What is Chiropractic?
Taking a Natural Systemic Approach to Healing
Chiropractic is a way of looking at the human body as a whole. It's based on the idea that the body is self-sustaining and self-healing.
You know that your body is controlled by your brain, but the spinal cord and vast network of nerves that carry its messages are just as important. When this system is not functioning at its peak, your body’s overall performance suffers.
In the chiropractic world, we don’t use drugs to treat our patients. While supplementation and nutrition are almost always a part of the bigger picture, drugs and prescriptions can be viewed as bandaids to treat symptoms rather than treating the source of the problem. Chiropractic treats the problem naturally and in turn prompts the body to heal itself.
While it's often perceived that the chiropractor solely treats back and neck pain, this is a small piece of what the profession is capable of handling. Chiropractors not only treat soft and hard tissue problems such as sciatica and joint pain, but are largely called on to deal with many different health issues. Some of these issues include fibromyalgia, allergies, insomnia, and headaches among many more.
SEE A CHIROPRACTOR FOR YOUR PAIN?
By Dr. Karin Drummond, Chiropractic Physician
SOME PEOPLE CONTEND THAT chiropractic medicine is less valid or less advanced than other forms of medicine. This is not true. It is sad to me that many people still consider chiropractic an “alternative” medicine or think that chiropractors just treat neck or back pain.
Chiropractors are primary care physicians who have as many years of education as a medical doctor. It only takes months to learn how to adjust, but years to learn differential diagnosis. A chiropractor knows when not to manipulate, when to refer a patient to someone else, and which specialist the patient should bereferred to, if need be.
There is little
mystery on why chiropractic works. It has been scientifically studied for its
efficacy and economy for decades. Chiropractors are more than just neck and
back doctors. They can help not only with your pain but with so much more.
Chiropractors have more education in nutrition, anatomy, differential diagnostics, and imaging than medical doctors do. A medical doctor’s education is filled with
pharmacology, which chiropractors study minimally.
Medication versus Chiropractic
When you seek medical treatment, a medical doctor typically treats you with a drug, whereas a chiropractor can help you find a way to heal without using medication to mute your symptoms.
There is a reason medications require a prescription. I have had many patients who suffered terribly after taking just a few doses of a new medication prescribed by their doctor. Some of their more common side effects have included chronic pain, hormone imbalance, weight gain, and depression.
Serious negative side effects are real and do occur. This is why I strongly believe that if you have the time to see if the natural route works for you, you should pursue it. Medicine is better suited for critical ailments when you do not have the time to allow your body to heal itself. To use medicine for anything else is unhealthy in the long run.
If you can get better with chiropractic treatment and lifestyle changes, those approaches are better than turning to a pain pill. If you go the prescription route for pain, you are not solving the problem. You’re masking it and allowing the pain to worsen with time while the pain medication’s efficacy wanes.
Starting with Chiropractic
If you suffer from pain, chiropractors can help you determine the cause of it. They will treat you and/or refer you to another healthcare practitioner if necessary. They can also teach you how to naturally alleviate pain.
I look forward
to a time when patients try chiropractic first to see if it can help (knowing
their chiropractor will send them to a medical doctor or surgeon if they feel
the patient’s condition is beyond what chiropractic can alleviate). Even if
chiropractic does not work for you, you can always fall back on the medical
route. But if you start with the medical route, especially surgery, sometimes
there is no turning back.
I believe if people saw a chiropractor before going to a medical doctor, it would solve a lot of our healthcare problems in America (both the costs of healthcare and the general health of this country).
From the American Chiropractic Association (ACA):
Q: Is chiropractic treatment safe?
A: Chiropractic is widely recognized as one of the safest drug-free, non-invasive therapies available for the treatment of neuromusculoskeletal complaints. Although chiropractic has an excellent safety record, no health treatment is completely free of potential adverse effects. The risks associated with chiropractic, however, are very small. Many patients feel immediate relief following chiropractic treatment, but some may experience mild soreness, stiffness or aching, just as they do after some forms of exercise. Current research shows that minor discomfort or soreness following spinal manipulation typically fades within 24 hours.
Neck pain and some types of headaches are treated through precise cervical manipulation. Cervical manipulation, often called a neck adjustment, works to improve joint mobility in the neck, restoring range of motion and reducing muscle spasm, which helps relieve pressure and tension. Neck manipulation, when performed by a skilled and well-educated professional such as a doctor of chiropractic, is a remarkably safe procedure.
Some reports have associated high-velocity upper neck manipulation with a certain rare kind of stroke, or vertebral artery dissection. However, evidence suggests that this type of arterial injury often takes place spontaneously in patients who have pre-existing arterial disease. These dissections have been associated with everyday activities such as turning the head while driving, swimming, or having a shampoo in a hair salon. Patients with this condition may experience neck pain and headache that leads them to seek professional care—often at the office of a doctor of chiropractic or family physician—but that care is not the cause of the injury. The best evidence indicates that the incidence of artery injuries associated with high-velocity upper neck manipulation is extremely rare—about one to three cases in 100,000 patients who get treated with a course of care. This is similar to the incidence of this type of stroke among the general population.
If you are visiting your doctor of chiropractic with upper-neck pain or headache, be very specific about your symptoms. This will help your doctor of chiropractic offer the safest and most effective treatment, even if it involves referral to another health care provider.
When discussing the risks of any health care procedure, it is important to look at that risk in comparison to other treatments available for the same condition. In this regard, the risks of serious complications from spinal manipulation for conditions such as neck pain and headache compare very favorably with even the most conservative care options. For example, the risks associated with some of the most common treatments for musculoskeletal pain—over-the-counter or prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) and prescription painkillers—are significantly greater than those of chiropractic manipulation.
According to the American Journal of Gastroenterology, people taking NSAIDS are three times more likely than those who do not to develop serious adverse gastrointestinal problems such as hemorrhage (bleeding) and perforation. That risk rises to more than five times among people age 60 and older.
Moreover, the number of prescriptions for powerful drugs such as oxycodone and hydrocodone have tripled in the past 12 years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that abuse of these commonly prescribed painkillers are among the leading causes of accidental death in the United States. Overdoses of opioid painkillers are responsible for some 15,000 deaths per year; that’s more than the number of deaths from cocaine and heroin combined.
Doctors of chiropractic are well trained professionals who provide patients with safe, effective care for a variety of common conditions. Their extensive education has prepared them to identify patients who have special risk factors and to get those patients the most appropriate care, even if that requires referral to a medical specialist.