The science of Chiropractic is based on the law of homeostasis - a state of physiological equilibrium within an organism produced by the proper functioning of its parts. It focuses on the anatomy of the body - its innate ability to heal itself and the interconnectedness of every internal function in maintaining whole-body health.
The primary control center of this network is the nervous system, which flows through and can be manipulated by the 24 vertebrae of the spinal column. The vertebrae are divided into three classes - Cervical (C), Thoracic (T), and Lumbar (L). By understanding the role that each vertebrae within the spinal column plays, a doctor of Chiropractic, otherwise known as a Chiropractic Physician, can affect the way the body responds and restore a balance that facilitates its own healing system.
The Chiropractic approach to healthcare is natural, emphasizing the components involved in a patient's overall health and well-being - including diet, exercise, environment, stress level and hereditary factors. The Chiropractic approach is non-surgical and drug-free. As with their treatments, doctors of Chiropractic address not only the source of pain an individual experiences, but the patient's overall state of health and the factors surrounding it. They work with the individual to devise a treatment consistent with diet and exercise for optimal results.
In order to gain the best understanding of a patient's condition, a patient's medical history is obtained, along with their daily emotional and physical activity, neurological and orthopedic examinations when indicated and sometimes laboratory tests, X-rays and other diagnostic images.
Some Common Conditions Treated with Chiropractic Care
A common cause of neck & back pain, the term pinched nerve means that a nerve has been compressed, constricted or stretched in some way - causing numbness, tingling, burning sensations and/or a pain radiating outward from the injured area. Nerves originating in the neck & back may become pinched and trigger pain, numbness and tingling into the shoulder and arm. Often times bone spurs or degenerated discs affect the canal space between vertebrae - through which the nerve passes. And occasionally a compressed nerve in the neck & back is the result of a trauma to the neck & back may cause the vertebral joint to become inflamed and the muscles of the back to tighten. Treatment concentrates on reducing the compression and help loosen muscles, in order to reduce inflammation and corresponding pain.
The longest nerve in the body and the main nerve traveling down the leg is the sciatic nerve. When pressure is placed on the sciatic nerve from a ruptured disc, pinched nerve, or slipped disk, the condition is referred to as Sciatica. Sciatica causes a pain along the large sciatic nerve - running from the lower back down the back of each leg. Often diagnosed as a radiculopathy - which means that a disc has protruded from its normal position in the vertebral column and is putting pressure on the radicular nerve (nerve root) connecting with the sciatic nerve - it is a fairly common cause of lower back and leg pain. Generally, sciatica only affects one side of the lower body - radiating from the lower back down through the thigh and lower leg, but can in some cases also affect the foot or toes. Since this type of nerve pain is generally caused by a combination of pressure and inflammation on the nerve root, treatment is centered on relieving both.
The irregular side-to-side curvature of the spine is called scoliosis and cannot be corrected with better posture. It is generally a hereditary condition and affects only a small percentage of the population. Scoliosis usually develops during middle to late childhood and the vast majority of cases are considered Òidiopathic,Ó or of unknown cause. While it can occur in children with cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, or spinal bifida, it is most often found in otherwise healthy children.
Adult scoliosis may represent the progression of an undiagnosed condition that began in childhood. A slight curve may, in adulthood, have progressed to a more severe curvature in the absence of treatment. It can also be caused by the degenerative changes of the spine. Other spinal deformities may be associated with osteoporosis, or bone softening.
The usual scoliosis curve is a Thoracic curve (chest level). Treatment of this condition varies on the patient and severity of the scoliosis, but generally concentrates on muscle imbalances and bony deformities of the spine, ribs and pelvis
If left untreated, severe adult scoliosis can lead to chronic severe back pain, deformity and difficulty breathing. Some early signs in children may be: uneven shoulders, obvious leaning to one side, uneven waist, prominent shoulder blade(s), and elevated hips.
Chiropractic treats a variety of headaches successfully from tension headaches to cluster and migraine headaches.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
When the ulnar nerve, which runs from the side of the neck to the fingers and passes through the cubital tunnel on the inside of the elbow, becomes irritated as a result of an injury or repetitive stress, the resulting condition is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. It occurs when the elbow is often bent in lifting or pulling activities, subjected to the continuous pressure of leaning on a hard surface, or sustains injury. The pain experienced is similar to that which is described when hitting the "funny" bone in the elbow. Other symptoms may include numbness in the side or back of the hand, or tingling in the ring and little fingers. The symptoms worsen when the elbow is bent and may cause difficulty when opening jars or holding things.
Often referred to as nerve interference, vertebral sublaxation is the misalignment of vertebrae in the spinal column, or movement of the vertebrae. Often times when this occurs, nerves are encroached - affecting the nervous system and the function of involved organs. By realignment the affected vertebrae, nerve interference is eliminated and proper bodily function is restored.
Injuries Leading to Conditions Treated with Chiropractic Care
Among the most common injuries that result in conditions treated with Chiropractic care include on-the-job injuries, sports injuries and injuries resulting from automobile accidents. Ranging from tennis elbow and a pinched nerve to subluxation, injuries prompting such conditions can result from repetitive stress, such as that experienced in many job-related activities; an awkward move, twist or fall that often occurs in sports; and an unexpected jolt from an automobile accident.
An injury prompting such a condition may be immediately evident, or surface over time as chronic pain, discomfort and decreased levels of functioning. And though pain may be felt in the shoulder or extremity such as the knee, ankle, foot, wrist and elbow, the nervous system is the central networking system that links to the source of all pain - and the spinal column the key to isolating it
As our population becomes more active we see a variety of sports injuries from golf, tennis, soccer, running, basketball, football, baseball, water skiing and even rugby.
On the Job Injuries
All of the above injuries can be sustained on-the-job where the condition can go from a pulled muscle to a herniated disc to carpal tunnel problems. We are on the *Worker's Compensation Approved Doctor List *for Texas.
Injuries of all types are also sustained in car accidents. Whether your car is totaled or the vehicle damage is slight, you can sustain many types of injuries from mild to severe which may respond to chiropractic care.
Chiropractic can also be helpful in helping maintain your alignment, therefore, helping prevent future problems and helping decrease recovery time if an injury is sustained. You do not have to be experiencing symptoms to benefit from manipulation/adjustment. Stay healthy--see your chiropractor once a month and see how much better you will feel.