To help their patients’ bodies self-regulate and heal themselves, chiropractic doctors provide the most effective, natural and drug-free care possible. Aside from this natural, drug-free care, chiropractors also offer a variety of procedures, techniques and tools, each of which helps to treat acute trauma and degenerative conditions of the spine and joints.
A Natural Systemic Approach To Healing
Simply put, chiropractic is an overall way of looking at the human body, particularly the idea that bodies are not only self-sustaining, but self-healing as well. In essence, bodies are completely controlled by brains, mainly through their connections via spinal cords, along with all of the nerves that comprise them. If this system doesn’t function at its peak, bodies will be unable to achieve their maximum performance.
Again, drugs and medicine are never utilized to treat patients in the chiropractic world. After all, they’re typically viewed as Band-Aids that treat symptoms, rather than actually treating the real source of the problem.
Although many believe that, aside from offering drug-free treatments, chiropractors are solely focused on treating back and neck pain, there is so much involved in the profession. Not only do they treat soft and hard tissue problems like sciatica and joint pain, but chiropractors also successfully help patients overcome more significant issues, including, but not limited to, fibromyalgia, allergies, insomnia and headaches.
What Should I Expect?
More often than not, a visit to a chiropractor’s office is a new experience for most patients. Whether you’ve been referred by friends or conducted your own research about specific chiropractors online, you’re most likely tired of living with pain and determined to finally do something to relieve it. Regardless of how you found your chiropractor (or why), it is important for you to discuss your history, current condition and goals during your first appointment.
Like any other doctor’s visit, you’ll start by submitting new patient paperwork. Upon meeting with your doctor, you’ll discuss any concerns, expectations or questions you may have. We will then perform a physical examination and most likely take a few X-rays to better understand your current chiropractic state. Afterwards, we’ll take a look at the overall results of our conversation and the X-rays, prior to developing a plan of action—which will only begin when you are completely satisfied and prepared to move forward with the plan.
A Look Back at Chiropractic History
Believe it or not, but chiropractic actually dates back to the time of Hippocrates, who believed that a misaligned spine greatly contributed to negative health.
Modern-day chiropractic dates back to 1895, when Dr. Daniel Palmer adjusted a man’s misaligned vertebrae. In addition to injuring his vertebrae, the man had also lost his hearing 17 years prior; before that happened, he had heard something pop in his back. Shortly after adjusting his misaligned vertebrae, the man’s hearing greatly improved.
Some folks within the medical community criticized this new technique for healing the body. However, others viewed it as an amazing new way to deal with illness and disease. In fact, Dr. Palmer’s theories are still discussed in the chiropractic industry to this day. Without his input, the millions of patients may have never had an opportunity to restore their health and, ultimately, their lives.
How Chiropractic Works
To remove structural and postural imbalances—the key principle of chiropractic—and allow the body to heal itself, the network of nerves and signals from the brain to the spinal cord (and then to the network of nerves), must be allowed to flow freely without any interruption. With this in mind, only chiropractors have the ability and skill to remove these interruptions or misalignments and allow the body to perform as it was meant to.
If you’ve ever been in a car accident, played a sport or fallen, it’s very possible you aren’t functioning at your best due to a misalignment. While there are many potential mechanical or structural causes for misalignment, there are also chemical reasons. For example, if you smoke or drink excessively or have a poor diet, the chemical issues in your body can eventually lead to underlying conditions and diseases.
By allowing a chiropractor to help you get you back on track (both chemically and structurally), your body will return to the proper state it should be so that it can perform to the best of its abilities.
Whenever vertebrae become misaligned or move out of their normal positions, a subluxation occurs. They’re often caused by a wide range of issues, including minor slips and bumps, car accidents and sudden trauma. When vertebrae are subluxated, they begin to put pressure on nerves, blood vessels and everything that surrounds them. This pressure comes with a price too, as subluxation interrupts the natural pathways that messages sent from the brain need to remain clear, so they can be completed properly.
If subluxation is not treated, the spine, along with its surrounding features (such as discs), will begin to degenerate. This degeneration is more difficult to reverse as time passes too, as the surrounding muscles, nerves and bones begin to adjust to a new shape. After all, the body is an amazing machine which will begin to accommodate these changes by compensating in other areas. The longer this occurs, the longer it takes (and more difficult it is) to get back to a near perfect position.
Spinal Degeneration Phases
Degeneration Phase 1
During the first stage of spinal degeneration, a minor loss of normal spine balance and spinal curvature will be noticed. The surrounding features of the spine, including nerves, discs and joints, begin to age quicker and become more stressed. Fortunately, this stage of the degeneration process is rarely accompanied with major pain. At this point, with proper care, patients’ spines can likely return to normal in due time.
Degeneration Phase 2
The second stage of spinal degeneration often involves a narrowing of discs, along with potential deformation in bones. Patients’ posture will usually begin to degenerate as well. As the spinal canal or opening begins to narrow, significant aches and pains, fatigue and stress will often be associated with the narrowing. Fortunately, with proper care, improvement is still likely at this stage of degeneration.
Degeneration Phase 3
In the third stage of spinal degeneration, significant physical and mental involvement occurs, primarily due to a wide array of issues that are potentially involved. Nerve damage, along with deformation of bones and discs, is highly likely. Although some reversal is possible, a significant loss of energy and height will probably still occur.
Degeneration Phase 4
During the fourth stage of spinal degeneration, most damage is permanent, from scar tissue to nerve damage and deformation. At this point, the condition is irreversible, so the management of pain and discomfort is the best option available.
The following simple movements or daily routines can hurt you if you’re not careful. To avoid future pain, do these simple activities as advised below:
Standing The importance of posture can’t be overstressed. You must keep your chin up and avoid slouching. If you must stand for a long time, make sure you wear comfortable shoes.
Working at a Desk
The type of chair you have is vital. It must fit you correctly so that your back touches it and your feet are on the floor with your knees at a 90 degree angle. In addition, your computer screen should be at eye level so that you avoid looking down at it. And finally, you must try to stand up every 20 minutes to stretch.
A supportive chair is also necessary. But it won’t be helpful if you don’t sit with your back against the chair and have your feet firmly on the floor. You should also avoid crossing your legs at all times.
Far too often, people injure themselves by lifting objects. Even light objects can cause harm—if you twist or pull in the wrong direction, especially when you’re not stretched out, you can damage your muscles and spine. To further avoid injury, always bend at your knees and avoid lifting anything that’s obviously too heavy.
Overall Physical Activity
Prior to working out or playing, you should adequately stretch and warm up. Even if your form of exercise is considered “light” (like gardening or just pushing your child on a bike), you can easily pull a muscle if you’re not warmed up.
Talking on the Telephone
If you must use a telephone for a long period of time, you should purchase a speaker or a headset. In addition, avoid cradling the phone between your neck and your shoulder, which often leads to muscle or vertebrae damage.
Resting or Sleeping
Far too often, people strain their necks or backs while they’re sleeping. After all, people usually sleep in strange positions that don’t offer proper neck and back support. If you intend to nap or watch television in bed, make sure you’re always in a supportive position.