What is Chiropractic?
Natural health care without drugs or surgery
Two Greek words (cheiros) “hand” and (praktos) “done by” are put together to create Chiropractic, meaning “done by hand”. Chiropractic is the primary care profession for spinal health and well-being, focusing on disorders of the neuromusculoskeletal system, and the effects of these disorders on overall health. Chiropractic is a natural form of health care that utilizes chiropractic spinal adjustment to correct spinal misalignment (subluxation) and restore proper function to the nervous system, facilitating your body’s ability to heal naturally. Chiropractic doesn’t use drugs or surgery. Rather, a chiropractic spinal adjustment—the application of a precise force to a specific part of the spinal segment—corrects the spinal misalignment (subluxation), permitting normal nerve transmission and assisting your body to recuperate on its own.
Chiropractic is a philosophy, science and art. The philosophy of chiropractic is built upon the constructs of vitalism, holism, conservatism, naturalism and rationalism. It provides context for the application of science and art. Health is a state of optimal physical, emotional and social well-being. Central to the philosophy of chiropractic is the principle that life is intelligent. This innate intelligence strives to maintain a natural state of (homeostasis) health through its innate / inborn intelligence and adaptation mechanisms. The nervous system is recognized as an avenue for these self-regulating processes. Interference with neurological function can impede these mechanisms, disrupt homeostatic balance, and adversely impact health. Chiropractic postulates that subluxation of the spinal column and other articulations can affect nervous system function and the expression of health, which may result in symptoms, infirmity, dis-ease, and disease.
Misalignment (Subluxation) of your spine and poor health
No part of your body escapes the control of your nervous system. Improper function of the spine due to slight misalignments (subluxations) can cause poor health or function, even in areas far removed from the spine and spinal cord itself. Misalignments (subluxations) can also reduce the ability of your body to adapt to its ever-changing environment. Even the slightest malfunction of
your spine may alter the regular transmission of nerve impulses, preventing that portion of your body from responding optimally.
What is Chiropractic Maintenance?
Chiropractic maintenance care is a preventative practice. Specifically, the provider (chiropractor) aims to stop symptoms or curb recurrence of symptoms attainable by combining treatments, such as chiropractic adjustments / manipulation and other manual interventions with patient education regarding ergonomic hygiene, exercise and healthy living (proper diet, water intake, and sleep.
Associated with this is the ‘lifelong chiropractic for all’ ideal of maintaining a certain level of attained function for the patient. The goal is to correct the initial problem and then attend to it regularly afterwards to sustaining proper function. The body is built to heal itself provided it is given proper nutrition, sleep, exercise, and clean air and water. The body can maintain its state of homeostasis if we make certain that the nervous system is functioning optimally.
Who is a potential Maintenance Care patient?
The acute or ‘first episode’ patient, (children to elderly), having a past history of chronicity and / or extended courses of treatment, and the pediatric patient. Additionally, patients complaining of ‘muscular’ distress and / or tension, individuals having occupations where taxing physical labor forms a predictable part of the working day, and patients having biomechanical / structural variants (e.g. scoliosis).
Everyone’s (patient and doctor) goal should be to do the best possible for yourself (the patient) and get in as good a shape as possible. Chiropractors and chiropractic adjustments can help you to do so. Our mission at the Joint is to help improve your quality of life through affordable and convenient chiropractic care.
Once I get an adjustment, will I always need to be adjusted?
Chiropractic is a health conscious decision. The chiropractic adjustment is used to relieve stress and interference to the nervous system. Interference with neurological function can impede the proper function of one or more body systems, disrupt homeostatic balance, and adversely impact health. The adjustment promotes peak nervous system function enhancing the function of other body
systems, allowing for optimal health and well-being.
The chiropractic adjustment is intended to remove this interference. Taking care of your spine through regular chiropractic adjustments / manipulation seeks to restore proper nervous system function, facilitating natural healing, enhancing patient performance and quality of life, while promoting patient empowerment leading to greater health and vitality.
Our model is designed to offer patients the option of making the healthy choice to live without nervous system interference because the primary barriers to care have been removed: inconvenience and monetary expense. Make the healthy choice regularly and consistently.
Can a chiropractor help with migraines and headaches?
