One of the main causes of pain and disease in the human body can be traced to improper alignment of the vertebrae in your spinal column. This is called a subluxation. Through carefully applied pressure, massage, and manual manipulation of the vertebrae and joints, pressure and irritation on the nerves is relieved and joint mobility is restored, allowing your body to return to its natural state of balance, called homeostasis. Put another way, when the bones in your spine are allowed to go back to their proper positions, the nerve energy can resume its normal flow and your body’s natural healing processes can function properly.
In general, proper chiropractic treatment of your body’s lumbar, or lower back, region, involves very little risk and the rewards can be significant.
Chiropractic or osteopathic manipulations can be especially helpful in relieving pain for facet joint injuries, osteoarthritis, and sacroiliac joint dysfunction, because such conditions respond well to mobilization. Moreover, scores of patients with chronic headaches, sinus problems, high blood pressure, ear infections, leg pain, arthritis, and many other illnesses have reported significant relief after chiropractic therapy.
Increasingly over the past few decades, the medical community has come to accept and recognize chiropractic care as a valid form of treatment for a variety of neuro-musculoskeletal conditions, and as a conservative treatment option for patients with lower back pain. Moreover, many medical doctors recognize a chiropractic diagnosis and accept it as the first line of treatment for functional disorders of the entire musculoskeletal system.
Chiropractic adjustments have been shown to be a safe and effective alternative treatment for pain and injury.
Chiropractors perform 95 percent of all adjustments in the world to correct the subluxations, or misalignments, of the vertebrae in the spine. Chiropractic adjustments are performed by applying gentle, yet firm pressure to a bone. The goal of any adjustment is to restore the bone to its natural, or original, position. The important thing to remember is the act the adjustment frees—not forces—a vertebra to allow it to find its natural position. This is accomplished by the body’s innate intelligence.
Chiropractic adjustments are performed to treat a wide variety of conditions, including (but not limited to):
- Carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive strain disorders
- Chronic muscle pain and stiffness
- Most musculoskeletal and sports-related injuries
- Nerve disorders
- Pain and stiffness in the back, chest, abdomen, neck, hips and shoulders, as well as extremities, such as arms, legs, and feet
- Sciatica pain
- Whiplash and other traumatic injuries
Adjustments can be performed while sitting, standing, or lying down. Some adjustments involve special instruments or tables.
- Adjustments have been shown to:
- Increase blood flow
- Increase pain tolerance levels
- Increase range of motion
- Increase the body’s secretion of “good” chemicals, such as melatonin and endorphins
- Reduce blood pressure
- Reduce tension and muscle pressure
Eighty percent of Americans experience one form of back pain or another during the course of their lives. More men over the age of 45 are disabled by back pain than any other condition. It is the third most common reason for surgeries. Because of this, people complaining of back pain cannot be easily diagnosed. This is because the spine is such an incredibly complex structure of bones, muscles, nerves, joints, tendons, and ligaments. Injury or disease affecting any one or more of these structures can often trigger an episode of pain.
Lower back pain is often caused by a muscle strain. The erector spinae, or large paired muscles in the lower back that help keep your spine erect, can become inflamed and spasm. In more serious cases, the pain may be caused by a degenerative condition, such as arthritis, disc disease, or disc herniation.
A degenerative disc condition can sometimes cause a chain reaction of other events in your spine. When a disc is not in its proper place, or is malformed from disease or some other condition, it can allow additional undue pressure on other healthy structures, such as neighboring discs, nerves, muscles, joints, ligaments, and tendons.
Rest, ice or heat therapy, and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicine, such as aspirin, are often the first course of treatment for mild lower back pain. This allows your muscles to return to their normal position and begin to heal.
Because the thoracic spine is the sturdiest part of the spine, it is less prone to injury. That said, upper back pain, while less common than lower back pain, is often caused by irritation of the muscles or a problem with a joint. Other less common causes of upper back pain include herniated or degenerative discs.
