How Much Do You Know About Chiropractic
The healing art of chiropractic comes in a number of different varieties. It is important to know the differences so that you can choose a chiropractor that is right for you. No one type of chiropractor is any better or worse than another. The only time a chiropractor is not right is when your health goals and the chiropractor's practice focus are not a good match.
Click on any of the following headings to learn more about chiropractic. There are many principles of health that you will only find in chiropractic and that is why many people come to chiropractic, because they can't find what we offer anywhere else.
+ Your Amazing Nervous System
Your nervous system comprises your brain, spinal cord, and all the peripheral nerves that attach to your spinal cord and branch out to the various tissues and organs in your body. Do you realize that there isn't anything you do in life that doesn't involve your nervous system? Even reading this sentence is putting millions of neurons into action.
It is much more accurate to say that we live through our nervous system rather than to say we live with our nervous system. Our ability to see, hear, smell, touch and taste, are all possible because of specialized nerve receptors that convert the light, sound, odour, pressure, and chemicals into electrical signals that are sent to the brain so we can have the experience. Our experience is an interpretation of what all those electrical signals mean. This is how all of life is experienced, as an interpretation of electrical signals.
We understand that if the eyes are damaged, we won't be able to see. If the ears are damaged, we won't be able to hear. We need to understand that if the nerves that run these organs are damaged then we will also end up losing those functions.
The special senses are not the only functions that depend on a healthy nervous system. All internal organs are also relying on a nervous system that can carry information back and forth from brain to tissue and tissue to brain. Your heart function, lung function, stomach function, reproductive organ function... you name it and there are nerves responsible for keeping that system functioning normally.
We can best understand and experience the relationship between our nervous system and our function in life when we look at our muscles and joints. When there is proper communication flowing through the nerves our muscles will have an ideal tone and our joints will have a full range of motion. When the communication in the nerves is disrupted our muscles will become either tight, stiff and sore, or they will be weak, depending on the type of disruption. The joints will become stiff and sore, they will have a reduced range of motion, and eventually they will become arthritic and chronically painful.
We can apply this same assessment to all functions in the body. If the nerve supply to the heart is not functioning at 100% then there is no way the heart can function at 100%. If the nerves to the stomach and intestine have interference then there is no way the function of digestion can be optimal.
The nervous system is an amazing creation. There is no other system known that is more complex. Chiropractic was founded on the fact that the nervous system is the primary system in the body upon which all other systems rely.
It is certainly true that the failure of just one of the many systems in our body can cause our death. Chiropractic is not focused on death and disease. Chiropractic is focused on life and vitality. Your nervous system has the greatest impact on living. It keeps your heart beating so blood is circulated. It keeps your digestion working so nutrients are brought to your cells. It keeps your muscles and joints healthy so you can move through life with ease. As stated earlier, we live life through our nervous system.
The central nervous system, which is the most important part, is the only system in the body that is enclosed in a vault made of bone. The brain is protected by the skull and the spinal cord is protected by the bones of the spine. We only keep our most important possessions in a vault and the human body follows that same model.
Safeguarding our nervous system is an essential measure of a healthy life, and this is the purpose of chiropractic: to help people to live lives to the fullest by keeping the most important system in their body functioning at its highest level possible.
For many people, once they discover how much their life is improved with regular chiropractic care as part of their healthy lifestyle, they never want to live without it.
+ Subluxations: How Much Damage Do They Cause?
A simple definition of a chiropractic subluxation is an interference in the normal communication through the nervous system. This can be caused by a spinal bone being stuck out of place, moving in an abnormal direction, or not moving at all.
When the bone is stuck out of position it is like it is sitting on the nerve, choking it off. Kind of like when you sit for too long in the movie theatre and your leg goes to sleep. An important thing to note in this situation is that you rarely notice that it is happening. You feel fine until you try to get up. When you stand up you experience a lot of pins and needles as the leg comes back to life. This shows how you can develop dysfunction without feeling it and when the bone is out of place this is often the same type of thing that happens, just at a much slower rate and a more permanent result.
When the bone is moving in an abnormal motion it will irritate the nerve. This is a lot like a nice a pair of shoes that don't fit properly. They slide on your heel with each step. You might not even notice or you do notice and think it will be fine because it is just a little movement. Then you go out for a short 5 km run and the next day you have a blister. When this type of improper movement happens with your bones, it can irritate the nerve in the same way. This causes the nerve to send an irritated signal. Kind of like static on a phone conversation. This will affect any area those nerves go. It might be the muscles in your feet or the blood supply to your scalp. In any case it means you won't be functioning as well as you could be.
The last situation is when the bone is not moving at all and the brain loses track of where that bone is. Every time a bone moves it sends signals to the brain so it can keep track of its position and what it is doing. If the brain doesn't get those signals it gets confused and loses control of that area. It is much like how the control tower keeps track of all the airplanes in the sky. The airplane is constantly sending a signal back to the tower. That way the tower can tell it to alter its course if necessary. The tower can see all the other planes too and it makes sure that they don't crash into each other. If one plane stops sending a signal then all the planes are in trouble. In the body if a joint gets stuck and stops sending signals to the brain then all of the joints that depend on the movement of that joint are also going to be at risk of trouble.
