Below you will find some of the most frequently asked questions about Chiropractic care.
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Chiropractic is a branch of the healing arts based upon the understanding that your good health depends, in part, upon a healthy nervous system. Your spine protects the spinal cord and nerve roots which extend from your brain down the spinal column through the movable bones of your spine and exit through a series of openings. The nerves then branch out and form a network of nerves throughout your body. Accidents, overexertion, even tension and stress (as well as numerous other reasons) can result in a "displacement" of the spinal column causing irritation to the spinal nerves. Doctors of Chiropractic call this displacement a Vertebral Subluxation. These subluxations are often the cause of problems in the human body. Chiropractic teaches that reducing or eliminating vertebral subluxations and restoring proper spinal biomechanics can allow your body to operate more efficiently and comfortably.
The goal of the chiropractic adjustment is to correct the spinal subluxations detected during the examination. Your chiropractor, in most cases, will use his or her hands in applying corrective pressure to the spine in a specific direction and location. The gentle manual force or thrust helps restore the alignment and mobility of the vertebrae.
No, it is not possible for discs to slip. The disc is a pad-like tissue located between two vertebrae which acts as shock absorber for the spine. The center of the disc is made of a fluid, soft, 'jelly-like' substance. When discs become damaged, tears can occur through which the soft center can leak out and push on the nerves. This is known as a ruptured or herniated disc and is extremely painful.
While results cannot be guaranteed, many patients have avoided needless surgery or a dependency on pain pills, by choosing chiropractic care for their disc-related health problems. In fact chiropractic adjustments are safer than back surgery, muscle relaxers, and even aspirin !
It is understandable to think that if something already hurts, moving the bones would cause more pain but the opposite is often the case. Most patients find the actual adjustment to be pleasant and offers welcome relief to the pain they've been experiencing when the function and integrity of the spine is returned to a more normal state.
It is helpful if you relax during the adjusting procedure. If the supporting muscles of the spine are tensed, repositioning of the vertebrae is more difficult.
The few patients that indicate discomfort often are referring to a residual soreness in the muscles supporting the spine in the area of the adjustment. Correcting old spinal conditions that a patient has "lived with" for quite a while may require allowing for the supporting muscles to reacquaint themselves to the proper position and allow them to once again to become accustomed to supporting the spine in a more normal fashion.
Chiropractic adjustments are designed to help restore a more normal motion and position of the spine. Unfortunately it is common for the spine to return to its abnormal position after being adjusted. This happens in part because the muscles that support the spine may have been damaged since the event causing the loss of normal motion or position happened. Muscles on one side of the spine can become overdeveloped while the other side weakens as your body tries to adapt to the abnormal position. This can also happen to patients whose jobs cause repetitive motion with one side of the body (like hammering nails, lifting and twisting in the same direction or propping the telephone between your ear and shoulder). Eventually these malfunctioning muscles lose their elasticity and muscle tone and impair its ability to properly support the spine. Since the spine is a movable flexible part of the body and you cannot stop using it, repeated spinal adjustments may be necessary. Patients are often given exercises or specific maneuvers to redevelop muscle groups which can help reduce the frequency of spinal adjustments.
While it is possible to make popping or cracking sounds by turning your head in a certain way or bending and twisting the body these are not chiropractic adjustments. The sound you're hearing is only the rush of gasses in the joint spaces. Chiropractic adjustments are specific procedures delivered to the areas of the spine that are not moving properly.
Even your Chiropractor must look to another Chiropractor for proper adjustments.
Our busy lifestyles continue to cause spinal problems. Improper lifting, long periods of sitting, emotional trauma and many other "normal" activities can interfere with proper spinal function. EARLY DETECTION CAN PREVENT PROBLEMS FROM BECOMING SERIOUS. "Feeling good" does not always mean "healthy". Pain or other obvious symptoms may not be present to indicate a spinal misalignment or subluxation. Yet, reduced ranges of motion, nervous system interferences and other problems may be occurring. Patients who wait for obvious symptoms, especially after an accident or those who have a history of spinal-related problems, often require more visits and take longer to show improvement.
Chiropractic is safe for all ages. Many childhood activities have a significant impact on the spine. Learning to walk or ride a bicycle, playing sports and even the birth process can cause spinal problems. Regular spinal check ups can help identify these problems and help avoid any more problems seen later in adults. As we age and reach the later years of life the spine can go through degenerative changes. The benefits of chiropractic care can also be seen as many patients have reported relief of arthritic symptoms and other chronic ailments often associated with the aging process. The adjusting techniques are modified depending on the age of the patient in order to give maximum comfort and results
As with any healing process everyone responds differently. Children usually respond quickly while adults often take longer because of years of neglect. How many times have you said "Maybe it will just go away"? Some patients find they start to feel better with one adjustment. Others discover progress may take a few visits. Your lifestyle, diet, exercise habits and regular chiropractic care all affect your progress.