However, rest for a sore back should be kept to no more than two weeks. Otherwise, the muscles in the lower back begin to atrophy and can become significantly weak, leaving you open to further undue pain and injury.
Our cervical spine connects your brain stem to your spinal cord. It is an area rich in blood vessels and other soft tissue, such as ligament and tendons. Neck pain is slightly less common than back pain, but no less important or treatable.
Common causes of neck pain include, but are not limited to:
- Cervical herniated disc.
- Cervical stenosis, which is caused by a herniated disc or degenerative joint, can cause pain to radiate down the arm, and lead to shooting pain and coordination problems in the arms and legs.
- Muscle strain degeneration of the facet joint cartilage.
- Osteoarthritis of weight-bearing joints, such as hips and knees.
A sprain of the muscles, ligaments, or tendons in the neck area usually causes acute neck pain. Vehicular accidents, repeated carrying of heavy items (such as luggage), or awkward sleeping positions are often the culprits. Most minor ligament or tendon injuries in the neck will subside with proper care, including rest, ice or heat application, and rehabilitation such as chiropractic care and physical therapy.
One common symptom of chronic neck pain is an ache that radiates down the arm, sometimes into the hands and fingers, accompanied by numbness or tingling. Foraminal stenosis, a condition caused by degenerative changes in the neck joints, involves a herniated disc or a pinched nerve. This in turn causes chronic neck pain.
Chronic headaches and migraines afflict many Americans. The severity of pain can go from mild and intermittent to episodes of debilitating throbbing, unrelenting agony, as well as nausea. Relief comes from a variety of means, including over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs, rest, and ice/heat packs on the forehead or neck. Sources of headaches include, but are not limited to, certain kinds of foods, sounds and excessive noise or bright lights, changes in blood sugar, and even too much exercise.
Some recent studies have shown that patients suffering from chronic headaches and migraines may benefit more from long-term chiropractic care than drug therapy alone. For headaches that originate in the cervical, or neck, area, chiropractic treatment, such as spinal manipulation, has been shown to be quite effective. A 2001 Duke University study, for example, found that spinal manipulation provided relief for patients with headaches that originate in the neck, and resulted in fewer side effects than medication. Researchers in that study concluded that such treatments as relaxation training, thermal biofeedback combined with relaxation training, electromyographic (EMG) biofeedback, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and to a lesser degree, acupuncture, are all modestly effective in treating migraine headaches.
Close to 15 percent of people who visit a chiropractor do so to seek relief for pain from chronic headaches or migraines, according to the American Chiropractic Association.
Whiplash is probably one of the most misunderstood and misaligned kinds of injuries; people involved in automobile accidents often suspect they have whiplash if they feel any kind of soreness in their neck. This is not to diminish the fact that whiplash is quite a common-and potentially serious-kind of injury incurred in automobile collisions.What is whiplash? Whiplash is an injury to the cervical spine, or neck, and occurs when the muscles and other soft tissues are hyperextended or hyperflexed.Most instances of whiplash occur during a front- or rear-end automobile collision. The force of the vehicle being struck or striking another object are quite powerful, and can cause the neck muscles, ligaments, and tendons to twist and turn with incredible, unnatural force. These tissues, which are stretched far beyond their natural limits, can become torn and in some cases, permanently damaged. In addition, vertebral discs in the cervical spine can bulge, tear, and rupture.Symptoms of whiplash may include one or more of the following:
- Blurred vision or dizziness
- Ear ringing
- General stiffness
- Headaches, especially behind the eyes
- Numbness, or burning, piercing and/or radiating pain in the neck, jaw, face, shoulders (and between the shoulder blades), and arms, which is usually a sign of a muscle or ligament tear
- Pain in any of the extremities
- Sharp pains when moving an extremity such as an arm or finger (a possible sign of disc damage)
- Swallowing difficulty
Many people who incur whiplash are treated with a device called a cervical collar, a soft cushion that envelopes the neck and keeps the weight of the head from applying undue pressure to damaged tissues during the healing process.
Nerves and Functions
Nerves do you know their job?