Chiropractic and Chiropractor

Chiropractic and Chiropractor

You may have heard about Chiropractic from a friend or watched some Youtube videos online, but what does a chiropractor do exactly? There are many benefits of chiropractic care and guess what! No prescription necessary. Now, you may ask, what does a chiropractor treat or more specifically what does a chiropractor do for lower back pain? Contrary to popular belief neck and back pain are not the only reasons to see a chiropractor. Chiropractic benefits and why chiropractic is good for you are important concepts to grasp when considering chiropractic care and choosing the right chiropractor.

What is Chiropractic?

After watching all those adjustment videos on Youtube, like the one below, you may think you know all about chiropractic, but chiropractic care is much more than just cool cracking sounds and funky movements. That person in your work office twisting his/her body around the chair to crack their back is not a chiropractor, and those popping noises are not a chiropractic adjustment. Well, how exactly is that different from what a chiropractor does?

What does a Chiropractor do?

A chiropractor does not align the back unlike what most people think. It is not like your body is a stack of bricks that we go and line them up!! Through palpation, touching the spine and moving each spinal segment known as vertebra, we can assess what is fixated. There are 6 movements within each segment that need to be present and symmetrical on both sides, when they are not, the area is fixated. Pretty simple. Now, the key is how to remove the fixation. The most common method of adjustment, is the diversified or manual adjustment which is shown in the video above. BUT that is not the only method of adjusting. There are over 100 different ways to adjust the spine and what determines the method has to do with the doctor’s preference, patient’s presentation and conditions treated. Not everyone gets adjusted the same way and frankly some conditions are not suitable for the manual adjustments but can be done with another method of choice.

Why do I need to go see a Chiropractor if I can crack myself?

Cracking and adjusting both make similar noises. If you ever wondered what the noise is from, it is because of the gases that are within the joints that by adjusting or cracking the joint, you get to release them. The word is cavitation and it does not mean you are breaking your bones.

Now, when you get adjusted, the very segment that is fixated gets adjusted but when you crack your body, you are typically rotating your body to crack whatever moves- not specific and only in one specific line of movement. Let’s digress for a moment! One of the functions of the muscles around your spine is to protect this highway of nerves which is so crucial for staying alive and functioning. If you keep moving the spine randomly and non-specifically, these muscles keep getting a false signal and at some point, they realize they do not need to be super hyper-vigilant about protecting the spine. Now when you actually NEED them to protect you, they are not going to do what they are supposed to do.

A chiropractor strategically palpates the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine for a misaligned joint or subluxation and only adjusts those specific joints, being aware of every nerve, blood supply and soft tissue structures that are possibly being impacted. That’s the difference! Also, the adjustments don’t begin and end with the spine. Joints all over your body can be adjusted by a Chiropractor. The spinal alignment provided by a chiropractor is not the magic but what comes from it, which is a stimulation of your nervous system is how it begins! You ought to listen to this podcast from Chiropractic Science.

Why does it feel good to crack my neck and back?

Great question and we need to get a bit ‘nerdy’ here but bare with me! When you can move any joint, you are staying within what is called the physiological zone. Once you are outside this zone (when you crack yourself, get adjusted, sprain your ankle let’s say as an example) the receptors within the joint send a signal to the brain, alerting it of this ‘outside the norm’ movement. That is when the brain releases tranquilizers to calm you! Why? You have to think that this has to do with our survival. You see, if that lion was chasing you and you were hurt and unable to run, that would be the end of you and potentially the end of humanity. So, when you get adjusted, when you crack yourself, or when you are actually badly injured, you are ‘high’ on your own natural tranquilizer. No arrests there? 🙂

Why should you see a Chiropractor?

People hear neck pain or back pain and automatically think, chiropractor! It’s like chiropractic care is a college class and pain is the prerequisite to get in! Pain may be what led most patients to my office, but it’s most certainly not what has kept them coming back for years. Is chiropractic successful in alleviating pain? Sure but not because we are pain-killers!

