What is Chiropractic?
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 and disease.
The understanding of the subluxation complex progresses from misalignment of vertebrae and other articulating structures to include additional anatomical, physiological, biomechanical, chemical and biopsychosocial factors. Moreover, the science of chiropractic emphasizes the relationship between structure and function, primarily that between the spinal column and the nervous system. Inherent within this statement is the significance of the nervous system to health and the effect of the subluxation complex upon the nervous system and, therefore, the body.
Misalignment (Subluxation) of your spine and poor health
No part of your body escapes the dominance of your nervous system. Improper function of the spine due to slight misalignments—called subluxations—can cause poor health or function, even in areas far removed from the spine and spinal cord itself. Misalignments 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 an adjustment?
A chiropractic spinal adjustment is the application of a precise force to a specific part of the spinal segment to correct the misalignment, permitting normal nerve transmission and assisting your body to recuperate on its own. The chiropractic adjustment restores joint mobility by manually applying a controlled force into joints that have become hypomobile (fixated) – or restricted in their movement – as a result of a soft tissue injury. Soft tissue injury may be caused by a single traumatic event (improper heavy lifting), or through repetitive stresses (sitting in an awkward position with poor spinal posture for an extended period of time). What occurs in the injured tissues are physical and chemical changes that can cause inflammation, pain / discomfort, and diminished function.
Chiropractic adjustment or manipulation of the affected joint and associated soft tissues, restores mobility, alleviating pain and muscle tension, allowing tissues to heal. Chiropractic adjustment rarely causes discomfort. However, patients may sometimes experience mild soreness or aching following treatment (as with some forms of exercise) that usually resolves within 12 to 48 hours.
What is Chiropractic Maintenance?
Who is a potential Maintenance Care patient?
The acute or ‘first episode’ patient, a patient having a past history of chronicity and / or extended courses of treatment, and the pediatric patient. Additionally, patients complaining of ‘muscular’ trouble 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 of the 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 central nervous system composed of the brain, spinal cord, and spinal nerve roots controls and coordinates all other body systems through communication with individual cells, tissues, organs and organ systems via the peripheral nervous system. Chemical messages are transmitted to and received from body through the spinal cord which is housed and protected by the 24 bony vertebrae of the spinal column, sacrum, and coccyx. When a spinal misalignment (subluxation) is present there is interference with the brain’s ability to communicate, transmit and / or receive these chemical messages. The chiropractic adjustment is intended to remove this interference.
Taking care of your spine through regular chiropractic adjustments 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 we have removed the primary barriers to care: inconvenience and monetary expense. Make the healthy choice regularly and consistently.
Can a chiropractor help with migraines and headaches?
Headaches & Chiropractic
Nine out of ten 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 / spinal manipulation – the primary form of care provided by doctors of chiropractic – 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.). About 5 percent of all headaches are warning signals caused by physical problems.
Ninety-five percent of headaches are primary headaches, such as tension, migraine, or cluster headaches. These types of headaches are not caused by disease. The headache itself is the primary concern.
The majority of primary headaches are associated with cervical (neck) muscle tension. The American 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.
Doctors of chiropractic undergo extensive training to assist their patients in many ways – not just back pain. 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 – for example, how long you have had the problem, how serious your condition might be, 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 needed. 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 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 solely responsible for the quality of our health and well-being. At this office it is our responsibility to recommend the necessary treatment for your condition. Once the initial inflammation and muscle spasm have been reduced and we alleviate your discomfort, treatment is focused on supporting the recovering tissue to allow for proper healing and to restore pre-injury function. 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 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, and 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.
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) 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 favorably 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, with a variety of health conditions. DCs are especially well 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, since 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 locomotors 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. In addition, doctors of chiropractic comply with the laws and regulations governing chiropractic practice in the applicable jurisdiction, including documentation, coding and billing practices.
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 (subluxated), an untrained friend would not know how to properly correct this and could actually move the vertebra further from its normal position. This contributes to increased joint damage leading to early osteoarthritis, altered joint function, and disease in the body.
Educational requirements for doctors of chiropractic are among the most stringent of any of the health care professions.
The typical chiropractor has already acquired nearly four years of pre-medical undergraduate college education, including courses in biology, inorganic and organic chemistry, physics, psychology and related lab work. Once accepted into an accredited chiropractic college, the requirements become even more demanding — four to five academic years of professional study are the standard. Because of the hands-on nature of chiropractic, and the intricate adjusting techniques, a significant portion of time is spent in clinical training.
Doctors of chiropractic are licensed to practice in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and in many nations around the world and undergo a rigorous education in the healing sciences, similar to that of medical doctors. In some areas, such as anatomy, physiology, and rehabilitation, they receive more intensive education than most medical doctors or physical therapists.
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. Typically, as part of their professional training, they must complete a minimum of a one-year clinical-based program dealing with actual patient care. In total, the curriculum includes a minimum of 4,200 hours of classroom, laboratory and clinical experience. The course of study is approved by an accrediting agency, which is fully recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. This has been the case for more than 25 years.
Before they are allowed to practice, doctors of chiropractic must pass national board examinations and become state- licensed. Chiropractic colleges also offer post-graduate continuing education programs in specialty fields ranging from sports injuries and occupational health to orthopedics and neurology. These programs allow chiropractors to specialize in a healthcare discipline or meet state re-licensure requirements.
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.