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Chiropractic Care or Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Discover the nuanced differences between chiropractic care and TCM for pain management and holistic wellness. Explore how these complementary approaches offer unique benefits, empowering individuals to make informed decisions for their health.

Adjustment for pain relief

Deciding between chiropractic care and TCM for pains & aches

When addressing pain management, the path you choose can significantly impact your well-being.

Chiropractic care & TCM are natural, non-invasive alternatives that focus on addressing the underlying issues contributing to pain. Let’s explore how these approaches can work synergistically to enhance your overall well-being.

Chiropractic Care or Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)?
Adjustment for pain relief

What is chiropractic care?​​

Chiropractic care emphasises the correction of musculoskeletal issues, especially spinal misalignments, which often underlie pain and discomfort. Through hands-on adjustments and personalised therapies, chiropractors provide lasting pain relief and enhance overall mobility.

Learn more about chiropractic care here.

Chiropractic Care or Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)?

What is Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)?​

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is rooted in ancient Chinese philosophy and practices, which focuses on restoring the balance of vital energy, known as Qi, within the body to promote health and wellness. TCM employs techniques like acupuncture, herbal remedies, massage (Tui Na), cupping, and bone setting, aiming to address not only physical symptoms but also emotional and mental well-being.

how tcm manages pain & aches

Common TCM techniques in Singapore

In Singapore, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) encompasses several common techniques that have been widely practiced:

Tui Na is a traditional Chinese massage technique that focuses on applying rhythmic pressure and manipulation to specific areas of the body. Practitioners use various hand techniques, including kneading, rubbing, and pressing, to target muscles, tendons, and acupressure points. Tui Na is known for its ability to alleviate pain, reduce muscle tension, improve flexibility, and enhance overall circulation. It is often used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for musculoskeletal conditions, sports injuries, and stress-related ailments. Learn how Tui Na can compliment your chiropractic journey.

Acupuncture is a cornerstone of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body known as acupuncture points or meridians. By stimulating these points, acupuncture aims to restore the flow of Qi (vital energy) and balance the body’s Yin and Yang energies. In Singapore, acupuncture is widely used for pain management, including back pain, migraines, arthritis, and neuropathic pain.

Cupping therapy is a technique that involves placing suction cups on the skin’s surface to create a negative pressure or vacuum effect. This suction promotes blood flow to the area, loosens tight muscles, and helps release toxins and metabolic waste from tissues. In Singapore, cupping is often used as a complementary therapy for musculoskeletal pain, respiratory conditions, detoxification, and immune system support. Learn what the side effects of cupping are.

Bone setting, also known as orthopedic manipulation or bone therapy, is a specialised technique within Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) aimed at correcting musculoskeletal misalignments and promoting joint mobility. Practitioners use manual manipulation, gentle traction, and stretching techniques to realign bones, tendons, and ligaments. In Singapore, bone setting is utilized to address a range of conditions such as joint dislocations, sprains, strains, sports injuries, and certain musculoskeletal issues. Learn how bone setting differs from chiropractic adjustments here.

Efficacy of relieving pains & aches with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offers a holistic approach to addressing pains and aches, drawing on centuries-old practices. The efficacy of TCM in managing pain has been a subject of debate, with differing beliefs regarding its effectiveness.

On one hand, many individuals and practitioners attest to the benefits of TCM therapies such as acupuncture, Tui Na massage, cupping, and herbal remedies. They cite positive outcomes, including pain relief, improved mobility, reduced inflammation, and overall wellness enhancement.

Conversely, some skeptics question the scientific evidence supporting TCM’s efficacy in pain management. They argue that the mechanisms of action proposed by TCM, such as meridian theory and Qi flow, lack empirical validation according to Western medical standards. Skeptics also raise concerns about inconsistent treatment outcomes, variability in practitioner skills, and potential placebo effects influencing perceived benefits.

Despite these differing beliefs, it’s essential to recognise that individual responses to TCM therapies can vary widely. Some people may experience significant pain relief and improvements in their condition, while others may not achieve the desired outcomes. Factors such as the specific type of pain, underlying health conditions, adherence to treatment plans, and the expertise of the TCM practitioner can all influence the perceived efficacy of TCM for addressing pains and aches.

What's the downside?

Understanding the side effects of TCM treatments

Like any medical treatment, TCM therapies may have side effects. Here are some common side effects associated with specific TCM treatments:

Chiro vs TCM
Chiro vs TCM
Chiro vs TCM

Side effects of Tui Na massage

Tui Na is a therapeutic form of Chinese massage that can be highly effective for relieving muscle tension and promoting relaxation. However, it may also have potential side effects, including:

  • Soreness: Some individuals may experience temporary soreness or discomfort after a Tui Na session, especially if deep pressure techniques are used or if the muscles were particularly tense.
  • Bruising: In rare cases, vigorous or improper massage techniques may lead to bruising, particularly in individuals with sensitive skin or underlying conditions that affect blood clotting.

