How To Tell If You Need A Chiropractor

back pain spinal cord

( — Chiropractic is a form of alternative medicine that originated at the end of the 19th century and involves the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of various musculoskeletal and related complaints. Although not always widely accepted as a legitimate form of medical treatment (and still criticized by many mainstream physicians to the present day), chiropractic is a widely utilized and popular form of treatment for many physical conditions.

Chiropractors undergo rigorous training at special schools of chiropractic medicine and are certified and licensed under individual state licensing boards. Chiropractors carry malpractice insurance and many health insurance plans now include chiropractic as a benefit for their insured customers.

How Does It Work?

When most people think of chiropractic, they think of the spine. Chiropractors work with the spine due to the fact that it houses the spinal cord, which, together with the brain, makes up the central nervous system. (CNS). From the spinal cord, hundreds and thousands of nerves travel to every portion of the body, creating an interconnected web of nerve fibers originating from the CNS.

Chiropractic is based on the notion that misaligned (or “subluxated”) vertebrae in the spinal column cause malfunctions in other parts of the body, leading to a variety of conditions that can be corrected through spinal manipulation. In fact, every important physiological function that occurs in the human body is somehow triggered or controlled by the central nervous system, thus chiropractors believe that spinal adjustments can have far-reaching effects on myriad organ systems and processes within the body.

What Do Chiropractors Treat?

Chiropractors are specially trained medical professionals best known for treating back and neck pain, but chiropractic has also been found to be helpful for leg and arm problems, whiplash, chronic headaches and migraines, arthritic changes, jaw problems, vertigo, digestive disorders, and scoliosis. Still, the majority of patients who seek chiropractic care do so related to back pain, neck pain, or pain in the limbs or joints.

What Does A Chiropractor Do?

Chiropractors are trained to perform a variety of assessments of the human body, including the testing of muscle strength, joint health, flexibility, nerve conduction, and other functions. On a first exam, patients can expect a doctor of chiropractic to request a complete and detailed health and medical history. The chiropractor will then perform a very thorough physical examination that may or may not include X-rays and other tests. A chiropractor may wish to be in contact with your primary care physician about the care that you are receiving (or perhaps your doctor will refer you to a chiropractor for specific treatment). Many doctors and chiropractors collaborate regarding patient care, deciding as a team on the course of evaluation and treatment.

A chiropractor will often prescribe exercises for a patient to perform at home as part of a regular regimen of self-care. Follow-up appointments can occur several times per week for acute injuries, and less often for maintenance care. Some chiropractors also prescribe herbal medicines and dietary supplements as a part of treatment.

What Does It Feel Like?

Although there are different forms of chiropractic, you can generally expect to lie (face up and/or face down) on a low table specially designed for chiropractic manipulation. Some doctors of chiropractic will employ massage, electrical stimulation, ultrasound or other techniques to loosen up muscles and relax your body prior to performing spinal manipulation. Some chiropractic tables swivel and change positions in order to facilitate stretching and relaxation of the muscles.

The sensation of having your neck, mid-spine, lower spine or hips adjusted has been compared to a “popping” sensation that can often bring instant relief to an otherwise tense or painful area of the body. There are theories as to what causes this sound when vertebrae are manipulated, but many patients find the sensation rather agreeable after acclimating to the procedure, especially when relief from symptoms is experienced.

Although many chiropractors will manually “crack” the spine and joints, a number of chiropractors now use hand-held devices (sometimes referred to as “activators”) that deliver a gentler touch but perform basically the same function as manual manipulation. A small percentage of chiropractors practice “network chiropractic” which is a form of chiropractic medicine that utilizes gentle touch rather than direct spinal manipulation.

Chiropractic: Is It For You?

Spinal health is seen by some as key to overall health and well-being. Since such an important part of the central nervous system is housed within the spinal column, proponents of chiropractic medicine feel that spinal manipulation can positively impact a variety of conditions and complaints. If you are uncertain if chiropractic could be helpful for you, consult your doctor or arrange an initial consultation with a local chiropractor recommended by a friend, loved one, doctor or other trusted individual. Millions of Americans seek chiropractic treatment every year, and perhaps you could also benefit from this form of alternative medicine that has gained a great deal of mainstream appeal and respectability in the 21st century.