are left seeking new methods of treatment to combat their child’s condition.

Some of the most common treatments for ASD involve using prescription medications to mitigate the associated symptoms of anxiety, depression, aggression, self-abuse, irritability, and hyperactivity that many patients are challenged with. In other cases, children with ASD find benefit through therapies designed to teach communication skills, necessary life skills, and to help minimize the challenges they have as a result of the condition.

One of the more recent treatment options that research has shown to potentially help patients with ASD, combines the use of CBD (cannabidiol) and chiropractic procedures. CBD, a compound that is found naturally in the cannabis plant, is a safe, non-addictive substance that research shows may offer relief from anxiety, depression, inflammation, and chronic pain. While found in the cannabis plant, CBD does not have the psychoactive properties that produce the “high” that another compound in the plant, THC, provides. Coupled with chiropractic treatments designed to correct any existing subluxations and improve sensory processing in patients with ASD, CBD may offer benefits that traditional medicine cannot.

While research on the combination therapy is ongoing, early studies have shown that the treatments may offer improvement of autistic symptoms. One study from April 2018 showed that of the 60 children diagnosed with ASD that were treated with oral CBD, 61% said their behavioral outbreaks were “much improved” or “very much improved”. An additional benefit was that patients also reported lower stress or anxiety levels, improved sleep quality, and communication issues were reduced.

As mentioned previously, chiropractic care is often used in patients with ASD to improve sensory processing associated with any subluxations. Subluxations of the vertebrae, also known as misalignments or partial dislocations, are commonly corrected through chiropractic adjustments. By correcting these misalignments, ASD patients can achieve greater sensory processing which can help reduce some of the symptoms associated with the disorder. One study noted that patients receiving twice-weekly adjustments to their first or second cervical vertebrae reported behavioral improvements, a reduction in self-abuse, and improved language skills. Another study indicated that chiropractic treatments helped a 16-year-old male ASD patient eliminate frequent bowel accidents and think more clearly.

There is still much to learn regarding the effects of combining CBD and chiropractic for patients with ASD but the early data is promising. For patients that are seeking an alternative or supplement to traditional medication or therapies, the use of CBD and chiropractic treatments may offer them relief from the symptoms associated with the disorder. As with any treatment plan, patients should consult with their doctors to determine if the therapy is right for their situation.

Reaves Chiropractic