How does chiropractic work?
Chiropractors like many other health practitioners look at the body as a whole when they treat you. A chiropractor considers the body to be like a living machine - if a joint is misaligned or damaged then the smooth running of the machine can be upset causing inflammation, pressure on nerves and subsequent medical problems.
Chiropractors believe stress, poor posture and accidents, including sports injuries and the like can all stop the body machine running smoothly. Almost any aspect of health might be affected by problems in the spine. For instance, pressure on nerves connected to the intestines could be the root cause of some digestive disorders. Conversely, digestive problems cause excitation to nervous tissue which can impede the body's ability to heal optimally! Chiropractic manipulation of the spine at the point where these nerves emerge from the spinal cord through the vertebra could remedy such a disorder. Chiropractic can deal with many disorders other than back problems.
What happens during a treatment?
Your first session with a chiropractor often involves an assessment of posture, mobility of joints, and usually lifestyle. There are various standard tests such as the Thomas test, which determines mobility in the hip joints, the Yeoman's test which involves the practitioner flexing your legs one at a time to assess joints for sprain and mobility. The chiropractor might also ask you to bend, raise your legs, test your reflexes, take your blood pressure or even an X-ray to build up a more detailed picture of a problem.
As with osteopathy, chiropractors try to track down restricted or excessive joint movement, especially in the spine because they believe these problems result in nflammation, swelling and pressure that leads to pain and illness.
A chiropractor might use some massage to loosen stiff muscles before focusing on the manipulation techniques. Manipulation usually involves a sharp, precise thrusting movement of a joint to 'free it up'. There are several standard techniques aimed at making, what chiropractors refer to as, adjustments. However, a new school of thought among progressive chiropractors avoids the forceful thrusting manipulations and instead relies on more gentle and tempered movements and stretches.
For instance, the Toggle Drop involves a swift and precise pressure applied with the hands to specific vertebrae in the spine while you lie face down. The Bunyon adjustment involves the practitioner applying a stretch between vertebra - a traction - to adjust the spine. The various manipulations often causes clicking noises, which can be quite alarming to the patient and may cause a little pain or discomfort at the time but this quickly eases off and the procedure has been shown to be extremely safe. Clicking noises are not caused by bone against bone, they are simply the sound of gases "popping" as they are expelled from where they may be trapped in the membrane surrounding a joint.
Chiropractic will often provide an effective long-term management of a condition and fully relieve symptoms. Chiropractors will help you get a better posture, suggest lifestyle changes that might help your overall health and teach you some easy exercises to do at home.
What is an Adjustment?
The chiropractic spinal adjustment is the cornerstone of the chiropractic care program. Spinal adjustments are used successfully to treat a variety of different soft tissue disorders as well as a number of other health problems.
Chiropractic adjustments usually involve a quick but gentle corrective force into the subluxated spinal vertebrae. This helps add motion to spinal joints that aren't moving correctly. Some methods use the doctor's hands, an instrument, a special table or the force of gravity. Adjustments are not and should not be painful. In fact, most individuals look forward to their chiropractic adjustments to experience immediate relief from discomfort.
Are Chiropractic Adjustments Safe?
Yes. A New Zealand government study found that adjustments are "remarkably safe." By avoiding drugs and risky surgery, chiropractic care enjoys an excellent track record. A thorough exam can identify the rare person for whom chiropractic care might be unsuited. Compare the statistics. Adjustments are about 100 times safer than taking an over-the-counter pain reliever.
What Does an Adjustment Do?
Adjusting helps correct vertebral subluxations. Correcting subluxations reduces pain and inflammation, reduces muscle spasm and tension, normalizes spinal biomechanics and more importantly, can remove nerve irritation and interference which can improve overall health and wellness of the individual. Chiropractic adjustments are the only way to eliminate vertebral subluxations and only the chiropractor is trained to detect subluxations and deliver the chiropractic spinal adjustment to correct subluxations.
Are There Other Types of Adjustments?
In addition to adjusting the spine and pelvis, almost every other joint of the body can be adjusted by the chiropractor. This includes the joints of the hands and feet, wrists and ankles, elbows and knees, shoulders and hips, ribs and the jaw. In fact, some chiropractors are even trained in techniques to adjust the joints (sutures) of the skull.
Is there scientific proof that chiropractic works?
Particularly for low back pain, yes. The Clinical Standards Advisory Group recommended in 1994 that there should be earlier access to the manipulative therapies and a redistribution of resources within the NHS to make this happen. In September 1996 the Royal College of General Practitioners issued guidelines for GPs which recommend manipulative treatment within the first six weeks for patients with low back pain. They also state that the risks of manipulation are very low in skilled hands.
Now research is beginning to concentrate on how chiropractic affects other areas of the musculo-skeletal system, including a trial at the University of Odense in Denmark 1 on the effect of spinal manipulation in the treatment of neck-related headache and a Canadian patient satisfaction study 2 which shows chiropractic as an effective means of resolving or improving back and/or neck pain.
