A Comprehensive Understanding of Chiropractic
The word chiropractic comes from Greek words meaning "treatment by hand", which is exactly what chiropractors do—they use their hands to manipulate or adjust the body and promote healing and wellness. Modern chiropractic began in 1895 when Daniel David Palmer delivered the first recorded chiropractic adjustment to Harvey Lillard, a janitor in his office. Harvey had been deaf since his childhood when he hurt his back. Harvey had a full recovery from his back pain including the restoration of his hearing after only that one adjustment. Although this may seem like an extreme example, and chiropractic is certainly not a usual cure for deafness, Dr. Palmer's story clearly illustrates the potential that chiropractic care demonstrates within the realm of healing.On the surface it may seem that chiropractic is limited to helping the spine, muscles and joints, however this is not always the full case. It must be remembered that the spine's function is to provide protection to the spinal cord, which is a direct extension of the brain. When people think of the brain, they picture only part of the brain. They only picture the part that is contained within the skull forgetting to include the spinal cord. The brain and spinal cord are complex, delicate and responsible for running and maintaining all the systems and functions of the body. Some functions include the ability to use your muscles, touch, perception of pain and temperature, breathing, flow of blood through the blood vessels, control of proper digestion and elimination and controlling the body's immune system. You can think of the spinal cord as the wires that enable the brain to communicate with all parts of the body but this is only the partial picture. The spinal cord has certain functions within itself that do not rely on the brain, reflexes are an example of a function that occurs entirely in the spinal cord and does not involve the brain itself. While the brain is encased in the skull, the spinal cord has a "casing" too. Nature's answer to this challenge is the 24 movable bones called the vertebrae. The vertebrae afford protection to the delicate spinal cord, while allowing for a full range of motion.The spine is made up of several joints, each one of these joints must bemoving entirely and properly in all of its ranges of motion. If even one of the joints is
not moving properly, it disturbs the balance and alignment to some degree. The lack of proper movement of these vertebral joints is called spinal fixation. When a vertebral joint is not moving properly and this imbalance disturbs the nervous system, this is called a subluxation. Both a subluxation and/or spinal fixation can result in other joints having to move more excessively to pick up the slack, which causes irritation and can also result in pain. Pain is often a result of disturbed spinal balance and it is usually the last thing to come and the first thing to go with the onset of subluxation or spinal fixations. It is not necessary to get to the point where your body is in pain. If the spinal motion and balance is restored and then maintained, pain can be avoided all together. A chiropractor is trained to correct
subluxations or fixations of the spine through a process known as the chiropractic adjustment. After an adjustment, immediate relief can be experienced. If the
underlying imbalance has been there for quite some time, it can sometimes take longer to achieve complete recovery. The question arises, "Why, once I'm adjusted do I have to keep getting adjusted?” To answer this, here is an analogy: When a person's teeth are crooked they get braces. After the teeth have straightened out, the orthodontist puts in a retainer. The reason that the retainer is used when the teeth are already straight is because the canals that surround the teeth are still crooked. It takes time for these retaining elements (the tooth canals) to straighten out. The spine also has retaining elements. In the spine however, these are not canals but are muscles, ligaments and tendons. When proper mobility and balance is restored to the vertebrae, the correction must now be maintained so that the muscles, ligaments and tendons can compensate themselves back to normal.
The chiropractic philosophy is based on the following belief statements:
1. All bodily functions are connected and the healing process involves the entire body.
2. A healthy nervous system, particularly the spine, is the key to a healthy body. The
spinal cord carries information throughout the body and is responsible for all bodily functions. When the systems of the body are in balance, it is called homeostasis. Disorders of the bones, muscles, and nerves can disrupt homeostasis and increase the risk of disease and other health problems.
3. When body systems are in harmony, the human body has the remarkable ability to maintain health and heal itself.
What does Chiropractic care involve?
The first thing Dr. Amber Brooks, DC, CACCP will do is to conduct a thorough history of your child’s health and any complaints. This is followed by a complete physical examination of the child’s spine. She will use gentle, specific skills to find and adjust any involved spinal areas as well as providing nutritional and lifestyle advice.
When people are told Dr. Brooks, DC, CACCP treats children and babies, their initial reaction is often one of surprise, as they assume that she uses the same techniques on children as she does on adults. Dr. Brooks truly tailors to the individual and their particular spine, and children are no exception. She offers specific, gentle adjustments appropriate to the infant/child’s spine and craniosacral therapy (see craniosacral section for more info). Spinal adjustments for infants and young children involve very light fingertip pressure to correct spinal misalignments. This amount of “force” is often not more than a finger touch. This is usually sufficient to restore mobility to spinal joints, which have become locked and are causing interference to the normal nervous system function. Occasionally, the adjustments will make a ‘popping’ sound when the spinal joints are moved, fondly referred to “popcorn” in the office. However, this is not always heard when children’s spines are adjusted.
Does it hurt?
In general, chiropractic care for children is painless, except in cases where the child has an actual injury. In these areas, the child may be sensitive to touch; however, once the adjustment has been made and the area can heal more effectively, the sensitivity is alleviated. Overall, parents report that their children enjoy their spinal adjustments and look forward to their next visit.
How long will it take?
A child’s spine will generally respond much faster than an adult’s spine to chiropractic adjustments and will often require only a few adjustments to restore normal function. The actual number of adjustments varies depending on many factors such as the type of trauma involved and history of condition.
Is it safe?
The risks of a child suffering notable injury from a spinal adjustment are extremely minimal. Chiropractors have been adjusting children for more than 100 years and have an excellent safety record.
A recent study done by the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA) in the US, Canada and Europe showed that only a few children (out of more than 10,000 visits) experienced minor discomfort and fussiness. The remaining children in the study had no adverse reactions to the adjustment. This data tells us that chiropractic care for children may be one of the safest forms of health care available.