Side effects of acupuncture

Acupuncture involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body to stimulate energy flow and promote healing. While acupuncture is generally safe, potential side effects may include:

  • Bruising: Minor bruising at the needle insertion sites is a common side effect of acupuncture, especially if multiple needles are used or if the skin is sensitive.
  • Pain or discomfort: Some people may experience mild pain, tingling, or discomfort during acupuncture, particularly if the needles are inserted deeply or in sensitive areas.

Side effects of cupping therapy

Cupping therapy uses suction cups to create a negative pressure on the skin, promoting blood flow and relieving muscle tension. Side effects of cupping may include:

  • Skin irritation: The suction cups can sometimes cause temporary redness, marks, or skin irritation at the cupping sites. These marks typically fade within a few days/weeks and are not usually painful.
  • Bruising: Similar to Tui Na and acupuncture, cupping can occasionally lead to bruising, especially if the cups are left in place for an extended period or if the suction is too strong.

Side effects of bone setting

Bone setting techniques are used to manipulate joints and bones to improve mobility. While bone setting can be beneficial, it may also carry risks such as:

  • Discomfort: Some discomfort or soreness may occur during or after bone setting procedures, particularly if there are underlying musculoskeletal issues or if the manipulation is intense.
  • Risk of injury: In rare cases, aggressive or improper bone setting techniques may lead to injuries such as sprains, strains, or exacerbation of existing joint problems.

Understanding the key differences between chiropractic care & TCM treatment

When comparing chiropractic care and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) treatment, it’s important to recognise the fundamental differences between these two approaches to healthcare. Here are the key distinctions:

Chiropractic care focuses primarily on the musculoskeletal system, nervous system and spine alignment, while TCM considers the holistic balance of energies within the body.

Chiropractic care uses spinal adjustments and soft tissue therapies, whereas TCM employs acupuncture, herbal medicine, massage, and other therapies.

Chiropractic care emphasises structural alignment and nervous system function, while TCM emphasises energetic balance, organ health, and harmony.

Chiropractic care is well-suited for mechanical issues like back pain, joint problems and nerve-related conditions, whereas TCM offers a broader approach to body imbalances.

Chiropractors use biomechanical assessments, X-rays, and physical exams, while TCM practitioners rely on traditional diagnostic methods and holistic health evaluations.

Chiropractic care for pains & aches

Chiropractic care focuses on the musculoskeletal system, particularly the spine, and its impact on overall health. Chiropractors use hands-on spinal adjustments and other techniques to correct misalignments, improve mobility, and alleviate pain.

The role of chiropractors in long-term relief

Chiropractors play a vital role in providing long-term pain relief by addressing the root causes of pain and discomfort, particularly related to the musculoskeletal system. Here’s how regular chiropractic adjustments can tackle the root cause of pain issues:

Chiropractors focus on ensuring proper spinal alignment, which is crucial for optimal nerve function and overall musculoskeletal health. Misalignments, also known as subluxations, can put pressure on nerves, leading to pain, inflammation, and restricted mobility. Through precise adjustments, chiropractors correct these misalignments, relieving nerve compression and restoring normal nerve signalling.

Poor posture is a contributing factor to many musculoskeletal problems, including back pain, neck pain, and headaches. Chiropractors assess posture and biomechanics to identify postural imbalances and ergonomic issues. Through targeted adjustments and corrective exercises, they help patients improve posture, strengthen supporting muscles, and prevent future pain and injuries.

Learn more about the correct sitting posture here.

Muscle tension, often chronic, can lead to significant pain and discomfort, particularly in regions like the neck, shoulders, and lower back. Chiropractors utilise adjustments and stretching to directly target and alleviate muscle tension and tightness. These methods work by releasing muscle knots, enhancing circulation, and improving muscle flexibility. As a result, chiropractic care promotes more even weight distribution and proper function of the body, leading to a substantial reduction in pain caused by muscle imbalances and tension.

Learn more about muscle tension here.

Regular chiropractic care not only relieves current pain but also helps prevent degenerative changes in the spine and joints. By maintaining proper alignment, reducing stress on joints, and promoting spinal health, chiropractic adjustments can slow down the progression of conditions like osteoarthritis, disc degeneration, and joint wear and tear.

At Chiropractic Singapore, we take a holistic approach to pain management, addressing not just symptoms but also underlying factors contributing to pain. We work with patients to develop personalised care plans that may include adjustments, rehabilitative exercises, lifestyle modifications, and ergonomic advice. This comprehensive approach ensures that patients receive ongoing support and guidance for long-term pain relief and improved quality of life.


What is the process of seeing a chiropractor?

If it’s your first time visiting a chiropractor, here’s a step-by-step guide to help you understand the process:

Chiropractor answers frequently asked questions at Chiropractic SingaporeAs you arrive at our centre, expect minimal wait times, typically just enough to complete your initial paperwork. This paperwork is essential for our health partners and your attending chiropractor to gain insight into your health history and current needs. We recommend arriving 10 minutes before your appointment to complete this paperwork.

The initial consultation, lasting approximately 20 minutes, is a crucial phase in your chiropractic journey. During this comprehensive spinal check-up, your chiropractor will focus on understanding your condition and concerns.

