According to the American Cancer Society, there will be an estimated 231,840 new cases of invasive breast cancer for 2015. Another estimated 62,290 cases of early non-invasive breast cancer will also be found. Approximately 40,290 women will die from breast cancer. Furthermore, breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer (after skin cancer) for women in the United States. It is also the second leading cause of cancer death after lung cancer.
Breast cancer also has some very severe side effects, including crippling pain, and nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy treatment. Even sitting in chairs for long periods of time while receiving chemotherapy treatments can exacerbate pain levels. While chiropractic care cannot stop breast cancer, it can be very useful as a way to manage some of the devastating side effects.
Chiropractic Care for Pain Side Effects
Breast cancer patients may suffer from numerous types of pain, including joint pain, headaches, back and neck pain, sciatica, or neuropathy (numbness or painful tingling in the hands and feet) as a result of chemo treatments. Pain can also interfere with sleep, as well as increase with stress or poor eating habits.
Chiropractic care mainly focuses on keeping the vertebrae of the spine in proper alignment. If the vertebrae shift out of alignment, known as vertebral sublaxations, they may put pressure on nerves leading to or from the spinal column. Breast cancer patients will experience this nerve pressure as pain. When Dr. Nathen Horst performs an adjustment to the spine, it will put the vertebrae back into proper alignment, thus relieving the pressure on the nerves.
Chiropractic Care for Chemotherapy Side Effects
Vomiting and nausea are perhaps the two most common side effects from any chemotherapy treatment, regardless of the type of cancer. Furthermore, some cancer patients will undergo chemotherapy as frequently as once a week, for several hours at a time while sitting in chairs that may be uncomfortable and exacerbate back or neck pain even further. Patients may also experience difficulty in regulating their body temperature while undergoing chemotherapy, which can also worsen symptoms.
Just as fixing vertebral sublaxations can help relieve pain, so too can chemotherapy side effects be relieved. Breast cancer patients who get relief from chemotherapy side effects are then more tolerant of treatment, and far more likely to complete their round of chemo treatments.
Specific Chiropractic Treatments
Spinal adjustments to correct vertebral sublaxations are the most common form of chiropractic treatment for breast cancer patients. Treatment may include:
- Low-force spinal adjustments
- Electrical stimulation of the muscles with a TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) unit
- Acupuncture and Chinese herbs
- Soft-tissue therapy
Of course, any chiropractic treatment should take place in consultation with a patient’s oncologist to be certain that the patient is getting the best possible care. In such cases where chiropractors and oncologists work together on a proper treatment plan, the patient can be assured that not only will their cancer be treated, but their quality of life may be improved as well.