Headaches & Chiropractic
Many Americans suffer from headaches ranging from occasional to frequent. Headaches may be dull, throbbing, sharp, pounding, and some cause debilitating pain, light and sound sensitivity, and nausea and / or vomiting.
Research confirms that chiropractic adjustment / manipulation may be an effective treatment option for tension headaches and headaches that originate in the neck.
A report released in 2001 by researchers at the Duke University Evidence-Based Practice Center in Durham, NC, found that spinal manipulation resulted in almost immediate improvement for those headaches that originate in the neck, and had significantly fewer side effects and longer-lasting relief of tension-type headache than a commonly prescribed medication.
Also, a 1995 study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found that spinal manipulative therapy is an effective treatment for tension headaches and that those who ceased chiropractic treatment after four weeks experienced a sustained therapeutic benefit in contrast with those patients who received a commonly prescribed medication.
Headaches have many causes, or “triggers.” These may include foods, environmental stimuli (noises, lights, stress, etc.) and / or behaviors (insomnia, excessive exercise, blood sugar changes, etc.).
The majority of primary headaches are associated with cervical (neck) muscle tension. Today our lifestyle consists of more sedentary activities than in years past. As a result more hours are spent in one fixed position or posture. This can increase joint irritation and muscle tension in the neck, upper back and scalp, causing headache.
What Can a Doctor of Chiropractic Do?
Your doctor of chiropractic may do one or more of the following if you suffer from a primary headache:
• Perform chiropractic adjustments or spinal manipulation to improve spinal function and alleviate the stress on your system.
• Provide nutritional advice, recommending a change in diet and perhaps the addition of B complex vitamins.
• Offer advice on posture, ergonomics (work postures), exercises and relaxation techniques. This advice should help to relieve the recurring joint irritation and tension in the muscles of the neck and upper back.
Chiropractors know tension in the spine and interference to the nervous system relates to problems in other parts of the body, and they can take steps to relieve, reduce, and / or eliminate those problems.
What Can You Do?
The American Chiropractic Association suggests the following:
• If you spend a large amount of time in one fixed position, such as in front of a computer, on a sewing machine, typing or reading, take a break and stretch every 30 minutes to one hour. The stretches should take your head and neck through a comfortable range of motion.
• Low-impact exercise may help relieve the pain associated with primary headaches. However, if you are prone to dull, throbbing headaches, avoid heavy exercise. Engage in such activities as walking and low-impact aerobics.
• Avoid teeth clenching. The upper teeth should never touch the lowers, except when swallowing. This results in stress at the temporomandibular joints (TMJ) – the two joints that connect your jaw to your skull – leading to TMJ irritation and a form of tension headaches.
• Drink at least (one-half your weight in ounces) or eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day to help avoid dehydration, which can lead to headaches.
When will I start feeling better?
Children typically respond very quickly, while adults generally take longer as a result of years of neglect. As with any healing process, every patient’s progress varies depending on personal lifestyle choices, proper nutrition, exercise, sleep patterns, and chiropractic treatment regularity.
How many adjustments does a typical person need?
The number of treatments required depends on many factors: how long you have had the problem, the seriousness of your condition, your age, and your overall level of health and fitness. Every person reacts differently to treatment so it is impossible to predict exactly how many treatments will be necessary. It generally takes a series of treatments for long-term changes to occur. Your chiropractor will be able to give a guide to the number of treatments required after your initial examination.
If I stop feeling pain, do I need to keep coming?
Yes! Just because your pain and or symptoms disappear, does not mean your injury or condition is healed. The extent to which you choose to benefit from your chiropractic care is ultimately your decision. We are each responsible for the quality of our health and well-being. Our responsibility is to recommend the necessary treatment for your condition. Once the initial inflammation and muscle spasm have been reduced and your discomfort is alleviated, treatment is focused on supporting the recovering tissue to allow for proper healing and to restore function to pre-injury status. Once the tissues are healed, the focus changes to strengthening the area to maintain the results for which you worked so hard to achieve. This is where the long-term, lasting benefits of chiropractic care are enjoyed. Regular exercise and healthy eating habits are a lifestyle decision and so is lifetime, wellness chiropractic care.