The most important thing to realize about subluxation is that most of the time the damage that is occurring is happening in silence. The chiropractor is able to detect the subluxation long before it causes permanent damage, and long before any symptoms appear. The image below shows you the damage that long term subluxation will create. The disc will become thinner and possibly herniate. The bone will become rough around the edges and more brittle and less mobile. The nerves will become thinner and less effective at carrying a strong message. All of this adds up to a decreased quality of life and quite possibly a shorter life due to the facilitation of some type of disease.
+ The Cause of Subluxation - Life Stressors
Let us take a look at what causes subluxations in the first place. There are three main categories of stressors that cause subluxation. There are physical stressors, emotional stressors, and chemical stressors. In all cases the effect of the stressor is that the body cannot adapt and bring itself back to normal function again. Many of these stressors are a result of our lifestyle choices so there is much we can do to prevent these from happening. Once the subluxations have been created however, they must be corrected, or they will continue to cause damage. Let's have a look at each type of stressor.
Women live very physical lives these days. Most moms not only have to deal with the full time job of chasing their children around all day, they also have to go to work. Caring for small children tends to involve pretty constant bending and lifting. Work may involve excessive driving, sitting at a computer, or some type of repetitive task to be performed for 8 hours a day or more.
Then there are the more aggressive bangs and bruises along the road of life. Sometimes quite literally in the form of a car accident. Other times it can be a slip on the ice, or a tumble when out enjoying the slopes in the winter.
If any of these stressors become more than the body can handle it will create subluxations. If the body is not able to correct these subluxations it will create dysfunction in the body, and the longer they are present, the more dysfunction they will potentially create.
These subluxations, which is a term for nerve interference, can sometimes be felt as tight muscles that run down the back of the neck into the shoulders. They can also be the reason for reduced energy at the end of the day, or worse, the beginning of the day. It can also be the reason behind weekly or even daily headaches.
The air we breathe, the water we drink, and the foods we eat are where most of our chemical stressors in life, in terms of toxins, come from. Pesticides, industrial waste, and car fumes are just some examples that we all deal with daily. Some individuals encounter even more, through the consumption of tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs. Drugs prescribed by a doctor are not exempt either. They all have 'side effects' because they are all toxic to the body and these will contribute to the formation of subluxations in the body. Aspirin use is the third leading cause of preventable death, so it is certainly capable of overwhelming the body and contributing to subluxations.
If someone is exposed to a lot of chemical stressors, it increases the likelihood that they will have subluxations. Even if the chemical stressor has been removed, such as someone who quits smoking, there can be subluxations that will be left behind and they will continue to cause damage to one's health until they are corrected.
Another type of chemical stressor comes in the form of the absence of proper nutrients. All of our cells need certain nutrients to function properly. If the diet is not getting all of the proper nutrients the cells need then the cells will begin to fail and this failure will create subluxations.
Women have more responsibilities today than ever before. Many are mothers and that role is extremely demanding in itself. Keeping track of their children's needs, making sure appointments are kept, making sure meals are prepared on time and in a nutritious way. Making sure their kids are getting all the support they need to grow into healthy adults. There is a lot of mental and emotional stress around all of this.
As well as being mothers, many women today are also working at a job, or building a career, or running a business. All of these activities bring with them further demands. There is new material to study, deadlines to meet, and people to report to. No question this can all put the system into an overwhelming state. Sometimes you get the feeling that the harder you work the farther behind you fall. This frustration isn't just a major drain on your energy level and your ability to stay happy and positive, it can contribute negatively to your nervous system in the form of subluxations. Once subluxations are present it just gets harder because now your system isn't functioning at its best. All tasks are now harder than they were before and your health goes down a vicious spiral of decline.
A nurturing loving relationship is also an important aspect in most women's lives. This isn't always an easy task, a good relationship always takes work. Sometimes the amount of work it takes is more than we can deal with and our system is once again over-burdened. It is a bit of a double hit because our intimate relationship is supposed to lift us up and support us in life. Not only are we not getting that support we are actually developing more dysfunction. This makes it even harder to nurture that relationship because or energy is down and our patience is short.
Running the household, balancing the budget, paying the mortgage, and scheduling the house maintenance are tasks that take time and energy and at times it feels like there is no way you can get everything done. That's overwhelming. The fast pace of life today, the difficult economic times, the uncertainty of job security, and dwindling returns on our investments, are all putting extra stressors on us today. Some say more than we have ever had to deal with in the past.
So all three of these stressors contribute to the formation of subluxations. Our lifestyle certainly plays a role in terms of how much damage is occurring. Once the damage is present it needs to be corrected or it will continue to weaken the system. Usually this weakening is a very slow process but when the body finally runs out of room to compensate for the damage it can bring the whole system to a halt. The immune system might fail, some joints might wear out, or the body just won't be able to produce enough energy to get through the day any more. Being aware of the stressors in life is important, and we must also act to correct the subluxations as soon as they are created so we can stay ahead of the breakdown.