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What is Chiropractic ?
Preventive health care involves many factors -- proper nutrition, sufficient rest, regular exercise, a positive mental attitude, good posture and more. One key ingredient is a healthy neuromuscular structure. Your spine plays an especially critical role. The spinal column houses the spinal cord, and from it nerves go out to all parts of the body. Chiropractic addresses itself to all the health care factors but gives special emphasis to care of the spine and the nervous system.
What is a Subluxation?
The term subluxation refers to a change in the position and/or motion of the spine and/or joints of the body, meaning that the spine or joints do not move in the normal way. When the spine is subluxated, the nerves in that area may behave abnormally. Nerves that send signals to the brain for muscle movement and pain sensation can be affected, changing what your brain perceives about the body and altering signals that the brain sends back. On the other hand, nerves that send signals to organs and tissues may be affected, with effects on those organs and tissues. The intent of a spinal adjustment is to restore normal motion, function and nerve impulse flow. Lets look at how subluxation leads to the four phases of spinal degeneration.
Vertebrae are smooth and healthy with no subluxations present. This allows equal spacing of the discs and proper curvature of the spine. The openings allow the nerves to flow without interference.
Subluxations and spinal degeneration usually begin with a vertebrae out of alignment. When a vertebrae is subluxated it can't move properly and causes undue stress to the surrounding discs and nerves. Some subluxations are minor and may not show up until years later.
Untreated subluxations can cause calcium deposits and bone spurs. The surfaces of the subluxated vertebrae become rough and uneven and can cause the discs to compress, lose fluid and lose their cushion. The nerves also become irritated and problems can become chronic.
The degenerative process accelerates and causes a loss of bone mass. The discs start to collapse, the fusion process begins. Symptoms and health problems may become more severe.
This is the final Stage of degeneration. Bones are fused together becoming permanently subluxated and joints are immobilized. Nerve damage and soft tissue damage become increasingly more severe.
Symptoms vs. Disease
So which came first, the chicken or the egg? When are you sick? Was it when you got the sniffles or started sneezing? What was the cause? Was it a virus, bacteria, or lack of some vitamin?
Disease is nothing more than an outside invasion by some type of contaminant or invader. It can be a virus, bacteria, pollen or chemicals. You've seen all those Hollywood movies about alien invasions. There are always two things that affect the outcome. The balance between these two determine which eventually presents itself. It's the strength of the invaders against the strength, weapons and determination of the defenders. Of course in the movies we always win! The battle for health in the human is not a Hollywood blockbuster, however, and the invaders often succeed in their invasion and take over, enforcing their will. In the human body the result is disease.
The defender of the human body against disease is the immune system. The invaders come from chemicals and substances in our environment both natural (like pollen) and unnatural (like asbestos) , as well as, bacteria and viruses. Since most these substances are always present and normally existing in our environment, they cannot be the cause of disease. If they were we would all be sick on a never ending basis. The cause of disease must then be the other component. The defender of the human body..........the immune system.
When the immune system is not functioning properly the body's defenses can be overwhelmed and this leads to disease. So the first stage of disease is the dysfunction of the immune system. This makes the body susceptible to disease. It's not the virus that makes you sick. You're first sick and then you get the virus.
The improper functioning of the immune system is what allows disease to overwhelm the body and its' defenses. Subluxations of the spinal vertebrae disrupt the flow of impulses that travel along nerves. This decreases the ability of the immune system to function properly. Subsequently, the bacteria and viruses can overcome the weakened defenses of the body. To compound this problem many people will further weaken the body's defenses by taking unnecessary medications.
Let's take the example of a common cold. The way it usually works is:
1. You begin getting symptoms like sneezing, coughing, or runny nose
2. You take aspirin or some cold medication
3. You eventually get better
A lot of the problem is with the perception of sickness. Symptoms like sneezing, coughing and nausea are actually the ways in which the body removes toxins. When you take a medication to stop the symptoms you are actually helping the invader stay in your body and multiply. The body knows the exact amount to raise the body temperature to kill off bacteria and viruses. This is what happens when you get a fever.
When you take something to lower the fever you are actually prolonging the sickness. Now your body has to fight the invader and the medication. Like soldiers your immune system learns from each battle and remembers. Next time it will be able to respond faster and stronger. By taking medication, the body doesn't get the "experience" of fighting the disease. This weakens it's response to the disease and to any following bouts.
Our bodies have an intelligence contained within them. The many systems of the body have been sharpened thru thousands and thousands of years of experience dealing with different foreign substances. Are you smarter than that? Do you have the knowledge to know what is best for the body after centuries of development? Think about it the next time you sneeze; are you sick or just functioning properly. Be glad that your body has the wisdom to expel that invader.
Whom do Chiropractors care for?
Chiropractors care for patients from a cross-section of society -- all ages and occupations. Although most of those cared for fall between 18 and 50 years of age, chiropractors have reported good success with both infants and the elderly as well. Skilled and unskilled laborers comprise the biggest percentage of occupations represented. Interestingly, the advent of computer terminals and other factors in the modern office has meant many musculoskeletal problems in the white collar workforce.
What Conditions do you treat?
The two conditions most commonly cared for by chiropractors are joint dysfunctions, which chiropractors refer to as "subluxations," and headaches. Some of the other conditions often seen are muscular strains or tears, degenerative joint disease, peripheral neuritis or neuralgia, tendonitis, high or low blood pressure, sprain or dislocation of joints, allergies, scoliosis and bursitis. Other conditions sometimes seen include osteoporosis, nutritional disorders, carpal or tarsal tunnel syndrome and TMJ syndrome, to name a few.
Is Chiropractic effective?
Evidence of effectiveness includes controlled scientific studies as well as clinical experience. With regard to the care of low back pain, the U.S. Agency for Health Care Policy and Research published a guideline in 1994 that recommended spinal adjustments. Other pro-chiropractic reports have appeared in Britain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and elsewhere.
Your health care team
You and your family will have various health care needs over the years, including dental and medical care, eye examinations and spinal care. Each aspect is addressed, perhaps with some regularity, by a respective health care professional -- your medical doctor, dentist, optometrist, chiropractor and so forth. In that regard, your chiropractor, like the other professionals, may refer you to another member of the team (or to still another specialist) if a health condition is outside his or her scope of expertise.