Chiropractic care encompasses a wide modality of drug-free treatments that focus on the musculoskeletal system, the nervous system, and the relationship of these upon our general health.
A chiropractor doctor is highly educated and bound by the strictest of medical standards. A chiropractic education informs the chiropractor how to diminish tangible pain and discomfort in the musculoskeletal system, such as neck pain, low back pain, and chronic joint pain in our arms or legs. A chiropractic adjustment, also called spinal manipulation, often targets a particular area in the spine which realigns the body and may relieve pain throughout the entire body, not just the area adjusted. Spinal manipulation also improves our nervous system function and positively affects the overall health of our entire body.
Benefits of chiropractic care far exceed pain relief and posture improvement
Chiropractic care helps us live our lives in a happier, healthier manner by bringing our body back into alignment through improving the mobility of our joints. A chiropractor can help you feel at ease and comfort in your body by improving your overall health through targeted adjustments, and lifestyle protocols such as therapeutic and rehabilitative exercises, nutritional and dietary advice.
Stiff, tired, overused and malfunctioning joints create discomfort in everything we do:
- Imagine reaching up for that glass in the cupboard without any neck tension or shoulder pain.
- Imagine bending down to pick up something from the ground, and doing so with ease and flexibility.
- Imagine playing with your grandchild, and smiling afterwards!
You can live the kind of life that you want: it begins with self-care and proper medical guidance.
On a musculoskeletal level, chiropractic care rebalances the body by relaxing overused (tight) muscles and strengthening the contractibility of underused (weak) muscles. A chiropractic adjustment not only relieves pain, but decreases the tendency towards arthritis, a degenerative condition of the joints and connective tissues.
Regular chiropractic care also helps improve the inflammatory process associated with subluxation, aka significant structural displacement.
As the body comes back into alignment, our circulation system improves, which speeds up our recovery process, and so does the ease in which our nervous system is able to carry impulses throughout the body. Nerve impulses are electrical signals neurons use to communicate with one another to produce an action potential. When our nervous system communicates more efficiently, our organs function more effectively, creating a healthier, happier person.
In general, a person who is in better health experiences less stress and more joy. Someone in chronic pain and discomfort, or whose body struggles throughout daily necessary functions will be negatively affected. Quite simply, a better functioning system will calm your mind, increase your energy levels, give you better sleep and improved vitality, or essence of being.
Prenatal and Postnatal Chiropractic Care
Chiropractic care is essential during pregnancy. It will help improve prenatal discomfort due to the natural process in which the human body prepares for labor and birth through the hormone Relaxin, which prepares the body for birth by widening the pelvic center. Relaxin is so powerful that its normal function is to create up to a 10mm horizontal and 5 mm vertical spread in the pubic synthesis. After all, the human cervix dilates to 10 cm during labor – this process isn’t limited to just the cervix alone. The pubic synthesis also widens, which affects the entire spinal column and everything attached to it!
About six to eight weeks after the baby is born, or after lochia has ceased, it is important to visit your chiropractor to help the body regain its natural alignment. Alignment shifts radically during pregnancy. Without proper musculoskeletal care, the human body often experiences a long-term bodily misalignment. Ancient cultures knew this: women were instructed to wear a tight band around their hip and low back area, day-and-night, to help “close the bones” of the pelvis. Modern chiropractic care addresses this common issue with scientifically proven methods and techniques.
Doctor of Chiropractics (DC)
A Chiropractic Doctor (practices a hands-on, drug-free approach to health care through a process which begins with a patient consultation and proper diagnostic exam. Chiropractic is a health care profession that is oftentimes thought of as alternative medicine or holistic health care because DC’s forgo drugs and surgery in favor of manual therapy, spinal manipulation and other treatment techniques such as spinal decompression and percussor therapy. However, DC’s are not purely alternative. A DC often requires diagnostic imaging and laboratory testing alongside clinical treatments to create a treatment plan that specifically addresses your body’s aches, pains and discomforts. DC’s often work closely with other health care providers help bring your body back into vitality and alignment.
In the United States, a DC is regulated in much the same way as a doctor of medicine (MD): both are bound by ethical, moral and strict medical standards. After graduating from a four year university, a DC must graduate from a four year doctorate graduate school and pass a national board exam in order to obtain a license to practice. Once practicing, DC’s must maintain their license annually through continuing education (CE) credits through a state-approved CE program.