No - Chiropractors do not include medication in their treatment program. Chiropractors maintain that the body has a built-in capacity to restore health within certain limits, and base their care on this principle. In some cases the use of medication can interfere with the body's healing mechanisms, produce side effects, create a dependence and lead to drug-caused disease or complications. Many times (such as with pain medications) medications can only mask or cover up the pain or symptoms of a problem making it difficult to discover the actual cause of the problem instead of correcting the problem itself.
The formal training to become a chiropractor is virtually the same as all health care professionals. They must have an undergraduate education in the basic sciences and an additional four years of post-graduate training at a recognized chiropractic college is required. Because chiropractors do not prescribe drugs or perform surgery the curriculum for chiropractic students has special emphasis on anatomy, physiology, x-ray and of course, spinal adjusting techniques. After successfully completing the course of study, and finishing an internship at the college clinic with actual patients, the student graduates with a doctoral degree in chiropractic.
National Board Examinations must be passed as well as State Board Examinations that must be passed for licensing purposes.
Each year, like other types of doctors, chiropractors must complete additional post-graduate continuing education classes for re-licensing.
These, combined with seminars, scientific symposia, and the extensive reading of professional journals keeps chiropractors in touch with the latest developments in their field.
(© T.J. McKay & Associates 2001 - All rights reserved. )
The scientific practice of chiropractic has been well documented as to not only the effectiveness but also the safety. It is safer than taking muscle relaxants or having back surgery. The New Zealand report printed in 1979 as a result of a New Zealand government inquiry reported that chiropractic care is "remarkably safe." The British Medical journal reported on January 23, 1999 on a research study for low back pain that chiropractic is one of the safest forms of treatment available. The profession is delivering millions of adjustments daily to satisfied patients all around the world. Chiropractic care is non invasive therefore the bodies response to it is more predictable than its reactions to drug treatments or surgical conditions. Chiropractic treatment should only be rendered by a professional with proper training and experience in spinal manipulation - which is a doctor of chiropractic.
Chiropractic is recognized as one of the safest types of health care in the world. Numerous studies, including those funded by governments, universities and nonprofit research institutions, have proven it to be a successful primary therapy for neuromusculoskeletal conditions -- a therapy that is safer, in fact, than most medical procedures used to treat the same conditions. Chiropractic is also widely used as a complementary mode of care for a variety of other conditions and diseases and to promote overall health and well-being.
Would you think twice about cradling the phone on your shoulder, checking your blind spot while backing into a parking space or getting your hair shampooed at a salon? The risk of stroke from chiropractic care is no greater than it is from any of these everyday activities.
The source of public concern in this regard is a condition known as vertebral artery syndrome (VAS), which occurs when sudden head movements disrupt the blood flow in the vertebral artery, possibly leading to stroke. As the above examples illustrate, the risk of this complication arising from upper cervical (or neck) manipulation by a chiropractor is extremely remote. According to the 1996 RAND report, "The Appropriateness of Manipulation and Mobilization of the Cervical Spine," only one out of every one million chiropractic patients experiences VAS. To put it another way, you are five times more likely to get hit by lightning than to suffer VAS at the hands of a chiropractor.
Up to 75% of chiropractic patients receive cervical manipulation as part of their individual chiropractic care. It may be performed as part of your care for total spinal health and wellness, or for specific causes such as muscle tension and stiffness, headache or injury. After a detailed history and examination, if there is any indication that you would be at risk, your chiropractor will not include a neck adjustment in your treatment.
In comparison to allopathic medicine, which uses drugs and surgery as an integral part of treatment, chiropractic presents far less risk. Consider, for example, that in the United States an estimated 140,000 people die each year from drug-related reactions. And the risk of death due to gastrointestinal complications from taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen is 400 times greater that the complication rate for people who receive cervical manipulation, while the mortality rate for people who undergo cervical spine surgery is 7,000 times higher.
Human error is another factor that tilts the safety balance in chiropractic's favor. In the United States, it is estimated that up to 98,000 Americans die yearly from medical errors -- a doctor accidentally making the wrong incision, a nurse administering the wrong medication, and so on.
A study in the October 2, 2001 issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal found only a 1-in-5.85-million risk that a chiropractic adjustment of the neck will result in vertebral artery dissection. In comparison, accident rates for some common medical procedures and everyday activities are listed below:
Risk Frequency Death per year from GI bleeding due to NSAID use for osteoarthritis and related conditions 400 in million Overall mortality rate for spinal surgery 700 in 1 million Death rate from cervical spine surgery 700 in 1 million
A study titled "The reality and acceptance of risk," published in JAMA in 1980, found an even greater "voluntary risk" of death per person per year from many common procedures and activities :
Risk of Death Per Person Per Year
|Soccer, football||1 in 25,500|
|Motorcycling||1 in 50|
|Taking contraceptive pills||1 in 5,000|
|Power boating||1 in 5,900|
|Skiing||1 in 430,000|
|Pregnancy (United Kingdom)||1 in 4,350|