What is Chiropractic?

12 Common Chiropractic Questions and Answers

What is chiropractic?
Chiropractic is a method of healthcare that releases stress from your body, focusing on the spine and nervous system. These stresses in your body are called vertebral subluxations. Chiropractors correct these subluxations with spinal adjustments. The philosophy of chiropractic is very simple. Our bodies were designed to be self-healing organisms. Within each person, we have an innate ability to heal ourselves and build and rebuild healthier tissue. Chiropractic is the largest, drugless profession in the United States, and due to the number of people who have used chiropractic services, chiropractic is no longer considered “alternative” treatment.

What is a subluxation?
The word “subluxation” comes from the Latin words meaning “to dislocate” (luxate) and “somewhat or slightly” (sub). A subluxation means a slight dislocation (misalignment) or biomechanical malfunctioning of the vertebrae (bones on the spine). These disturbances may irritate nerve roots and blood vessels which branch off from the spinal cord between each of the vertebrae. This irritation may cause pain and dysfunction in muscles, lymphatic and organ tissue as well as imbalance in the normal body processes.

What causes a subluxation?
Subluxations can be caused by any number of physical, chemical, or emotional stressors. A fall, injury, sudden jar, trauma, or sometimes an inherited spinal weakness can displace a vertebra. Other causes include: improper sleeping conditions or habits, poor posture, incorrect lifting practices, obesity, lack of rest or exercise, air pollution, chemicals in drugs and food, emotional problems or disturbances, and stress.

How is a subluxation corrected?
Doctors of Chiropractic are specialists in neuromusculoskeletal conditions. They are trained to restore the misaligned vertebrae to their proper position in the spinal column. They do this manually, with a special instrument, or a table, utilizing the chiropractic procedure known as “spinal adjustment.” Chiropractors in most cases will use their hands applying corrective pressure to the spine in a specific direction and location. The manual force or thrust helps restore the alignment and mobility of the vertebrae. In some cases, the chiropractor may use instrumentation to detect subluxation and adjust the spine.

Does the adjustment hurt?
Under normal circumstances, chiropractic adjustments are painless. In cases of recent trauma, such as whiplash, mild discomfort may be experienced due to inflammation. It is also common to feel a brief sensation in the extremities immediately following an adjustment due to the sudden decompression of the affected nerve root. Also, tingling or light headedness may result due to the “awakening” of spinal nerves.

Does an adjustment have to make a noise to be effective?
No. It is a common misconception that your joints must make a noise to be properly adjusted. However, more often than not, when your vertebrae are adjusted, the smooth articular (joint) surfaces become separated, creating and then releasing a small vacuum, making a noise. This is the same sound made when you “crack” your knuckles. Chiropractors are concerned with the position of your vertebrae, not with the noise that may occur.

How will the adjustment help me?
Chiropractic adjustments by themselves do not actually heal the body. When any of the 24 moveable spinal vertebrae become misaligned, a basic imbalance or disruption can occur in the nervous and blood vascular systems, which may contribute to stress in the body. Chiropractic adjustments help eliminate the imbalance or disruption so that the body can function and heal itself naturally.

How old should a person be before he or she begins chiropractic care?
Chiropractic patients range in age from birth to 100+. Regardless of age, the vertebrae can become misaligned. For example, the birth process may cause trauma to the neck and spine. Left uncorrected, the vertebral subluxation may disturb the delicate spinal cord and nerves which control the child’s muscles and organs. In some cases, an uncorrected subluxation may lead to a deformity of the spinal column. An early chiropractic checkup may detect many spinal problems while they are still easily correctable. In some countries, chiropractors make an adjustment or check the spine within the first few hours after a baby is born.

How does chiropractic care help the pregnant woman?
Because of the additional weight and stress on the framework of the body in pregnant women, chiropractic adjustments can help lower the incidence of pain in the lower back, legs, neck, and mid back (between the shoulder blades). Chiropractors focus on the pelvis to help ensure an easier pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Also, most women under regular chiropractic care will have a baby that is vertex (head down) presentation at the time of birth.

Is regular chiropractic care necessary?
Regular chiropractic care may be necessary to correct spinal subluxations in order to help maintain sound health and fitness. Your spine is under constant strain and stresses. Improper lifting techniques, poor posture, accidents, falls and bumps, and other stressors can contribute to spinal strain. Timely adjustments can help restore the neuromusculoskeletal integrity of the spine to normalize the body’s equilibrium and increase nerve and immune function.

Should I go to a chiropractor if I feel fine?
Even if you feel fine, chiropractic care can help your body maintain its required level of health and fitness. Even Olympic athletes and professional sports teams utilize chiropractic care to enhance performance. Chiropractors can recommend a preventive spinal-care program and advise you on correct posture, dietary information, and back exercises. Regular spinal checkups can help detect and prevent spinal stress due to subluxation.

Is it true that Chiropractors do not prescribe medication or perform surgery?
Yes. Chiropractors do not include medication or surgery in their treatment program. Chiropractors maintain that the body has a built-in capacity to restore health within certain limits, and base their care on this principle. Occasionally, the use of medication can interfere with the body’s healing mechanisms, produce side effects, create dependence, and lead to drug-caused disease and complications. The first response in most illnesses and injuries should be conservative care. Chiropractic’s principles make it possibly the safest and most appealing of the healing arts.