Many of the patients in our office have spinal degeneration (decay) which has taken years to develop. Slips, falls, accidents and countless other stresses over the course of your lifetime adversely affect the structural health and function of your spine. The longer you wait to have your spine checked by a chiropractor, the longer it will take to heal your injury and relieve, reduce, or eliminate your spinal restrictions. It has been our experience that those who stop care when they are “feeling fine” or are “out of pain” return with the same problems and injuries which initially brought them to our office – only it is typically worse. On the other hand, patients who commit to regular chiropractic treatment find their health problems rarely return and they enjoy an optimal quality of life, health, and overall well-being.
Do I need X-rays?
There are arguments both for and against the use of X-rays as a part of chiropractic health care. Many patients do not require X-rays; however, some chiropractors take them as a standard procedure, either as a defensive practice to rule out pathology (such as a possible tumor or fracture) and / or to aid in determining where to adjust the spine.
In most cases of non-traumatic musculoskeletal pain, an X-ray is not necessary. However, it may be reasonable to consider an x-ray after several weeks if there is an absence or plateau in symptom improvement.
Indications for X-rays in Chiropractic Health Care
As a general guideline, X-rays are recommended in the following cases:
• If the patient has sustained a significant traumatic injury, as a bone may be broken or a joint may be dislocated
• If an infection may be causing the patient’s pain
• If any significant disease is suspected, such as cancer or a possible tumor.
• If any type of joint disease is suspected, such as arthritis causing joint pain
• If the patient is over age 50 and has experienced any type of trauma (even a minor one)
• For most patients over 65 years of age
• Anyone who has been diagnosed with or who may be at risk for osteoporosis. The X-ray may be important to identify or rule out a possible vertebral fracture from osteoporosis.
• Any suspected spinal instability
• If the patient has had long-standing pain that has not responded to or resolved with previous health care treatment
As a general guideline, an X-ray is indicated if it is likely to inform the type of treatment recommended for the patient. In any of the above cases, an X-ray would likely provide critical information that will direct treatment protocols and / or referral options for the patient.
Contraindications for an X-ray
X-rays are not needed for most chiropractic patients. As a general rule an X-ray is not needed for chiropractic treatment of general musculoskeletal lower back pain in someone under age 65.
Specifically, an X-ray should not be performed for any of the following reasons:
• To identify problems with soft tissues (muscles, tendons, or ligaments) or within the spinal disc itself. X-rays are only effective in identifying pathology with bones and joints, not with soft tissues.
• Purely for exploratory purposes. Most practitioners will have a good idea of the cause of the patient’s pain before ordering the X-ray or other diagnostic test and will use the test to confirm their findings. Similarly, most chiropractors will have a good idea of the specific pathology they are trying to rule out with an X-ray.
• If there is a possibility that the patient could be pregnant.
How long have you been a chiropractor?
I graduated from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1989 after spending 4,820 hours in the classroom and clinical setting over the course of three years. While developing the skills and proficiency necessary to become a doctor of chiropractic I passed the difficult four part national board examinations and other challenging clinical testing in examination, diagnosis, chiropractic treatment, laboratory work, physical therapy, and radiology. In addition, after a demanding pledge period I was inducted into the brotherhood of the first professional chiropractic fraternity, Delta Sigma Chi (ΔΣΧ).
Is it bad if my body pops and cracks during the adjustment?
The sound that is commonly heard when receiving a chiropractic adjustment results from the release of the various gasses within the synovial fluid of the joint / s caused by joint cavitation. Every adjustment does not create the sound and is not a criterion for the effectiveness of an adjustment.
The objective is to change the position of the vertebrae by moving it in the correct direction thereby having an effect on the underlying tissues and nervous system. Chiropractic adjustment is not just joint popping; it is making a necessary change in the soft tissues, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and discs of your spine.
The adjustment also provides improved nutrient supply. The cartilage and other structures inside a joint have no blood supply. These structures receive their nutrients through motion.
What does chiropractic treat?
Chiropractic adjustments (a precise method of restoring proper movement of spinal segments) are extremely useful in correcting:
• Pain and stiffness in the neck, shoulders, back, arms, hands, chest, abdomen, hips, legs, feet.
