Chiropractic for people is known to help keep the spine and joints healthy and to help alleviate muscle and nerve related symptoms like back pain, neck pain, sciatica, headaches, carpal tunnel and more.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- What is Chiropractic?
- How Can Chiropractic Help Me?
- What Is An Adjustment?
- How Long Will I Need Chiropractic Care?
- Is Chiropractic Care Safe?
- Do I Have A Pinched Nerve?
- Do I Have A Slipped Disc?
- How Does The Adjustment Work?
- Is There A Way I Can Speed The Healing Process?
- What Ages Benefit From Chiropractic Care?
- What is a Subluxation and what does it do to me?
- Are Chiroprators real doctors?
What Is Chiropractic?
Chiropractic is based on applying scientific fact to stimulating your body’s own remarkable resources. These important self-regulating and self-healing functions are controlled by your brain, spinal cord, and nerves. When the nervous system is impaired through illness, injury or stress it can cause tissues and organs throughout the body to function poorly. Doctors call this degenerative chain reaction the vertebral subluxation complex. It is an underlying cause of many health problems. With chiropractic’s hands-on, drug-free health care approach, millions have found a healthier lifestyle through diet, exercise and maintaining proper spinal function.
What truly differentiates doctors of chiropractic from any other healthcare professionals is the fact that chiropractors are the only professionals who are trained to diagnose and treat what are called spinal subluxations. The word “subluxation” comes from the Latin words meaning “somewhat or slight” (sub) and “to dislocate” (luxate). So the term ‘vertebral subluxation’ literally means a slight dislocation or misalignment of the bones in the spine.
How Can Chiropractic Help Me?
Injury, stress or chronic pain most often are the reasons people seek chiropractic care. Because chiropractic treats the underlying causes of these problems rather than just relieving symptoms, your body’s natural healing processes work for you. The chiropractic approach to better health is to locate and help correct interferences to your body’s natural state of good health.
Today’s Doctor of Chiropractic is highly trained in identifying and evaluating functional problems associated with the spinal column and skilled in restoring proper spinal biomechanics and nerve function.
With a program of regular spinal maintenance, many patients recover a degree of health and vigor greater than they enjoyed before their problem occurred.
What Is An Adjustment?
When performing an adjustment your doctor applies precisely directed force to a joint that is “locked up” or not moving properly. Restoring normal motion to joints can allow bones to gradually return to a more proper position and your body to function as it should. This safe, natural approach to removing interferences with spinal and nervous system function can improve your overall health.
This is not to say, however, that all adjustments are the same. Just as chiropractors are different individually, so are the many techniques. Usually the doctor’s hands or a specially designed instrument deliver a quick, therapeutic thrust to the affected joint. Other techniques however may require slow, constant pressure.
Based upon years of training and experience, and careful evaluation of your unique spinal problem, the doctor will recommend an individual program of care.
How Long Will I Need Chiropractic Care?
Each patient is unique. Long-standing or neglected problems may require ongoing care to restore and maintain good spinal health. The truth is, you wouldn’t expect just one of the twenty pills of any prescription to produce a cure, so you shouldn’t expect only one adjustment to do that either. Healing takes time. While some patients seek chiropractic care only when pain is unbearable, this “crisis” approach is often time-consuming, costly and uncomfortable. Most patients find that the best results come from a regular individual care program and periodic chiropractic checkups.
Discuss your expectations for care with your doctor and ask questions about how you can achieve optimum spinal health. It’s your decision.
Is Chiropractic Care Safe?
Chiropractic has an excellent safety record. While it’s not unusual to hear of injuries from mis-prescribed drugs, drug overdoses, drug combinations and erroneous treatments in the medical profession, it is extremely rare to hear of a problem resulting from chiropractic care. According to a government study in New Zealand, chiropractic care was found to be “remarkably safe.”
