What is chiropractic care?
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General Information about Chiropractic Practices
Chiropractic health care is a branch of the healing arts that stems from the scientific fact that our nervous system controls or influences the function of every cell in our body. Interference to the nervous system, caused by the vertebral subluxation complex or joint restrictions within the spinal segment, will affect how the nervous system relates to the cells to which it travels.
The term “Chiropractic” comes from the Greek words “cheiro” and “praktikos”, meaning “done by hand”. The Chiropractic model of health is centered on the philosophy that the human body, being knit together in a wonderful way, will heal itself if given the right opportunity and circumstances.
Doctors of Chiropractic (DCs) promote the healing process by minimizing nerve interference and joint restrictions. Top Of Page
The purpose of the chiropractic approach to health care is to uncover the cause of your condition, not merely cover up your symptoms. The absence of symptoms (pain) does not equal good health! The clearest way to illustrate this is by reviewing the statistics on heart attacks. Research reveals that in approximately 33% of all heart attacks the first symptom of the attack is death.
Wellness care encompasses several aspects of overall health, which can be physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. Top Of Page
Most Americans are unaware that today’s doctors of chiropractic undergo an intense educational process that is similar to medical doctors during the first two years of schooling. Medical students and chiropractic students alike spend a tremendous amount of time studying anatomy, physiology, neurology, and other “basic sciences”. The main difference during the first two years is that medical students have a heavy emphasis on pharmacology (the study of prescription drugs) while the emphasis for chiropractic students is nutrition and natural alternatives to drugs.
The programs typically take a different turn after the first two years. Medical students prepare for their ‘trade’ by rotating each month to a different medical specialty such as pediatrics, orthopedics and family medicine.
The second two years of education for chiropractic students focuses on learning the tools of their own ‘trade'; manual and physical methods of treatment. This is learned through chiropractic manipulative therapy (CMT or “adjusting”), physiotherapy devices, such as electrical muscle stimulation and therapeutic ultrasound, and rehabilitative technologies.
Both doctors of medicine and chiropractic are very well trained to treat their respective patients utilizing the skills of their profession. Top Of Page
The most important question for your doctor to answer is whether or not you are a candidate for care in their office. Doctors of chiropractic try to completely understand your health condition. They will ask you questions related to how your condition started, what makes your symptoms better or worse, the severity of your symptoms, how long you have had them and other related aspects of your health condition. From the “story” of your complaint, the doctor will gain important insights. Top Of Page
A physical examination will follow your consultation. This may or may not lead to services such as X-ray, blood work, or other diagnostic testing. After ruling out conditions that require an immediate medical referral, your doctor will perform an evaluation of your neuromusculoskeletal system; a long word for nerves, muscles and bones. Top Of Page
Report of Findings
Upon completion of the physical examination, an assessment of your condition will be given to you in what is known as the “report of findings” (R.O.F.). During the R.O.F. your doctor will discuss your condition and treatment plan, including the duration and number of visits, as well as outline your financial responsibility. Top Of Page
This is a common question and a very important one. After an injury like a twisted ankle, pulled hamstring or lower back sprain, the inflammatory stage begins and lasts for 24-72 hours. During this time ice is preferred. Typically ice is applied for 10-20 minutes and then taken off for 10-20 minutes. This cycle is repeated as often as necessary. If you don’t have an ice pack, a bag of frozen peas or corn will do. P.R.I.C.E, a common acronym used after an injury, suggests patients Protect, Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate their injury.
Heat is typically applied to an injured muscle or joint after the inflammatory phase is over. Moist heat is preferred over dry heat because dry heat, such as from a heating pad, may dehydrate your muscles making them less flexible and predisposing them to further injury.
Moist heat application may last up to 20-30 minutes.
Ask your doctor which therapy is best for your injury or condition. Top Of Page
Most patients will ask this question sooner or later, and the answer is usually not what they expect. Every joint contains fluid that helps keep it healthy and lubricated, like oil for the joint. This ‘synovial fluid’ contains gas which is dissolved in the fluid, similar to the carbonation in soft drinks. The spine, being made up of many such joints, exhibits these same characteristics. When an adjustment is made you may hear a noise called an ‘audible release’. The audible release or ‘crack’ is simply the release of gas in the joint, much like when you open a can of soda. It is not, as many patients suspect, the sound of bones cracking or knocking into each other. Top Of Page
Quality and absorption are the keys to choosing an effective supplement. Supplements can be broken down into two basic categories: those taken for maintaining good health, such as multi-vitamin and multi-minerals, and those for specific health conditions, such as joint pain or high cholesterol. Ask your doctor to recommend those best suited for your specific health condition. Top Of Page
There are three phases of Chiropractic care – Relief, Correction, and Wellness. The goal of the relief phase is to eliminate pain. The number of visits necessary to accomplish this will depend on age, underlying spinal condition, length of time you have had your condition, and other lifestyle choices.
Restoring the body to normal or maximum function is the goal of the Correction phase. In most conditions pain is the last thing to show up and the first thing to leave when treating the vertebral subluxation complex. Adaptation that has taken place in muscles and other soft tissues, such as disc and ligaments, requires care beyond the relief phase to correct.
The purpose of the Wellness phase of care is to prevent relapses of previous conditions and to address new conditions before symptoms appear.
When maximum improvement have been achieved, your doctor will suggest an appropriate level of care necessary to maintain the corrections made during the first two phases. Top Of Page
The Manga Study:
This study researched both the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the chiropractic management of low-back pain. Dr. Pran Manga, the study’s author, found “on the evidence, particularly the most scientifically valid clinical studies, spinal manipulation applied by chiropractors is shown to be more effective than alternative treatment for LBP (Low-Back Pain). Many medical therapies are of questionable validity or are clearly inadequate”.
The Duke Study:
Based on a literature review of several headache treatment options, a panel of 19 multidisciplinary experts concluded that spinal manipulation resulted in almost immediate improvement for cervicogenic headaches. They also noted that there were significantly fewer side effects and longer-lasting relief of tension-type headaches with spinal manipulation. Researchers concluded the following:
“Manipulation appeared to result in immediate improvement in headache severity when used to treat episodes of cervicogenic headache when compared with an attention-placebo control. Furthermore, when compared to soft-tissue therapies (massage), a course of manipulation treatments resulted in sustained improvement in headache frequency and severity”.Top Of Page
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