• Certain types of headaches.
• Injuries and trauma to the body such as whiplash.
• Leg pain and nerve disorders.
• Sports injuries and most musculoskeletal injuries such as tennis elbow, strained muscles, and sprained joints and ligaments.
• Bursitis and Tendonitis (conditions involving inflammation of soft tissues).
• Repetitive strain disorders such as carpal tunnel.
• Fibromyalgia (chronic muscle pain and stiffness).
Chiropractic focuses on neurological and musculoskeletal integrity, and aims to positively impact health and well-being, relieve pain and infirmity, enhance performance, and improve quality of life without drugs or surgery.
Doctors of Chiropractic (DCs) care for patients of all ages (newborns to elderly), with a variety of health conditions. DCs are are known for their expertise in caring for patients with back pain, neck pain and headaches. They also care for patients with a wide range of injuries and disorders of the musculoskeletal system, involving the muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints. These painful conditions often involve or impact the nervous system, which can cause referred pain and dysfunction distant to the region of injury. The benefits of chiropractic care extend to general health issues as well. Our body structure dictates and affects our overall function. DCs also counsel patients on diet, nutrition, exercise, healthy habits, and occupational and lifestyle modification.
The Doctor of Chiropractic is a primary care provider for the prevention, diagnosis and conservative management of spine-related disorders and associated locomotor conditions. Serving the patient’s best interest in a professional and ethical manner the Doctor of Chiropractic employs experience and the best available evidence to make clinical decisions, deliver care, and manage identified health concerns and conditions.
The practice of chiropractic includes clinically necessary:
• Assessments of a patient’s health status, needs, concerns and conditions by obtaining a case-appropriate history and physical examination, and by acquiring necessary imaging, laboratory or diagnostic studies;
• Consideration of axial (spine) and appendicular (extremity) structure and function, including subluxation, and the status of contiguous muscular and neural systems by means of physical evaluation, imaging and/or special test procedures;
• Patient-centered management consistent with the obtained history, clinical information and diagnoses;
• Care coordination accomplished through goal-oriented management plans that include treatment recommendations intended to favorably influence outcomes, prognosis, risks, behaviors and lifestyle;
• Administration of manual therapeutic procedures – such as chiropractic adjustment, manipulation, mobilization or soft tissue techniques – as indicated by the history and clinical examination;
• Use of complementary measures, such as passive modalities, active exercise and rehabilitation, nutritional counseling and supplementation, bracing, strapping and orthoses, and other procedures allowed under respective chiropractic practice acts; and
• Promotion of health, wellness and disease prevention by evaluating relevant indicators and risk factors, and by providing care directed at mitigating health risks and encouraging healthy lifestyles
Do adjustments hurt?
For most patients, chiropractic adjustments are painless and rarely cause discomfort. Occasionally, patients who are new to the chiropractic adjustment may involuntarily stiffen or resist the adjustment and feel a small amount of discomfort until they are able to relax during treatment. Mild discomfort may be felt if the patient has had a recent trauma, such as whiplash, due to inflammation. However, many patients report feeling relief, calmness, improved mobility, and a sense of well-being after the adjustment. Some patients may experience mild soreness or aching following treatment (as with some forms of exercise) that generally resolves within 12 to 48 hours.
Can I get a friend to crack my back?
No! This is dangerous. Chiropractic adjustments need to be performed by a skilled professional. Without the knowledge of how to identify which vertebra is out of its normal position (subluxation), an untrained friend would not know how to properly correct this and could actually move the vertebra further from its normal position. This would contribute to increased joint damage leading to early osteoarthritis, altered joint function, and dis-ease in the body.
Educational requirements for doctors of chiropractic are among the most stringent of any of the health care professions. Because of the hands-on nature of chiropractic, and the intricate adjusting techniques, a significant portion of time is spent in clinical training.
Like other primary health care doctors, chiropractic students spend a significant portion of their curriculum studying clinical subjects related to evaluating and caring for patients. Before they are allowed to practice, doctors of chiropractic must pass national board examinations and become state- licensed.
This extensive education prepares doctors of chiropractic to diagnose health care problems, treat the problems within their scope of practice, and when appropriate refer patients to other health care practitioners.