Chiropractic doctors are trained to practice and perform hundreds to thousands of manipulations before delivering them to a patient. To become a Doctor of Chiropractic, the candidate must first pass the demanding National Board Examination. Then, to apply for a professional license the doctor must pass an even more rigorous test before winning the privilege to practice.
Guided by a thorough case history and examination, your doctor will evaluate your individual needs and determine a course of treatment. This conservative, natural approach to better health avoids the dangers associated with invasive procedures and addictive drugs.
Do I Have A Pinched Nerve?
Pain is usually the reason most patients consult with a Doctor of Chiropractic. Most patients have heard the term “pinched nerve” and, some may even know that it’s associated with pain, numbness, burning, or a “pins and needles” feeling. In truth, the compression lesion or pinched nerve is rare, causing only 10 to 15% of spine-related problems.
More often, pain comes from nerve tissues irritated by the rubbing, stretching or scraping of malfunctioning spinal joints. Such malfunctions can be caused by many everyday events including physical trauma or emotional stress. Chemical toxins can also affect the delicate tissues of the spinal cord and nerve roots.
Do I Have A Slipped Disc?
Discs are the cartilage-like cushions occupying the spaces between spinal bones. Serving as spinal shock absorbers, they allow the back to turn and bend normally. Because each disc is attached to the vertebrae both above and below, there is no way for them to actually “slip” out of place. But trauma or injury to the spine can cause discs to tear, bulge, herniate or even rupture. The resulting pressure on surrounding nerve tissues can be intensely painful.
Each case is different so results cannot be guaranteed, however many patients have found relief in chiropractic care and are happy to avoid surgery or dependency on pain medication.
How Does The Adjustment Work?
To illustrate this principle, imagine a garden hose as a nerve and the water flowing through the hose as nerve impulses. When the hose is laid out straight without any kinks, water flows freely. If on the other hand the hose gets compressed or kinked, water flow is reduced or even stops. If this condition persists, eventually, the hose becomes damaged.
Like removing the kink from the hose, a spinal adjustment can ease pressure on a nerve, allowing nerve impulses to flow and protect the nerve from further damage.
Cavitation, a pop or click sound, is often heard or felt by the patient during the adjustment. Much like the opening of a carbonated soda can, cavitation is caused by a rapid release of air bubbles that have been under pressure within the joint. Cavitation occurs more often than not during an adjustment, but it does not have to occur for the adjustment to be effective.
Is There A Way I Can Speed The Healing Process?
The body’s natural healing ability can’t be hurried. However, there are several things you can do to give yourself the best chance for a speedy recovery. Your doctor will teach you proper sitting and lifting postures. Specific exercises to strengthen and retrain the muscles supporting your spine also may be recommended.
While you are healing, get as much rest as your body needs, but avoid sleeping on your stomach. Eat a healthy balanced diet. If you are overweight, this is the best time to reduce stress to your spine by taking off extra pounds.
Most important of all, keep all your appointments and follow your doctor’s recommendations for the best results.
What Ages Benefit From Chiropractic Care?
All ages can enjoy healthier living through chiropractic care. For seniors, improved spinal function can mean better mobility, endurance, appetite, and an improvement in many age-related ailments. Children and even infants also can benefit. Because spinal trauma can occur at birth and later childhood activities also may cause spinal problems, most parents prefer to have their children checked regularly.
When the body is changing through growth or through aging, maintaining good spinal and nervous system health is especially important. For all ages, the safe, natural chiropractic approach to health maintenance makes sense.
What is a Subluxation and what does it do to me?
In simplest terms, a subluxation (a.k.a. Vertebral Subluxation) is when one or more of the bones of your spine (vertebrae) move out of position and create pressure on, or irritate spinal nerves. Spinal nerves are the nerves that come out from between each of the bones in your spine. This pressure or irritation on the nerves then causes those nerves to malfunction and interfere with the signals traveling over those nerves.
How does this affect you? Your nervous system controls and coordinates all the functions of your body. If you interfere with the signals traveling over nerves, parts of your body will not get the proper nerve messages and will not be able to function at 100% of their innate abilities. In other words, some part of your body will not be working properly.
