If there ever was a profession that is so well known but so widely misunderstood, this is it. Chiropractic is the third largest form of health care in this country behind medicine and dentistry, yet most people have no idea of what it is, what it’s for, or what we do. This is disappointing because if everyone truly knew what chiropractors have to offer, our offices would be bursting at the seams.
Most people think that chiropractic is great care for “bad backs”, headaches, sprains and strains. And it is. But there is so much more that we offer that makes it unique in the health care world.
The chiropractic philosophy – dating back to 1895 – states that your body, and all living things, has an inborn, innate intelligence that not only keeps you alive, but also animates, coordinates, repairs, empowers, and heals. Your nerve system (i.e. the brain, spinal cord, and the countless number of nerves running through you) is the main coordinating network for this intelligence. In other words, your nerve system is the operating system for your body. If your body is to be healthy, your operating system must be healthy too.
It is common knowledge that chiropractors work with the spine because your spinal cord is running through it. This is the connecting link between the brain and the body and just about all the communication in your body passes through it. Any alteration in the tone and tension of the spinal cord can distort these signals. If the signals are distorted, then body functions can change. Since health is a factor of how well your body is functioning, distorted signals can lead to ill health.
So what causes the spinal cord to change its tone and tension? Stress.
There are only three kinds of stress that we are all subjected to: emotional, chemical, and physical. Emotional stress deals with all the challenges we face each day and can range from school to relationships, to the news, to paying bills, to our jobs, and on and on. Chemical stress is the stress we get from ingesting any chemical that is not natural to the body. This includes cleaning agents, pesticides, gasoline (if you smell it, it’s now in you), medications, and herbicides to name a few. Finally, physical stress speaks for itself – falls, sports, car accidents, and even the birth process.
The problem with stress is that it is cumulative. Its affects don’t just go away because you had a good night’s sleep. As we travel along the path of life while getting stressed out, our spinal cord becomes more and more distorted, usually in the form of increased tension. This tension will manifest as muscle tightness, loss of flexibility, pain in the muscles, headaches, back and neck pain, or you might not be aware of it at all. More importantly are the changes occurring inside of you. Those same nerves that are causing the muscles to tense are also going to your internal organs where they may be causing organ dysfunction; not to mention the effect this has on your immune system making you more prone to infectious disease like colds and the flu.
A chiropractor is trained to restore integrity to the nerve system with the chiropractic adjustment, and as your nerve system becomes healthy again, your body begins to heal. In the next article, we’ll discuss the adjustment – how it works and the different methods chiropractors may use to address the spine and spinal cord.