Chiropractic Treatments and Care
by Wendy Gallego, DC
Chiropractic is the field of healthcare that has its main focus in the treatment and maintenance of the nervous system. It is this system, comprised of the brain and spinal cord, which has been termed the “master system” due to its control of all other systems in our body.
Chiropractic care is safe and effective for all ages from infants to the elderly. Many patients get adjusted on a regular basis as preventative wellness care.
The nervous system is housed within the vertebrae or “back bones”, so it is often through the adjustment of these vertebrae that the treatment is rendered. Through the use of specific adjustments, as well as, physical therapy modalities and sensory stimulation, chiropractors have been successful in evoking a change in the environment of the brain and spinal cord and therefore affording their patients improved function in all systems and a higher quality of life.
Other procedures may be suggested to help reduce inflammation, provide relief or enhance the healing process. These may include interferential therapy, ultrasound, moist heat or cold packs.
Chiropractic care is safer than aspirin, muscle relaxants and back surgery. Some patients get results quickly, while others may take longer. Chiropractic care is safe and effective for all ages from infants to the elderly. Many patients get adjusted on a regular basis as preventative wellness care. Professional athletes such as Tiger Woods, Jerry Rice, Wade Boggs, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Evander Holyfield, to name a few, receive chiropractic care on a regular basis. Most Olympic and professional teams have an on-staff chiropractor as well as other healthcare providers.
Pain relief is actually a side effect of chiropractic care.
Pain relief is actually a side effect of chiropractic care. Chiropractic has its greatest effect on the nervous system. The nervous system is comprised of the brain, the spinal cord and all the nerves that originate from the spinal cord, which travel out innervating every part of our body. When a person experiences pain, what is really happening is due to an injury or degenerative change there is damage to a tissue (i.e. muscle, ligament, tendon, skin, bone, organ…). This damage either applies pressure on to the nerve which then sends a signal to the brain causing us to experience pain, or the tissue itself releases chemicals in response to the damage which also sends a signal to the brain to cause us to feel pain. This is why pain relievers work (don't be fooled- it's only temporary), their action is on the signal causing our brain to tell us we have pain- it blocks or quiets the signal.
Chiropractic's action is also on the nervous system, but instead of blocking the pain signals, the goal is removal or repair of the disturbance, blockage or damage causing the pain. This is accomplished primarily through the adjustment. Let's use the example where a person visits a chiropractor due to pain in their low back. We already know that if this person is experiencing pain then there is a nerve that is transmitting a signal to the brain to allow us to experience it. The job of the chiropractor is to find out what is causing the nerve to send its pain signal. Is it mechanical pressure on the nerve and if so, what is causing the actual mechanical pressure- or is it chemicals being released from damaged tissue and if so, then what caused the damaged tissue in the first place?
Through patient history, physical examination and X-rays the chiropractor determines the cause of the pain and then begins the process of correcting it through adjustments, which may be delivered to the vertebrae or any other joint in the body (i.e. shoulder, elbow, knee) and hence, the process of correcting the problem begins.
The correction occurs either by aligning the joints in the case of a misalignment causing a mechanical pressure or by using the adjustment in a specific area of the body and a specific side of the body to cause stimulation to the central nervous system which will, in turn, help to restore the body's own recuperative abilities.
We can take this one step further as well. In our example above, the person has low back pain. Well, the same nerve that allows us to experience pain in the low back also shares the same origin as the nerve that innervates the bowel, the bladder, the reproductive organs and every other structure from approximately the level of the waist, down to the feet. Although the patient may have had no idea that the two were related, they may also be experiencing problems such as constipation, bladder problems, knee pain, etc. due to the mechanical pressure or the tissue damage in the same region. So, one can see the importance of addressing and eliminating a problem rather than just covering it up and in doing so, there will be an elimination of pain as well as a restoration of proper function back to the areas that are innervated by that region of the nervous system. Since the nervous system controls all of the systems in the body, health in one area of this system will also serve to promote health in all the surrounding areas.
Wouldn't it be great if all side effects were so beneficial and wanted?
Remember it is best to have regular check ups to be sure your alignment is proper and your nervous system is functioning as it should so you don't have to reach the point of experiencing pain and/or dysfunction. Prevention is the key.