It is the responsibility of the Doctor of Chiropractic to locate subluxations, and reduce or correct them. This is done through a series of chiropractic adjustments specifically designed to correct the vertebral subluxations in your spine. Chiropractors are the only professionals who undergo years of training to be the experts at correcting subluxations.
When a subluxation occurs, a chiropractor can correct the misaligned bone and allow it to return to its proper position. This procedure is appropriately called an adjustment, and the adjustment enables the body to heal. The chiropractic adjustment is a quick thrust applied to a vertebra for the purpose of correcting its position, movement or both. Adjustments are often accompanied by an audible release of gas that sounds like a “crack.” The sound sometimes shocks people a little bit the first couple times they get adjusted, but the sensation is usually relieving. Occasionally, minor discomfort is experienced, especially if the surrounding muscles are in spasm or the patient tenses up during the chiropractic procedure. There are times when the audible “cracking” does not occur. This is often due to either significant muscle tightness or that the patient may be having a hard time relaxing during their adjustments. However, the chiropractic adjustment is still important. The leak is fixed. The wiring is fixed. Information is flowing again. To keep the wiring fixed, several adjustments over a course of time may be necessary, in addition to massage, physical therapy, stretching exercises, or strengthening exercises. In the chiropractic world, keeping the problem fixed and preventing its reoccurrence is just as important as the initial remedy.
There are actually five components that contribute to the vertebral subluxation complex (VSC).
- Bone Component-where the vertebra is either out of position, not moving properly, or are undergoing degeneration. This frequently leads to a narrowing of the spaces between the bones through which the nerves pass; often resulting in irritation or impingement of the nerve itself.
- Nervous Component-is the disruption of the normal flow of energy along the nerve fibers, causing the messages traveling along the nerves to become distorted. The result is that all of the tissues that are fed by those nerves receive distorted signals from the brain and, consequently, are not able to function normally. Over time, this can lead to a whole host of conditions, such as peptic ulcers, constipation and other organ system dysfunction.
- Muscular Component-since nerves control the muscles that help hold the vertebrae in place, muscles have to be considered to be an integral part of the vertebral subluxation complex. In fact, muscles both affect, and are affected by the VSC. A subluxation can irritate a nerve, the irritated nerve can cause a muscle to spasm, the spasmed muscle pulls the attached vertebrae further out of place, which then further irritates the nerve and you have a vicious cycle. It is no wonder that very few subluxations just go away by themselves.
- Soft Tissue Component-the VSC will also affect the surrounding tendons, ligaments, blood supply, and other tissues as the misaligned vertebrae tug and squeeze the connective tissue with tremendous force. Over time, the soft tissues can become stretched out or scarred, leaving the spine with either a permanent instability or restriction.
- Chemical Component-is the change in the chemistry of the body due to the VSC. Most often, the chemical changes, such as the release of a class of chemicals called “kinins,” are pro-inflammatory; meaning that they increase inflammation in the affected area.
These changes get progressively worse over time if they are not treated correctly, leading to chronic pain, inflammation, arthritis, muscle trigger points, the formation of bone spurs, loss of movement, as well as muscle weakness and spasm. Chiropractors have known the dangers of the vertebral subluxation complex ever since the birth of the profession. More and more scientific research is demonstrating the tremendous detrimental impact that subluxation have on the tissue of the body. In order to be truly healthy, it is vital that your nervous system be functioning free of interference from subluxations. Chiropractors are the only health professionals trained in the detection, location, and correction of the vertebral subluxation complex through chiropractic care.
As successful as chiropractic has become, there are a lot of myths circulating among the general public. Times have definitely changed for the better, but the fact is that many people still do not understand what chiropractors do. Let’s talk about a few of the more common myths about chiropractic.
Myth #1 – Chiropractors are not real doctors.
