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Covering up Symptoms

As a chiropractor one of the challenges I have is helping people understand what really takes place when they get adjusted. Most of the time, people decide to go a chiropractor because of some pain or discomfort that they're experiencing. They hope the chiropractor can do something that at will make the pain go away immediately. Another way of looking at it is that a lot of people see the chiropractic visit as an aspirin or some sort of pain reliever.

When a true chiropractic adjustment is made, some very amazing things actually take place. Certainly, the vertebrae are used as a lever for adjustments, but the objective is not necessarily just trying to make a bone aligned correctly. What actually takes place is that the adjustment removes interference to the nervous systems (which we refer to as a subluxation) so the brain actually knows what's going on in the body and the body can communicate effectively to the brain as to what is going on.

There's been some very interesting research done by Dr. Heidi Haavik, who is a PhD neuroscientist as well as a chiropractor. For the past 20 years she's been doing research that reflects the way the brain and nervous system work in process information, in particular after a chiropractic adjustment. One of the effects of adjustment is increased neural plasticity of the brain. The brain has amazing ability to change and it's not age dependent. Research has shown that in some cases where a certain pathway has been compromised, a different neural pathway can be established resulting in the same function in the end. One of the examples given was what happens when someone loses their hearing. A lot of times their other senses will be heightened and in some cases the person's vision may change; their peripheral vision may increase to the point that they're actually able to see things that were once outside of their peripheral vision.

The reason all this is important is because the pain or symptom that may bring someone into a chiropractic office, is a sign. Something has gone wrong and now the body’s trying to get your attention. Think of it this way – if you have fire in your living room when you're in bed, the fire alarm will go off. So, you call 911, and the fire department shows up. The firefighters break down the front door, rush over to the fire alarm, rip it off the ceiling and smash it to bits to make it stop. Then the firefighters turn to you and say “have a great night”. That doesn't even make sense. The fire is what caused the alarm to go off; the alarm made you uncomfortable- it got your attention. As ludicrous as it sounds, this is what most people do with their health. When they have pain or discomfort, they try to address that by covering up the symptom. So your body's attempt to get your attention has been eliminated. We often ask people" do you think your pain is caused by a lack of aspirin in your blood?” The obvious answer is no. But because pain makes us so uncomfortable and prevents us from doing the things that we need to do, that's the main thing we're trying to address in most cases.

The next time your body tries to communicate with you, please listen to it..

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