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Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care is a health care profession that focuses on disorders of the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system, and the effects these disorders may have on general health.

A type of therapy in which the hands are used to manipulate the spine or other parts of the body. Sometimes, heat and ice, relaxation techniques, exercise, and other treatments are also used. Chiropractic therapy may be used to treat conditions such as back pain, neck pain, headache, and hand or foot problems, and to improve overall health.

Cancer and its treatments often cause stress on the musculoskeletal system. Some cancer patients experience peripheral neuropathy, aches and pains in the neck and/or back, muscle tension, headaches or difficulty walking.

Tumours of the breast, lung, kidney, prostate and thyroid metastasize to the skeletal system in approximately 70% of cancer patients

Chiropractic care may help to reduce stress and increase mobility, flexibility, strength and function. A chiropractic adjustment may help alleviate a variety of symptoms, including:

This study examined the cases of two patients with cancer. A 57-year-old man diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer experienced significant pain relief and was able to reduce the amount of medication needed following chiropractic care. He also reported an increase in his quality of life.

A 54-year-old man diagnosed with lung cancer began seeing a chiropractor after experiencing little pain relief one year after he underwent surgery. The man experienced pain relief immediately after beginning chiropractic care and discontinued use of all pain medications after two visits to his chiropractor.

This study chronicles the case of a 65-year-old female with a known history of breast cancer who benefited greatly by attending a chiropractic clinic.

The authors noted: Cancer patients, like the one described in this case report, often respond well to chiropractic care, achieving outcomes that are unattainable by medication or other therapies, or that reduce the patient’s requirement for analgesic or narcotic medication. For cancer patients who are often on multiple pharmaceutical regimens for years, reduction of the need for any medication is in itself a desirable outcome. As illustrated by this case, patients can also benefit from chiropractic treatment, with its typical requirement for attending in person for the physical administration of treatment more frequently than attending the family physician or medical specialists, by being assessed more frequently and having any new developments in status recognized and managed appropriately, including communicating with other involved members of the health care team.


Manual therapies including spinal manipulation are generally safe. Side effects tend to be benign: minor and self-limiting with short duration (eg, mild postmanipulation soreness).

Severe complications have been associated with spinal manipulation but are extremely rare. For example, cauda equina syndrome can be as rare as 1 in 100 million following lumbar manipulations. Cassidy et al reviewed approximately 100 million person-years of records to evaluate stroke risk associated with cervical spinal manipulation and medical care. The authors concluded that the risk was extremely small and there was no excess risk from chiropractic care compared with medical care for neck pain and headaches. They hypothesized that the equivalent risk for chiropractic and medical care suggests that a stroke prodrome can lead to care seeking for these conditions. It is unlikely that manipulation of the neck is causally related to stroke.

Source: Evidence-Based Practice and Chiropractic Care

Cancer Treatment Centers of America
Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association
National Cancer Institute

Cancer Treatment Options

Updated 2024

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