It is estimated that about 27 million Americans visit a doctors of chiropractic each year, and millions more receive chiropractic care throughout the rest of the world. Chiropractic is the third largest primary health care field (after medicine and dentistry).
Chiropractic is a branch of the healing arts which is based upon the understanding that good health depends, in part, upon a normally functioning nervous system (especially the spine, and the nerves extending from the spine to all parts of the body).
"Chiropractic" comes from the Greek word Chiropraktikos, meaning "effective treatment by hand." Chiropractic stresses the idea that the cause of many disease processes begins with the body's inability to adapt to its environment.
It looks to address these diseases not by the use of drugs and chemicals, but by locating and adjusting a musculoskeletal area of the body which is functioning improperly.
The conditions which doctors of chiropractic address are as varied and as vast as the nervous system itself.
We use a standard procedure of examination to diagnose a patient's condition and arrive at a course of treatment. Chiropractors use the same time-honored methods of consultation, case history, physical examination, laboratory analysis and x-ray examination as any other doctor. In addition, they provide a careful chiropractic structural examination, paying particular attention to the spine.
The examination of the spine to evaluate structure and function is what makes chiropractic different from other health care procedures. Your spinal column is a series of movable bones which begin at the base of your skull and end in the center of your hips. Thirty-one pairs of spinal nerves extend down the spine from the brain and exit through a series of openings. The nerves leave the spine and form a complicated network which influences every living tissue in your body.
Accidents, falls, stress, tension, overexertion, and countless other factors can result in a displacements or derangements of the spinal column, causing irritation to spinal nerve roots. These irritations are often what cause malfunctions in the human body. Chiropractic teaches that reducing or eliminating this irritation to spinal nerves can cause your body to operate more efficiently and more comfortably.
We also places an emphasis on nutritional and exercise programs, wellness and lifestyle modifications for promoting physical and mental health. While chiropractors make no use of drugs or surgery, Doctors of chiropractic do refer patients for medical care when those interventions are indicated. In fact, chiropractors, medical doctors, physical therapists and other health care professionals now work as partners in occupational health, sports medicine, and a wide variety of other rehabilitation
The spinal column is an intricate framework of interlocking bones that, when viewed from the side, form a gentle "S" shape. The spine is a sophisticated system—both fragile and sturdy—of muscles, bones, joints, ligaments, discs, a spinal cord, and nerves.
Daily activities, such as lifting and exercise, or traumatic experiences, such as automobile accidents, can sometimes cause obvious, and at other times, subtle, problems with your spinal cord. The most common problem involves a misalignment of the small bones in your spinal cord.
We call these misalignments "subluxations." Often, these misalignments create pressure or irritation on the various nerves in your spine, and can cause a wide variety of symptoms throughout your body, such as localized pain, soreness, irregularity, and weakness. When pressure is applied on a nerve in your spine, the nerve energy is interrupted, and sometimes this can profoundly affect the function of other systems or organs in your body.
The vertebral subluxation complex is medical terminology for the ways chiropractors categorize the various locations, or "components," where subluxations are known to occur. The five components of the vertebral subluxation complex:
- Chemical component – Biochemical abnormalities can sometimes occur when one or more of the other vertebral subluxation components occur.
- Muscle component – Problems that occur when impinged nerves cause vertebral muscles to malfunction.
- Nerve component – "Neuropathology" is another term for this, which essentially refers to undue pressure on a spinal nerve.
- Osseous (bone) component – This occurs when one or more vertebrae are either not in correct position or moving improperly. Degeneration of the vertebral bones can cause this sometimes.
- Soft tissue component – When subluxations occur, they can affect the soft tissues, including ligaments and veins, surrounding your spinal cord.
Symptoms That May Indicate a Subluxation
If it weren't for our remarkable nervous system, we might never know about most serious problems or be able to correct them before they get worse.
You may benefit from chiropractic care and treatment if:
- You have developed any kind of pain in your joints or skeletal structures, such as your neck, back, shoulder blades, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, or ankles.
- You have developed problems walking, such as erratic movement, loss of rhythm or difficulty with your balance; this may be a sign of muscle weakness or other problem.
- You have developed sensory problems, such as numbness, tingling, burning, or localized pain. Nerves in your spinal cord branch off into sensory and motor nerves. A good example of this, and one that is common among people with back problems, is sciatica pain. Sciatica pain usually radiates down one leg or another. These types of sensory symptoms are not normal and may indicate a problem with the nerves in your spine. In some cases, these sensory problems radiate from one area to another.
- Your reflexes are diminished or absent. Reflex reactions are normal if you bump part of your body, such as a physician tapping your kneecap with an instrument. If no reflex reaction occurs in this instance, it could be a sign that you have incurred some kind of damage to your spinal cord, nerve root, peripheral nerve, or muscle.
Here are some common symptoms that may indicate a subluxation or other spinal-related disorder:
- Blurred vision
- Bowel or bladder problems
- Dizziness (also vertigo)
- Earaches or ringing in ears
- Leg cramps
- Muscle twitching
- Numbness and/or tingling
- Swallowing difficulty
- Walking or gait problems
- Weakness in your arms or legs
- Low back pain and/or stiffness
- Neck pain and/or stiffness
- Pain between the shoulder blades
- Pain in the arms, legs, feet, and hands
- Pain in the jaw or face
- Shoulder pain