Can Massage Chairs Replace Chiropractors?

Dr. Weidner,

1.) Is the roller massage feature pretty equivalent to the roller table some chiropractors use?

2.) I’ve read your literature so I’m very aware you support the benefits of massage chairs. Given you have a background in chiropractic, that definitely helps your credibility. You can look up how much does a chiropractor charge? Before going in to see someone. I hope this doesn’t come off the wrong way or anything, but do you honestly, confidently believe that massage chairs will help realign the spine? I’m not looking just to ease the pain, etc…I’m looking to actually fix a problem. I’m sure there are others worse off than me, but it’s enough so that I’ve tried every natural way I can think of to fix my back: inversion table, sleep number bed, massages, chiropractor, stretching and streneous excercise almost every day, a focus on correct posture at work, etc. Unfortunately, none of these have made much of a difference. I really do not want to opt for steroid injection or spinal surgery. I’m only 24 and am too active to already have this problem (hence why I’m almost positive it’s a direct result of a football injury 6-7 years ago). My chiropractor was never able to get me back in realignment (went for 1 year), and I’m fairly certain that was because my back muscles were too tight and had been holding my spinal alignment in such a way for so long that it was too difficult to loosen my muscles up while simultaneously getting everything back in line. Hence, if used every day to not only loosen my back muscles but also get everything realigned, I would think that over time massage chairs really could fix my problem.

Based off what I’ve read in addition to simple logic, it seems the Inada Sogno is kind of a no brainer to those with back problems (assuming one has the funds to afford it and seriously wants to do something about it). I understand you obviously can not say for certain without having met me/examined my back if this would actually fix my problem rather than simply ease the pain. I guess what it comes down to is that I would just like to know if you’ve noticed an actual difference in spinal alignment/posture/correct curvature, etc for those who have used this product. In other words, an actual, natural, medical solution.

I hope my questions do not come off as naive, ignorant, or offensive in any way. I’m already pretty excited about the possibilities of finally fixing my back problem in a natural way (really really really want to avoid surgery or injections)…I just don’t want to get my hopes up too much, especially considering I haven’t tried it out yet. I’m sure it will be an awesome experience, it just really helps having the opinion of a medical professional going into a large purchase such as this.

Thanks.

My Response

Great questions!!

The rollers are more sophisticated than those of the roller tables. I had two roller tables in my clinic and those rollers strictly went up and down the table without regard for spinal shape or form. The chairs scan your spine and cater the massage to your spinal shape. Much better, IMHO.

I honestly don’t think, nor do I have research to substantiate the idea, that massage chairs correct the spine. I assume correcting the spine means making literal changes in the curvatures of the spine. Most chiropractors, believe it or not, do not correct spines. There are some techniques in the profession that specifically are designed to change spinal alignment. Most chiros pretty much just manipulate the spinal bones, releasing locked up joints, which results in muscle relaxation and pain relief but have  no affect on the actual alignment.

I feel that some chairs, like the Inada Doctor’s Choice 3A massage chair (http://www.inada-3a-massage-chair.com) and now the IT-8500 by Infinite Therapeutics, use shoulder airbags to compress the front of the shoulders, pinning them back while the rollers go over the spine, thus enhancing better posture. But to say that the chairs actually realign the spine, I’m not so sure. I know that they relieve pain and do various and sundry other things, but realignment is not definitive.

I remember the first time I sat on a massage chair I actually felt like I was standing taller and straighter afterwards. Whether that feeling translates to spinal realignment or correction, I think it would be a stretch to say so.

Every person responds differently to a massage chair. You may notice a change in your pain presentation…but, on the other hand, it may not do much for your pain. A bit of a crap shoot I guess, as with all therapies. I know I lost a few patients once they purchased a massage chair because the chair was getting rid of the pain for which they were coming to see me!

Hope this helps in some way.

Dr. Alan Weidner
www.massage-chair-relief.com

 

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