What is Chiropractic?

glow skeleton imageChiropractic is a well established form of physical therapy used to relieve pain, and to promote health and well-being. Chiropractors relieve pain by loosening up tension in the body’s joints and soft tissues. By removing inflammation from spinal nerves and restoring normal nerve function chiropractic can improve health and wellbeing.

Chiropractors identify joint restriction, inflammation, muscle spasm, muscle weakness, and spinal nerve irritation.

Chiropractic operates on three fundamental principles:

Principle 1: Excessive strain causes inflammation.

If you strain your back by lifting incorrectly for example, your body responds by trying to heal the affected area. The healing process inevitably involves inflammation, which is a painful process. Inflammation causes scar tissue to form around the joints of the spine. This scar tissue causes the joints to move less than they normally would (they become hypo-mobile). The hypo-mobile joints in the spine cause excessive strain on other joints in the spine when under load, as they compensate for the hypo-mobile joints.

It is the job of the chiropractor to find the hypo-mobile joints (joints with scar tissue) and mobilise them. This takes the form of an adjustment. An adjustment is a force applied to a joint that is both fast and of low amplitude. A “cracking” sound is heard as a bubble of gas is formed within the joint. This is completely harmless, and the gas is resorbed by the body within 15 minutes. The end result is a joint that is moving more normally. Generally this results in immediate relief of pain because there is more flexibility, and less tension in the joints.

However the inflammation is still present in the joints and pain is still felt at the end of the range of movement. If the same restricted or hypo-mobile joint is adjusted regularly over the following few weeks, the inflammation subsides and the body is returned to optimum physical functioning. Repeated adjustments are necessary, as the inflammation that remains in the joints causes further scar tissue to form and restrict normal movement.

Everyone will get a twisted pelvis and a degree of compensatory scoliosis at some point in their life. Pelvic and lumbar asymmetry weakens the spine to the point where minimal strain can injure the joints of the back and cause acute low back pain. Your chiropractor will aim to remove or minimise any spinal asymmetry so that optimal function can be achieved.

Principle 2: Inflammation of spinal nerves results in poor health.

spinal nerves imageEvery activity in the body is under the control of the nervous system. The nervous system passes through the spinal column. If there is an injury to the spinal column a spinal nerve can be irritated by inflammation. One of the most recognisable instances of spinal nerve irritation is a lumbar disc herniation causing low back pain, leg pain, muscle weakness, pins and needles, or numbness in the leg or foot. In this scenario, swelling of the intervertebral disc causes malfunction of the spinal nerve. The function of the nerve is lost and the patient cannot walk properly due to muscle weakness or cannot feel anything due to numbness. This can be repeated anywhere in the spine by swelling in the facet joints or the intervertebral disc causing any multitude of health problems depending on which spinal nerve is irritated and which organ is affected.

Principle 3: Chronic inflammation itself can lead to poor health.

Inflammation is a process that requires a lot of energy to maintain. The resources of your body are taxed by chronic inflammation. The immune system is weakened by having chronic pain and a person is more likely to get sick the longer pain persists. Clinically many people have less illnesses when they are not in any pain.

Health is a state of optimum mental, physical and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity (Dorlands Medical Dictionary). Health is an ongoing process that must be constantly worked at throughout your life. Invest in your future by looking after your body.

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