Many chiropractors regularly report success in treating babies with colic, cases of asthma and high blood pressure, digestive complaints, period pain and many other conditions which are not directly related to the spine and joints. As a result, researchers all over the world, including the Anglo European College of Chiropractic and the British College of Chiropractic are also investigating the effect chiropractic has on pain and disease in the organs of the body.
Why do Children Need Chiropractic?
The normal birthing process places a tremendous amount of stress on the neck. If the baby's head presents in any other than a posterior occiput position (the baby's face is down), this can cause added stress. Any intervention such as vacuum or forceps causes additional trauma to the head and neck. Cesarean section is also considered a traumatic birth when considering the effects on the spine. Many obstetricians traction the head during a normal birth, using between 40 and 70 pounds of pressure, in order to birth the shoulder. This often causes damage to the cervical spine (neck) and the nerves that exit off the spine.
Even if you child came through the birth process without subluxations, they can be acquired afterwards. Babies neck muscles are weak and are unable to support the head. Infant car seats may be designed to protect a baby in the event of a crash, but they lack support of the neck. Whenever you stop and accelerate the car their heads go forward and back and side to side, which can cause vertebrae to subluxate.
Throughout the first year, a baby's spine will grow 50%. Whenever there is rapid growth, that is the time when things can go wrong. Regular chiropractic checkups ensure that your child's spine is growing properly. During the first year, they also develop the secondary curves of the spine in the neck and low back. If these curves fail to develop, there is a greater chance that they will develop scoliosis, or curvature of the spine.
Towards the end of the first year they will be learning how to walk and will fall an extraordinary amount of times. If you fell that often, do you think that your spine would feel the effects of the trauma?
As kids get older, they get even more active with more potential for physical trauma. And, if they play sports, that potential increases. And what about the child who sits at the computer or hunches over his hand-held game! Making sure that their spines are subluxation free means that your children can endure more physical stress with a lesser risk of injury.
Physical trauma is the most obvious reason kids need their spines checked out regularly, but emotional and toxic stress can also cause subluxations in kids. Many times children have accidents and parents may believe that they are fine because there is no external evidence of damage. Spinal subluxations sometimes don't signal an obvious symptom. The earlier children's spines are
checked, the earlier problems can be detected, preventing health problems from occurring and becoming serious. We recommend all children be checked regularly for nerve interference, even without symptoms present. Prevention is the best medicine.
Emotional stress, another cause of vertebral subluxation, is becoming a bigger issue for kids today as they try to cope with common scenarios like divorce, violence, and peer pressure. Our world is also becoming more toxic with an increase in pollution, packaged foods, and the number of recommended vaccines. Toxic overload can stress the body and cause subluxations. Chiropractic can help children adapt to these stresses so that they can function at a higher level.
If you know a child who is not under chiropractic care and suffers from any of the following problems, please urge the child's parent to consider Chiropractic.
- Poor Posture
- Stomach ache
- Hearing loss
- Ear infection
- Neck/back pain
- Leg/hip/foot pain
- Bed Wetting
- Skin problems
- One leg shorter
- Learning disorder
- Sinus problems
- Eye problems
- Poor concentration
- Hyper-activity/Attention deficit disorder
Just as it is recommended that children get regular dental checkups, it is important for kids to have their spines checked from birth onward. The only professional qualified to do this is a chiropractor. More and more, educated parents are choosing to take their children to chiropractors regularly, because they see that their children are healthier and happier!
Do I have a slipped disc?
Technically a disc can't slip. The intervertebral disc is a pad of cartilage type material between each spinal bone. Each disc serves as a shock absorber to allow normal movement. Trauma or injury to the spine can cause discs to tear, bulge, or worse, rupture. This can be quite painful, putting pressure on the nerve roots and spinal cord. Many patients have avoided needless surgery or dependency on drugs, by choosing chiropractic care for their disc related health problems.
Do I have a pinched nerve?
Many patients consult a chiropractic doctor because they think they have pinched nerve.
Because of the way your spine is designed, abnormal spinal function caused by physical trauma, emotional tensions, or chemical toxins can affect the delicate tissues of the spinal cord and nerve roots.
While commonly associated with the spine, the pinched nerve (compressive lesion) is actually rare. Researchers suggest that only 10% to 15% of spine related problems are caused by direct pressure of bone on nerve tissue! This can result in numbness, burning or a pins and needles feeling.
More frequently, nerves are irritated (facilitative lesion). This is caused when nerve tissue is rubbed, scraped, stretched by a loss of spinal curve, or irritated by malfunctioning spinal joints.
What if I have sciatica?
The sciatic nerve is made of 5 smaller nerves that exit from the spine. These nerves come together to form one large nerve, the sciatic nerve, which then travels down each leg. Sciatica is an irritation to the sciatic nerve somewhere along its pathway from either exiting the spine or entering the leg. Sciatica is not a condition as much as it is a symptom. Saying you have sciatica is like saying you have low back pain. The issue is not so much the symptom of the condition as it is the case of the condition. It is critical to find why you have sciatica not just that you have it. Chiropractic care is directed towards the correction of the "why" and allowing for the reduction in the irritation, proper healing and preventing the return of this very painful problem.