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 to control sensation and movement.” (www.mayfieldclinic.com/PE-AnatSpine) 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 the correct functioning of the nervous system. This helps the body to heal naturally without the use of drugs or surgery. According to Sherrie Mcgregor, Ph.D., “Chiropractors use their hands or special equipment to make “adjustments” to the spine and related body structures. This is useful for some people with back pain, and sometimes appears to help with other disorders.”
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 who is 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.” (www.wfc.org) A chiropractor will have attended chiropractic college and earn a professional doctorate, which in most cases means they will have 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
“Chiropractic treatment focuses on the relationship between the structure of the body (mainly the spine) and how it functions,” according to Wayne Jonas M.D. 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 lying facedown on an 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.
In 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. “If manipulation is at least as effective and as safe as conventional care, it may be an appropriate choice for some patients with uncomplicated acute low back pain,” wrote Dr. Richard A. Deyo, M.D., M.P.H. They will often give the patient immediate relief from pain. If someone has or feels an illness coming on, 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 a totally new and different movement for the body so soreness can, but doesn’t always, occur.
Another non-pharmaceutical, non-surgery health management technique that can be adopted by anyone who wants a more non-invasive, natural treatment.