They will explain the causes of joint dysfunction, the role of chiropractic adjustments, and the numerous benefits chiropractic care can provide. If you’ve never had your spine assessed before, this is the perfect opportunity to have your questions answered by the chiropractor. Following this, a series of tests will be conducted to gain a holistic understanding of your spinal health.

Spinal Examination for Chiropractic careYour chiropractor will perform a physical examination and palpation of your spine. Our friendly health partners will then conduct additional spinal examinations, including:

  • A visual posture assessment
  • Posture photo analysis
  • Bilateral weight distribution assessment
  • Computerised spinal range of motion measurement
  • Surface electromyography scan

Spinal x-ray for Chiropractic careBased on the initial consultation and examinations, our chiropractors may recommend spinal X-rays to assess the severity and degree of degeneration in your spine. This step is crucial for your safety and ensures that the chiropractor has a comprehensive understanding of your condition.

Report of findings in CHiropractic careAfter your X-rays have been taken, you’ll return for a second consultation with the chiropractor to review the results of your tests and X-rays. This session typically lasts about 45 minutes and includes a discussion of whether chiropractic care can offer relief for your condition or if other specialists should be considered.

If chiropractic care is recommended, the chiropractor will perform adjustments during this session and provide their personalised recommendation for your condition.

managing neck pain from pillow with chiropractic singaporeOur chiropractic spinal check-up is exclusively focused on assessment and does not include adjustments. We are dedicated to providing personalised care, understanding that not everyone is suited for adjustments. By omitting adjustments from our check-ups, we prioritise your well-being, ensuring you only pay for services tailored to your needs and avoiding charges for services that may not be safe or necessary for you.

If adjustments are recommended based on the assessment results, they are discussed and scheduled separately after the check-up. This approach allows you to make informed decisions about your care, ensuring a customised and effective chiropractic experience.

If you opt for regular adjustments, our team will work with you to create a schedule for weekly or monthly visits, kickstarting your pain relief journey. Your journey to wellness begins here!


Your first chiropractic check-up

1. Consultation with the Chiropractor
The Chiropractor will use your history intake form to understand your pain points, clinical history, and your health goals.

We will use this to discuss the pain and injuries that you are experiencing.
2. Comprehensive Spinal Examination
To get an in-depth understanding of your condition, we utilise a comprehensive series of 6 different tests to evaluate the health and alignment of your spine.

This helps us gain a holistic understanding of your condition.
3. Spinal X-rays
(if required)
In many cases, spinal X-rays are critical in confirming an accurate diagnosis. They tell us how severe the possible misalignments are, and if there are any complicating factors present.

We work with off-site radiology partners to take your X-rays, and this will be done between your first and second session.
4. Your Spinal Health Report
After your initial check-up, we will schedule you for your follow-up consultation with the Chiropractor to go through results of the check-up.

At this appointment, we will explain to you the findings, your suitability for chiropractic care, and our best recommendations on any action that needs to be taken.


How Traditional Chinese Medicine can supplement your chiropractic care

Adjustment for pain relief

TCM can complement chiropractic care by addressing aspects of wellness such as stress reduction, improved circulation, and overall balance, enhancing the impacts of chiropractic care.

  • Tui Na Massage: Tui Na can complement chiropractic care by targeting specific areas of tension and promoting relaxation, which can aid in reducing stress and improving overall well-being.
  • Acupuncture: Acupuncture can enhance the effects of chiropractic care by stimulating energy flow, reducing pain perception, and supporting the body’s natural healing processes.
  • Cupping Therapy: Cupping therapy can improve circulation, release muscle tension, and promote detoxification, providing additional benefits that synergise with chiropractic adjustments for enhanced pain relief and wellness.


Chiropractic care and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) are both considered safe when administered by qualified practitioners. However, in terms of safety, chiropractic care is often regarded as particularly safe due to its non-invasive nature and minimal risk of side effects. Unlike some TCM treatments that may have potential side effects like bruising, skin irritation, or temporary soreness, chiropractic adjustments typically have no side effects when performed correctly.

Chiropractors focus on restoring proper spinal alignment and nerve function, allowing the body to naturally heal and function optimally. This approach emphasises the body’s innate ability to heal itself, making chiropractic care a safe and effective choice for many individuals seeking holistic pain management and wellness solutions.

Chiropractic care is particularly effective for musculoskeletal issues such as back pain, neck pain, headaches, and joint problems that stem from spinal misalignments or mechanical issues.

The cost of chiropractic care versus Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can vary based on several factors, including location, practitioner experience, frequency of visits, and the specific services provided.
To accurately understand the full picture of pricing for chiropractic care or TCM, it’s recommended to come in for an initial consultation. During this consultation, a qualified practitioner can assess your specific needs, provide a diagnosis or evaluation, and discuss potential care options tailored to your condition. This consultation will also give you an opportunity to inquire about pricing for different services, including any additional therapies or modalities that may be recommended. By getting a comprehensive assessment and understanding of the proposed care plan, you can make an informed decision about the cost and benefits of chiropractic care or TCM for your health and wellness goals.