By Dr. Robert E. Zee, D.C.
The human body is a remarkable creation. The body is controlled by the brain which sends and receives messages to all parts of the body through the spinal cord. From the spinal cord branch 31 pairs of spinal nerves that connect to and control the entire body. If there is any interference with the transmission of nerve messages to a particular muscle or organ, it will not function normally or at full capacity.
Chiropractic is founded on the principle that elimination of nerve interference will allow the body to perform at its optimum. The chiropractor, by removing interference and stress to your nervous system, opens the path for your body to perform at its maximum potential.
The Modern Discovery of Chiropractic
Chiropractic was rediscovered in 1895 by D.D. Palmer in Davenport, Iowa. At the time, Palmer was searching for the cause and effect of disease, and was primarily involved in magnetic healing. While in his office one day, Palmer encountered Harvey Lillard, a janitor, who happened to be working in the same building. Mr. Lillard had a history of hearing problems which began suddenly seventeen years prior when Lillard heard a "snap" in his upper back, and from that day on, was unable to hear. Palmer examined him, and found a lump on Mr. Lillard's back just below the base of his neck. He reasoned that a vertebra might be "misaligned" and pinching a nerve which may affect Mr. Lillard's ears.
In Palmers own words of record he states, "An examination showed a vertebra racked from its normal position. I reasoned that if that vertebra was replaced, the man's hearing should be restored. With this object in view, a half-hour talk persuaded Mr. Lillard to allow me to replace it. I racked it into position by using the spinous process as a lever, and soon the man could hear as before." Palmer concluded that Lillard's hearing loss was due to a blocked nerve energy of the spinal nerves which, in this case, control the inner ear. This blocked nerve energy was termed a "vertebral subluxation," Palmer, by correcting the subluxation by adjusting the vertebrae back into place, restored the nerve pathways and thus Lillard's hearing was restored.
What Does Chiropractic Treat?
Chiropractic treats a condition known as vertebral subluxation. A subluxation is the malposition of a vertebra with an adjacent vertebra which causes pressure on the nerve roots exiting from the spinal column. When a subluxation occurs, nerve impulses are interfered with. Range of motion of the spinal joints is lost, resulting in decreased freedom of movement, swelling of the disc and facet joints can occur, causing additional pressure on the nerves. The muscles attached to the affected vertebra can go into spasm, and may result in the development of a trigger point. Left untreated, a subluxation can lead to osteoarthritis and permanent disc damage. Nerve pressure or impingement results in a decrease in function of the end organ controlled by the nerve. If a nerve going to a muscle is impinged upon, weakness develops. If a sensory nerve is impinged upon, numbness, tingling, or other altered sensation will occur. If the nerves going to the heart, liver or kidney, are interfered with, no physical symptoms may be present, but nonetheless a decrease in function of the organ will be evident.
Chiropractic does not treat any disease or condition other than the vertebral subluxation. The body does not need any help in maintaining health, it just needs no interference. Interference to good health may refer to poor diet, poor lifestyle habits, stress, injury, vertebral subluxation, internal conflict and so on. By removing the vertebral subluxation, nerve function is restored, and the inherent recuperative powers of the body facilitate the healing. Many Doctors of Chiropractic also incorporate nutritional and exercise programs in their treatment plans. This is done to give the body every advantage possible in obtaining the healthiest possible condition.
How is the Treatment Performed?
The initial visit to a chiropractor will involve a complete spinal examination and possibly x-rays of areas of your spine. The chiropractor will then analyze the exam results and x-ray findings, and determine which area(s) of your spine are subluxated. The chiropractor will use his or her hands, or possibly an instrument, to move a subluxated vertebra back into position. This procedure is termed the adjustment. Several adjustments are usually required to completely fix any problems found.
Numerous chiropractic techniques exist today. For the most part, all chiropractic full-spine techniques obtain about the same results. Some of the most popular techniques are known as the Diversified, Thompson Drop, Cox Flexion-Distraction, Activator, and Gonstead techniques. Within chiropractic, some specialties have developed, including various upper-cervical techniques, forms of kinesiology, and the integration of energy medicine into the practice of chiropractic. The well-equipped chiropractor will understand the relationship between the body, mind and spirit, utilizing not only the adjustive force to correct vertebral subluxation, but a host of other practices as well to get you quickly on the road to better health.
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