Chiropractic care is a truly fascinating field and one we are very passionate about. Over the years we get asked the same type of questions about chiropractic and what chiropractors actually do, so we decided to write this article in order to help answer those questions and to clear any concerns you may have before coming into our office.
Although chiropractors approach health from many different philosophies and schools of thought, the goal here is to give you a general overview. If you still have any questions feel free to contact us here or by calling our office at (503) 774-4099.
Your health is our main concern and we hope it is yours too!
Chiropractic care can be very effective when treating specific conditions such as chronic back and neck pain. A 2011 survey conducted by Consumer Reports found that 65% of people who seek chiropractic help for back pain experienced “a lot” of relief of symptoms.
It can also be very effective when treating other conditions such as high blood pressure. Another study from the Journal of Human Hypertension published in 2007 found a direct correlation between vertebral alignment (specifically the Atlas vertebra in the neck) and a sustained lowering of blood pressure in patients suffering from the condition.
One of the reasons chiropractic care is so popular is that it is a safe, non-invasive and completely natural way of treating physical health conditions. This reduces the need for potentially damaging pharmaceutical treatments and/or major surgery.
Most people undergoing surgery for back pain don’t need it. In fact, researchers at Stanford University published a study that correlates a higher incidence of surgery for lower back pain in areas of the country with higher concentrations of MRI machines. Despite the fact that medical guidelines advice against surgery for a majority of patients since most tend to get better with physical therapy or adjustments such as those provided by chiropractors.
Chiropractors approach health from a holistic point of view that treats the patient and not the symptoms. As a result, when you go to your chiropractor you know you can expect care that is centered around you as a whole person, not your symptom or your condition. Chiropractors provide your body with what it needs to heal, without compromising any other areas or generating harmful side effects.
Chiropractic care can be easily integrated into your current healthcare plan. Most chiropractors will work closely with your physician, family doctor, nutritionist, or any healthcare practitioner in order to provide the best solution to your health needs. Even if you are already seeing a doctor for your current ailment, a chiropractor can be a worthwhile addition.
What Do Chiropractors Do?
Chiropractors are usually well-rounded in their training and approach to health. Therefore, your treatment plan will probably include any combination of the following treatments:
This is the foundation of all chiropractic work, and even though you might undergo other treatments, you will receive spinal adjustments during all visits to the clinic. Like the name suggests, your chiropractor makes adjustments in your spine as needed in order to achieve optimum vertebral alignments, and as a result help counter the negative effects of your specific condition. We go more in depth with the specifics of spinal adjustment in the last section.
Deep Tissue Massage
Some chiropractors only provide spinal adjustments, and although that does provide patients with relief from most symptoms, others opt to offer alternative therapies such as deep tissue massage. Deep tissue massage can be very effective in reducing muscle tension, pain, and getting rid of muscle knots.
Physical activity is a big part of any chiropractic care plan. Your chiropractor will devise an exercise plan for you to help improve your specific condition, to keep it from worsening, and to prevent future reoccurrences. Exercises typically consist of stretches, strength training, and walking although other more complex exercises might also be included.
Any holistic approach to health wouldn’t be complete without some sort of nutritional guidance. You really are what you eat, and although your chiropractor can help alleviate many conditions through the use of physical therapies, if you don’t follow a balanced diet your therapeutic outcome might not be optimal. Your chiropractor will help develop a nutritional plan that might include herbal remedies as well as vitamins and nutritional supplements. Many of the nutritional supplements, herbs and homeopathic formulas can be found at:
Other treatments chiropractors sometimes use as part of their overall wellness plan may include things like stress reduction techniques, neck manipulation, cryotherapy (ice pack and cold ointment therapy), cold laser therapy, postural advice, traction, extremity adjustments, and trigger point therapy.
The Basics of Spinal Adjustments
Once you are done with your first appointment, your chiropractor will create a treatment plan tailored just for you and your specific condition. At the foundation of this treatment is a process called spinal adjustments. The severity of your condition as well as your body’s overall response to the therapy will determine how frequently you will need these sessions.
The Goal Of Spinal Adjustments
When performing spinal adjustment, a chiropractor’s goal is to align the vertebrae of the spine back to their optimal position. The vertebrae should sit on your spine uniformly on top of one another with plenty of space between the discs in order for the nerves to function properly. Things like bad posture, accidents, pulled muscles, or birth defects can all cause the vertebrae to shift, and as a result cause many health problems. Your chiropractor manipulates the spine to correct these issues.
Different chiropractors use different techniques or approaches when performing spinal adjustments, however the underlying factor of all adjustments is that they involve the manual application of pressure to areas of the spine in order to budge the vertebrae out of a wrong position into their optimal one. Some chiropractors perform adjustments with the aid of a chiropractic table.
How Spinal Adjustments Alleviate Symptoms
A misaligned vertebra puts pressure on the discs and surrounding nerves causing swelling of the surrounding tissue, which could lead to herniated and bulging discs. The nerves on your spine are responsible for communicating with the rest of the body and the nervous system, however their functioning can be severely affected by this pressure.When the vertebrae are aligned properly and there is enough space in between the discs, the nerves are free to communicate effectively with the rest of the nervous system. A damage nerve will send a distress signal, or pain signal, whereas a healthy nerve sends healing signals to the body. As a result, having a properly aligned spine can work wonders on a multitude of health conditions.
What To Expect From A Spinal Adjustment
It is common to experience some achiness or discomfort after the first adjustment. This is to be expected since the body is a “creature of habit” and it will try to position itself back into its previous undesirable position.Ultimately the body is the one responsible for aligning itself (with the help of your chiropractor) so you may or may not experience immediate relief. Therefore, it may take more than one adjustment to experience long lasting effects. Eventually your body will learn its new place and become comfortable in it.