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
Patients whose problems were not answered by surgery sometimes call upon chiropractors for help. It is unfortunate they did not consult with a chiropractor before surgery to determine whether their pain or other symptoms would be addressed without drugs or surgical intervention.
That said, as many as 40 percent of the 200, 000 people who have lower back surgery each year do not attain their desired outcome. Some of them are even in worse condition following surgery.
This condition is what's referred to as "failed back surgery syndrome," a general term for a host of problems that may be related to the surgery, but also other factors such as poor body mechanics, or medication problems.
People with failed back surgery syndrome often complain about unrelenting pain or physical impairment. Back injuries are cited as the most common reason for absenteeism in the general workforce after the common cold. It is estimated that about 80 percent of adults experience a back injury in their lifetime, and about 10 percent will suffer a re-injury.
Common types of back injuries include:
Overuse injuries - These are the kinds of injuries that occur during the course of everyday activities, such as housework or exercise. Symptoms may include pain, muscle spasms, and stiffness.
Acute or traumatic injuries - These injuries occur after an unexpected event, such as a fall, a sports injury, a job accident, or motor vehicle accident. If you think you have sustained a traumatic back injury, STAY CALM AND DO NOT MOVE until help arrives. It is very important to keep your back as immobile as possible following a traumatic injury as moving may worsen the injury .
Spinal fractures - These are one of the most serious kinds of back injuries. Many people survive spinal fractures and return to normal activities. Others who are less fortunate are left paralyzed.
If a fracture involves the spinal column but not the spinal cord, there is a good chance that long-term paralysis will be avoided. Fractures to any of the spine's components, such as the vertebrae, joints, or discs, could affect the spinal cord and its more than 60 nerve roots.
Some people incur compression factures to the vertebrae. In these kinds of injuries, the vertebrae can be crushed. Compression fractures are more common in the thoracic (middle) and cervical (neck) portions of the spine, since the lumbar vertebrae are the largest and sturdiest. Other kinds of injuries, such as twisting or impact injuries, can cause a fracture to vertebrae or joints.
You may have incurred a serious back injury if you have:
- Back pain that follows a severe injury, such as a motor vehicle accident.
- Been struck forcefully on top of the head or fall hard onto the buttocks.
- Fallen from a height of 15 feet or more.
- Incurred a direct blow to the spine with a moving object.
- Incurred a sports-related injury.
- Sustained a penetrating injury, such as a gunshot wound or stab wound.
If you sustain a back injury and experience any of the following symptoms, seek medical attention immediately:
- Loss of bowel or bladder control.
- Numbness or tingling in the buttocks, genital area, or legs.
- Pain in the upper back that occurs with chest pain that is crushing, squeezing, or feels like a heavy weight on the chest or that occurs with any other symptoms of a heart attack.
- Signs of shock.
- Weakness in the legs.
Most sprains and strain injuries to soft tissues, such as muscles, if treated properly with rest and ice/heat therapy, will diminish within two weeks. Many other kinds require expert medical attention. Consult with your physician about whether chiropractic care would help.