When trying to help people better understand what chiropractic really is, sometimes it is helpful to address the areas of confusion directly. Here are some things to keep in mind when deciding on which approach of healthcare to utilize. (The following information is paraphrased from an chiropractic advocate, Bill Esteb, who provides support to chiropractors.)
1. Chiropractic is different from medicine.
This may seem obvious, but they both have different intentions and different purposes. This is why chiropractic cannot be accurately placed in a medical paradigm. While we have the best crisis care through medical treatment, sometimes symptoms are viewed as the core problem in the medical model. As a result, the reduction of symptoms can become the goal of treatment. With the chiropractic approach, care focuses on correcting the underlying cause, which usually involves nerve interference. It’s this difference that has permitted chiropractic to be licensed as a separate and distinct healing art, coexisting beside medicine. Remember, there are times when utilizing BOTH approaches of healthcare is advisable.
2. Health, ease and well-being are normal.
Chiropractors believe that health and well-being are normal. If you’re not experiencing optimum health and well-being, something must be interfering with your body’s ability to express it. The first place we look is your nervous system.
3. Your nervous system controls everything.
Our nervous system, consisting of your brain, spinal cord and all your nerves, controls and regulates the function of every cell, tissue, organ and system of your body. If you’re experiencing health issues, it’s almost certain that your nervous system is involved in some way. (See previous blog for more details on the nervous system.)
4. Stress can overload your nervous system.
There are basically three types of stress that can affect your nervous system:
- Physical Stress: Caused by events such as slips, falls and car accidents.
- Chemical Stress: Resulting from substances such as drugs and alcohol.
- Emotional Stress: Including fear, anger, resentment, grief and other negative emotions.
5. These stresses can produce what chiropractors call "vertebral subluxation."
Vertebral means “of the spine.” Sub means less than. Lux is a unit of illuminance. Think of it as a reduction of the body’s ability to “shine.” In this instance "shine" means to operate at its highest level of energy. The moving bones of the spine are common culprits when the brain-to-body communications, carried by the spinal cord and nearby nerve roots that the bones are meant to protect, are compromised.
6. We will conduct a thorough examination.
If you decide to begin care with us, we’ll conduct a thorough examination to identify the precise location and severity of any vertebral subluxations that you may have. The days of someone dropping into the chiropractor’s office to “get their neck popped” are over. It is critical that care is taken to make sure that the problem is clearly identified, and an adequate schedule of care is determined, in order to achieve the desired results. Remember, chiropractic is not an expensive band-aid. We focus on putting out the fire, not just removing the batteries from the fire alarm.
7. The exam findings should be explained in plain language.
We work to explain what our examination uncovers and what it all means. We’ll explain what we can do to help put this behind you and, even more importantly, what you can do to help produce the best results in the shortest amount of time.
8. A series of adjustments will be necessary.
Usually, a series of chiropractic adjustments will be recommended. Each visit builds upon the ones before, creating the momentum necessary for healing and healthier spinal patterns. Obviously, missing visits will impair recovery.
9. Adjustments do not treat your symptoms.
This surprises new patients the most. The adjustments do not treat your symptoms. Instead, chiropractic adjustments are precisely implemented to reduce the neurological interference of vertebral subluxation. Thankfully, as spinal bones assume a more normal position and nervous system function returns, your body will no longer need to attract your attention with aches and pains or other symptoms.
10. Consistent visits help retrain your spine.
Consistency is essential in order to make lasting spinal changes. Your chiropractic care plan will be designed to produce the best results, in the shortest amount of time. If visits are too close together, your body may still be processing the previous adjustment. If too far apart, or if visits are missed, you’ll lose the momentum needed to retrain and strengthen supporting muscles and ligaments.
11. You control the speed of your recovery.
This often surprises new patients as well. You control the speed of your recovery, not the chiropractor. Healing is a process and all processes take time. Your response time actually reveals more about you, your overall health potential and what you’re willing to do to support your care between visits, than what we’ll be doing. As care progresses, most chiropractors will make lifestyle recommendations to help set you up for success.
12. Choose wellness care to avoid a relapse.
Finally, after getting well, many of our patients choose to stay well with some type of regular periodic adjustments. For some, it's once a week, for others, it’s once a month. It just depends upon your stress levels. Maintaining your spine is a lot like brushing and flossing your teeth.
I hope this information is helpful in better understanding what chiropractors do and our approach to helping our community improve their Quality of Life!