I mentioned in my first post that I knew very little about chiropractic before I was hired to work for Dr. Baastrup. In this post, I’d like to take you through the basics. If you’re a new CA or just an interested potential patient, this is what it’s all about right here.
Health is not a binary state, where you’re either “sick” or “not sick”. It’s a spectrum that runs from death on the one hand, to optimum health on the other. It’s not just the absence of illness or infirmity, but the presence of “aliveness” and energy. Health is physical, mental, and social. Symptoms, the thing many people take to be the primary indicator that something is wrong, are actually “first to go, last to show”, as we say.
If you don’t believe me that symptoms are a poor indicator of health, think of appendicitis. It comes with incredible pain, yes. But if that pain stops, that’s not a sign that your appendix magically fixed itself. It’s a sign that the organ has just burst, and your life is in danger from infection.
For another example, think of heart disease. By the time you have a heart attack, you’ve had impairments to the functioning of your heart to a huge degree for a long time. Cardiac arrest (and eventually, heart failure) is just your body finally not being able to compensate for other, largely asymptomatic, problems.
Chiropractors have all kinds of methods, but they (generally) try to correct spinal misalignments which we call subluxations. Subluxations are asymptomatic in and of themselves, but they eventually cause sympomatic problems. The logic goes like this:
- The nervous system controls the whole body.
- The brain is the seat of control for the nervous system.
- The spinal cord is the route along which signals travel to and from the brain.
- The spine is built to move, but a variety of things can go wrong and cause the joints of the spine to behave badly or vertebrae to become misaligned.
- The nerves that run out from the spinal cord can get irritated by these misalignments, causing communication problems with the organs associated with those nerves.
Those communication problems can give rise to a variety of issues. There’s also the issue of muscular problems as the body adapts to supporting the spine in a bad position, or bone problems as the spine loses its curvature, for instance.
A lot of problems people have with their arms and legs (such as numbness and tingling in the extremities) can be caused by problems a chiropractor can help with, too. It’s not all about the spine.
I’m a mathematician and a logical lady, so just speaking for myself personally, I wish I had more studies to point to that conclusively show causation. But I do know we help people, because I see it every day. I’ve seen several people brought into the clinic in wheelchairs that walk back out. My own tension headaches went from a daily thing to maybe once a month, if that. My husband reports that his neck and upper back pain “melted away”. We have a whole wall of testimonials like his. The science will catch up eventually. For now, we rely on outcome measurements to chart patient progress, and on documentation to support the necessity of what we do, both of which I’ll talk about in future posts. And we can rest assured knowing chiropractic is very safe and non-invasive.
Chiropractors believe that the body heals itself when everything is running smoothly. But subluxations can impair its ability to do so. Coming in for regular wellness checkups and re-alignment is important because life puts stress on your body. For example, sitting for long periods of time at an office job will mess your spine and hips up. It’s about more than just fixing people up after they tweak themselves. People need to come in before something goes horribly wrong, not when it does.