A chiropractic college grants a D.C. or Doctorate of Chiropractic degree. Chiropractors are licensed as health care providers in every U.S. state and dozens of countries around the world. While the competition for acceptance in chiropractic school is not as fierce as medical school, the chiropractic and medical school curricula are extremely rigorous and virtually identical. In fact, chiropractors have more hours of classroom education than their medical counterparts. As part of their education, chiropractic students also complete a residency working with real patients in a clinical setting, supervised by licensed doctors of chiropractic. Once chiropractic students graduate, they have to pass four sets of national board exams as well as state board exams in the states where they want to practice.
Just like medical doctors, chiropractors are professionals that are subject to the same type of testing procedures, licensing and monitoring by state and national peer-reviewed boards. Federal and state programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Workers’ Compensations programs cover chiropractic care, and all federal agencies accept sick-leave certificates signed by doctors of chiropractic. Chiropractors are also commissioned as officers in the military.
The biggest difference between chiropractors and medical doctors lies not in their level of education, but in their preferred method of caring for people. Medical doctors are trained in the use of medicines (chemicals that affect your internal biochemistry) and surgery. Consequently, if you have a chemical problem, such as diabetes, hypothyroidism, or an infection, medical doctors can be very helpful. However, if your problem is that your spine is mis-aligned or you have soft tissue damage causing pain, there is no chemical in existence that can fix it. You need a physical solution to correct a physical problem. That is where chiropractic really shines. Chiropractors provide physical solutions — adjustments, exercises, stretches, muscle therapy — to help the body heal from conditions that are physical in origin, such as back pain, muscle spasms, headaches, and poor posture. Another distinction is the fact that it is completely appropriate to receive chiropractic care even if you do not have symptoms. Unlike standard medical doctors, whom you visit when you have a symptom to be treated, chiropractors offer adjustments to improve spinal alignment and overall well-being before symptoms develop.
Myth #2 – Medical doctors don’t like chiropractors.
The American Medical Association’s opposition to chiropractic was at its strongest in the 1940s under the leadership of Morris Fishbein. Fishbein called chiropractors “rabid dogs” and referred to them as “playful and cute, but killers” He tried to portray chiropractors as members of an unscientific cult who cared about nothing but taking their patients’ money. Up to the late 1970s and early 1980s, the medical establishment purposely conspired to try to destroy the profession of chiropractic. In fact, a landmark lawsuit in the Supreme Court of Illinois in the 1980s found that the American Medical Association was guilty of conspiracy and was ordered to pay restitution to the chiropractic profession.
In the 20 years since, the opinion of most medical doctors has changed: several major studies have shown the superiority of chiropractic in helping people with a host of conditions, and medical doctors developed a better understanding as to what chiropractors actually do. Many people have returned to their medical doctors and told them about the great results they experienced at their chiropractors office. Hospitals across the country now have chiropractors on staff, and many chiropractic offices have medical doctors on staff. Chiropractors and medical doctors are now much more comfortable working together in cases where medical care is necessary as an adjunct to chiropractic care.
Myth #3 – Once you start going to a chiropractor, you have to keep going for the rest of your life.
This statement comes up frequently when the topic of chiropractic is discussed. It is only partially true. You only have to continue going to the chiropractor as long as you wish to maintain the health of your neuromusculoskeletal system. Going to a chiropractor is much like going to the dentist, exercising at a gym, or eating a healthy diet: As long as you keep it up, you continue to enjoy the benefits.
Many years ago, dentists convinced everyone that the best time to go to the dentist is before your teeth hurt, that routine dental care will help your teeth remain healthy for a long time. The same is true of chiropractic care for your spine. It is important to remember that, just like your teeth, your spine experiences normal wear and tear as you walk, drive, sit, lift, sleep, and bend. Routine chiropractic care can help you feel better, move with more freedom, and stay healthier throughout your lifetime. Although you can enjoy the benefits of chiropractic care even if you receive care for a short time, the real benefits come into play when you make chiropractic care a part of your wellness lifestyle.