SPINE ANATOMY 101
The spine is the main support for our bodies and it lets us stand up straight, bend, and twist while also defending the spinal cord from damage. The spinal cord is made of 33 vertebrae, which are stacked in an interlocking pattern. “Thirty-one pairs of spinal nerves branch off of the spinal cord. The spinal nerves carry messages back and forth between the body and spinal cord controls sensation and movement.” Each spinal nerve is associated with the vertebrae above, which it comes from. When there is pain or illness in the body, it is associated with specific vertebrae in the spinal cord and, therefore, can mean that there is a problem with the nerves associated with the specific vertebrae. That is where a chiropractor comes in.
WHAT IS CHIROPRACTIC?
Chiropractic is a natural type of health treatment that uses spinal manipulations to realign the spine and to re-establish correct functioning of the nervous system. This helps the body to heal naturally without the use of drugs or surgery. When a chiropractor adjusts your spine, the natural flow of the messages and energy in your nerves is restored and your body can go about its job without interruption. It’s just like if there were a river and a dam was built across it, the water couldn’t flow properly. When the dam is removed, the water can continue its flow. A simplified example, but it explains the process quite well.
WHAT IS A CHIROPRACTOR?
A chiropractor is a “health care professional concerned with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system and the effects of these disorders on the function of the nervous system and general health.” A chiropractor must have attended chiropractic college and earn a professional doctorate, which in most cases means that they already received a bachelor’s degree from another educational institution. They need to do a minimum of 1000 hours of supervised clinicals and must pass a board exam to become licensed. Chiropractic is usually categorized as alternative or complementary medicine.
WHAT TO EXPECT AT A CHIROPRACTICE APPOINTMENT
Since the chiropractor needs to see how your spine is doing, they will take x-rays. Most chiropractors will be able to tell from looking at a patient what their issues might be because of the position of the vertebrae (when laying facedown on a exam bench), how a patient is standing and their posture. It is uncanny how they see a patient and then will ask, “Are you having issues with __________________?” 9-1/2 out of 10 times, that is the issue that the patient is having. The chiropractor will have a discussion about the issues that the patient is having and will also consult the x-ray. A treatment plan will then be presented.
At the beginning, a patient may go for treatment several times a week, then once a week, then bi-weekly and then monthly, depending upon the specific issue. Monthly maintenance appointments are then scheduled to keep the spine aligned. Everyday life (movements, falls, sleep positions, sitting positions, etc) subluxates, or partially dislocates, our spine and it needs to be realigned for proper functioning.
The manipulations do not hurt. They will often give the patient immediate relief from pain. If someone has or feels an illness coming, the realignment can alleviate or speed the healing of the illness. Sometimes chiropractors will prescribe an icing regimen when they begin their adjustments in case of any soreness. When manipulations begin, they are totally new and different movements for the body so soreness can, but doesn’t always, occur.
Chiropractic is another non-pharmaceutical, non-surgery health management technique that can be adopted by anyone who wants a more non-invasive, natural treatment.