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Chiropractic Can Help Manage Side Effects of Cancer Treatment

By Dr. Amanda Meyers-Kuper


As each October passes more and more people become aware of the pink ribbon and what it stands for… the strength of the many women that endure breast cancer. Some enter remission, some continue to fight, and some are taken by the disease. Although October is dedicated to breast cancer, year round we are exposed to the challenges of the disease. Almost all of us are affected by cancer, whether it is diagnosis for ourselves or a loved one. Statistics from 2008-2010 now show that 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will have cancer1.

Along with a diagnosis of cancer comes a treatment plan which may include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Depending on the type of cancer, the treatment plan necessary and the patient’s health history, chiropractic care can be utilized as an adjunct therapy. In a holistic approach, Cancer Treatment Centers of America employ doctors of chiropractic on their support teams to help alleviate stress, relieve pain and stiffness in the joints and muscles, and positively affect the nervous system2.

Cancer not only affects the area of the body that is attacked, but the entire mind, body and spirit of an individual. As a chiropractor I cannot cure cancer. HOWEVER, I can make life a little bit easier while going through the treatment process. A laugh and smile is the first step. Next is addressing the side effects from cancer treatment including but not limited to joint and muscle pain, neuralgia (nerve pain), and balance issues. Through multiple modalities, a chiropractor can help alleviate the aches and pains associated with cancer treatment. A chiropractic adjustment reduces irritation on the nerves, joint mobility is restored and muscle spasms are released. Interestingly endorphins are released when the joints are manipulated and can give off an overall relaxed feeling for the body, similar to what runner’s experience when they’ve reached the “runner’s high.” Adjustments can be performed using multiple techniques such as Diversified (or manual) adjusting, Drop Technique, Activator, and Flexion/Distraction. Additional techniques address the soft tissue (muscles, tendons, and ligaments) and can be utilized to reduce muscle spasms and referral pain while preventing future intensity and frequency of muscular symptoms.

One of my patients was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. She is a 76 year old woman of strength and perseverance like no other. I have had the distinct honor of treating her as she fights through chemotherapy and we await for the lumpectomy this month to see her future prognosis. We enjoy our appointments together as I am one of the doctors that helps take pain away. Each appointment with her is a new experience. We review how she’s feeling, what her body is experiencing, and what I can do to help. Communication is of the utmost importance. The type and intensity of the chemotherapy at the time will affect my approach to the technique I utilize to restore musculoskeletal health. Recently our office received a phone call from my patient just to say “Thank you.” We had an appointment together that day and she was already feeling significantly better. Knowing I helped make her day a little bit easier puts a smile on my face and in my heart.

If you know anyone that is experiencing the challenges of cancer treatment, perhaps we can help! The first step is to schedule an initial appointment with me or Dr. Scott as we will evaluate each individual’s specific situation and see if a future treatment plan is appropriate. It is an honor to help those battling a disease that affects so many.