Spinal Manipulation post Injury
Spinal manipulation, or “chiropractic adjustment,” is the most common known form of therapeutic chiropractic care. Spinal adjustment creates alignment in the body where there once was imbalance, either due to hypermobile joints, or joints that are restricted, such as what happens after a tissue injury. A DC will apply manual controlled force which adjusts the joints and tissues back into alignment, restores mobility, alleviates muscle pain, tightness and soreness, and allows our tissues to heal quicker and more effectively. Tissue injury may be acute or due to chronic overuse. Acute injuries occur most frequently during sports or a single, traumatic event to the body, such as a sudden fall down the stairs. Repetitive stress injuries occur from chronic misuse or overuse of our body: repetitive motions, especially if done in a misaligned manner, will cause stress on the joints and tissues. Our body’s first reaction is often a slight inflammatory response, followed by soreness, pain, restricted mobility and diminished function. Left untreated, the condition becomes chronic and may lead to symptoms such as “frozen shoulder”, carpal tunnel and other forms of chronic pain. Working with a chiropractor early on may negate the “need” for surgical intervention and/or the use of and dependence on opioids for pain relief.
What Can I Expect at the Chiropractor’s Office?
Your first visit with a DC will consist of physical exam and postural screening diagnostic. You may be instructed to bring relevant imaging with you, such as X-ray’s, CT scans or MRI’s.
A competent and ethical DC will not immediately assume they can help you without a proper physical and diagnostic analysis. Sometimes, chiropractic care must first be preceded by other types of health care, in which case your DC will give you an appropriate referral. Most of the time, chiropractic care can be combined and co-managed with other health care professions, such as physical therapy. Your DC may give you advice on lifestyle modifications, therapeutic and rehabilitative exercise instruction and nutritional advice. Depending on the severity of your condition and your lifestyle, you may require regular chiropractic intervention or you may be treated within a few. For example, both a professional tennis player or a video production editor may benefit from a weekly or bi-weekly chiropractic adjustment. The tennis player most likely experiences joint pain in his elbows and shoulders as a result of repeatedly overusing one side. The video editor may be experiencing the exact same issues! Even though editing is not thought as physically demanding as tennis, both professionals are overusing one part of their body five days/week, 50 weeks a year and causing repetitive strain.
Personal success stories aside, literature is full of research and testimonials that back the efficacy of chiropractic care:
In a randomized controlled trial published in the British Medical Journal in 2003, 183 patients with neck pain were randomly allocated to manual therapy (spinal manipulation), physiotherapy (exercise), or general practitioner care (counseling, education and drugs.) Within the first 26 weeks, “the manual therapy group showed a faster improvement than the physiotherapy group and the general practitioner care group.” The study concluded with, “The cost effectiveness ratios and the cost utility ratios showed that manual therapy was less costly and more effective than physiotherapy or general practitioner care.”
Korthals-de Bos et al (2003), British Medical Journal
The American College of Physicians has repeatedly and consistently supported non surgical and nonpharmacologic treatments for acute and subacute low back pain:
“For patients with chronic low back pain, clinicians and patients should initially select nonpharmacologic treatment with exercise, multidisciplinary rehabilitation, acupuncture, mindfulness-based stress reduction (moderate-quality evidence), tai chi, yoga, motor control exercise, progressive relaxation, electromyography biofeedback, low-level laser therapy, operant therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, or spinal manipulation (low-quality evidence).”
American College of Physicians (2017)
The NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has funded many studies about the effectiveness of spinal manipulation to treat pain. In this 2012 study, the NIH targeted different approaches for treating acute and subacute neck pain:
“272 persons aged 18 to 65 years who had nonspecific neck pain for 2 to 12 weeks were divided into three groups: one group received spinal manipulation therapy from a doctor of chiropractic (DC): one group received pain medication (over the counter pain relievers, narcotics and muscle relaxants): and one group received exercise recommendations. After twelve weeks, spinal manipulation showed a clear significant and statistical advantage over pain medication. “The primary outcome was participant-rated pain, measured at 2, 4, 8, 12, 26, and 52 weeks after randomization.” Bronfort et al. (2012), Annals of Internal Medicine