What is Chiropractic?
Chiropractic focuses on the relationship between the body’s main structures – the skeleton, the muscles and the nerves – and the patient’s health. Chiropractors believe that health can be improved and preserved by making adjustments to these structures, particularly to the spinal column. They do not prescribe drugs or perform surgical procedures, although they do refer patients for these services if they are medically indicated.
The Goal of Chiropractic
Chiropractic treatment is mainly applied to the spinal column so it is widely thought that chiropractors treat only back and neck ailments. This is not so. The practice of chiropractic focuses on the relationship between structure (primarily the spine and pelvis) and function (as coordinated by the nervous system) and how that relationship affects the preservation and restoration of health. The skull and spinal column protect the delicate tissues of the nervous system. If nerve impulses are impaired – as may occur as a result of spinal dysfunction – alteration of organ function throughout the body may result. An example of this may be the radiating pain of sciatica (pain that goes down the leg) that results from a lower back injury. The goal of Chiropractic treatment is to remove spinal dysfunction and so to restore and optimise the patient’s health.
How Chiropractic Works
The nervous system is the chief controller of all living cells, tissues and organs. The function of organs is dependant on a healthy nervous system providing them with impulses from the brain. The spinal cord and nerve roots are protected by the spinal column. Biomechanical and structural problems in the spinal column may result in irritation or injury to the enclosed parts of the nervous system, either through direct mechanical pressure or from noxious inflammatory biochemicals that are released in the body after an injury. The functioning of the nervous system is negatively influenced as is the functioning of the cells, tissues and organs which are supplied by the affected nerve. As the body’s ability to heal itself can be negatively affected by damage to the nervous system, removal of such irritants can lead to a number of favourable results in patients suffering from various, seemingly non-spinal health conditions.
What Chiropractors Do
Practically speaking, chiropractors are primarily concerned with locating and treating vertebral misalignments, sometimes called subluxations. A vertebral subluxation is a complex of functional and/or structural and/or pathological articular (joint) changes that compromise the effectiveness of the nervous system and the overall health of the person as a whole. The chiropractor checks the patient’s spine for misalignments, fixations or other abnormalities. If subluxations or other abnormalities are detected, the chiropractor will generally apply a gentle force in a corrective manner to the affected spinal area.
Chiropractors use various different techniques to identify and treat these spinal abnormalities and optimise overall health. In addition to spinal adjustive techniques, soft tissue techniques such as massage, dietary and nutritional counselling, physical therapies, and lifestyle modification programs are commonly employed.
How Chiropractic Differs
There is a very important difference between the way chiropractors and medical doctors approach health ailments.
When evaluating and treating patients, chiropractors focus on identifying and correcting the cause(s) of the patient’s health ailment. In contrast, the medical approach tends to emphasise the treating of the symptoms of a condition rather than focusing primarily on the actual cause(s).
It is one of the foremost chiropractic philosophies that correcting the cause of the problem will provide significant long-term benefits over only treating the symptoms.
The Benefits of Chiropractic
Short-term and regular chiropractic care have a number of benefits including:
- Relief from spinal and extremity pain
- Relief from headaches
- Increased mobility and joint range of motion
- Decreased stiffness and muscular spasms
- Relief from arthritic joint pain
- Improved performance and energy
- Better balance and coordination
- Reduced degeneration and risk of injury
- Decreased tissue inflammation