If you’re reading reviews on a chiropractic office and you see this guy says his back pain went away, and another person says that their constant headaches are gone, someone else even mentions something about an ear infection being cured. Whoa… a chiropractor cures ear infections? Well, chiropractic is known to relieve ear infections, but that doesn’t mean that anyone is adjusting any ears. Remember that stimulation of your nervous system that comes with a chiropractic adjustment I mentioned earlier? There you have it. It’s not the chiropractor that heals you but it’s a boost of your own body’s nervous system, the very system that takes care of all FUNCTIONS of your body, that comes with an adjustment. Make sure you check out the Chiropractic Science website and podcasts with the latest research on the subject of Chiropractic. Mental checklist of chiropractic: pain relief ✓, immune boost ✓…. But what if I don’t need an immune boost or have any pain? 

Is chiropractic care necessary?

Why do you go to the dentist? Is it because you have a tooth ache or because you do NOT want to have one? Dental hygiene is a daily routine and dental check up is a routine. The worst case of ignoring your teeth is tooth extraction, wearing a denture of dental implant. You do NOT have that option with your spine. Once damages and deterioration are done, it is a done deal and there’s no going back!! So think of a chiropractor like a dentist for your spine, a spinal hygiene specialist if you will. Your spine encases your spinal cord and is where nerves exit to different parts of the body. The spinal cord and nerves are how our brain communicates with our body. When the spine is misaligned it causes interference of these neural pathways which disrupts the normal function of our different body systems as an end result. Pain is not always there with every problem. No pain with diabetes, high blood pressure and even cancer until it it advanced enough. Don’t be fooled by the absence of pain as the indication of health!

Now does having a normal body function sound necessary to you?.. Right, me too! And that’s why patients continue to see their chiropractor even when their pain is gone and they have no issues. It’s not a pain thing, it’s a health thing.

Is chiropractic addictive?

There is this misconception out there that once you start seeing a chiropractor, you can never stop. Basically, you see a chiropractor and you become a “crack” addict {pun intended:-)}. You ought to watch this video answering this question in detail.

At my clinic, a patient’s treatment plan is based on your personal health goals including your lifestyle and not a one size fits all situation. If you sit behind a desk all day every day your spine will tell a much different story compared to the guy who goes to the jujitsu gym 4 days a week. Maintaining your spinal health is like changing the oil in your car. It’s not based on how old the car is or the last time you changed it, but on how many miles you’ve driven since the last tune-up. I have patients who get adjusted once every two weeks and their lifestyle allows for that. Other patients need to come in twice a week because of what they do on a day to day basis!

Not to get into too much detail, I can tell you that at my practice, my initial exam is typically a combination of Brain-based Neurology and Posture, Developmental Kinesiology and Spinal assessment. In this very thorough exam is more than likely, nothing you have seen before. Spending a nice, uninterrupted time listening to patients and doing my comprehensive exam allows me to laser beam the main source of the issue to get to where the patient wants to be.

If the desire to become healthy was like asking for a fire to keep ourselves nice and warm, then chiropractic adjustment is a spark; without the spark there is no flame but just because you have a spark does not mean that you are guaranteed to get the fire. Adjustments stimulate the nervous system. What comes next is crucial and that is where many treatments fail. If it is not the right mixture of procedures customized to the patient’s needs, then the desired result is not gained!! It is as if a teacher walks into the class and says, “Kids, listen up, I have something important to say”; the kids sit up tall, anxious to hear what the important news is. If what comes next is not stimulating and exciting, the students go back to being bored like before. If after the adjustment, the right exercises for the brain (to activate the weaker brain parts that were identified from the Brain-Based Neurology and Posture exam) are performed, and then the Developmental Kinesiology (DK) progression exercises are done, THEN the message that came after the nervous system stimulation was ‘exciting’ and will accomplish the task. Here is a video on one of the more advanced DK progressions done at our office.

If you get nothing out of this blog, I hope you remember the following!

Just because there is no pain, it does not mean you are healthy. The question is, do you want to be happy, or just not sad? Do you want to be alive, or just not dead? Health is in movement and Posture is a reflection of how healthy a person is.

Live life healthier and informed. 

Dr. Shakib