All Posts tagged Chiropractic Care

The History of Chiropractic: D.D. Palmer

DD_PalmerChiropractic has been evolving over the past century, but its roots go back to ancient China and Greece.  Ancient writings in these cultures mention manipulation of the spine and maneuvering of the lower extremities to ease low back pain.  Even Hippocrates, who lived from 460 to 357 B.C. published texts detailing the importance of chiropractic care.  He wrote, “Get knowledge of the spine, for this is the requisite for many diseases.”

Modern chiropractic emerged near the end of the 19th century when health care was a conglomeration of competing theories, practitioners, potions and schemes.  Except in urban centers, doctors were scarce, and most health care was provided in the home by family members. Hospitals were even scarcer than doctors and were seen as places where the terminally ill went to die.  Heroic medicine was the most prevalent form of “orthodox” medicine in the first half of the 19th century.  Heroic practice involved the notion that the harshness of the doctor’s remedies should be in proportion to the severity of the patient’s disease. This meant that the sickest patients were at risk of dying from the treatment since most doctors used things such as mercury and other toxins as well as lancets for letting of blood.

Against this backdrop of heroic medicine, the Native American and Thompsonian traditions of herbal and other botanical remedies grew popular, and were joined in the early part of the 19th century by homeopathic medicine (promoted by Samuel Hahnemann, M.D., of Germany) and the magnetic healing methods of Franz Anton Mesmer, M.D.  It was during this era of medicine that the founder of modern chiropractic, Daniel David Palmer, was born.  Daniel David (known as D.D.) was born in 1845 in rural Ontario, Canada, but his family relocated to the Mississippi River valley near the end of the Civil War.  It was here that D.D. took up the practice of magnetic healing.

After nine years of clinical experience and theorizing, D.D. had decided that inflammation was the essential characteristic of all disease.  With his sensitive fingers, Palmer sought to locate inflammation in his patients.  By late 1895, Palmer began theorizing that inflammation occurred when displaced anatomical structures rubbed against one another, causing friction and heat.  So Palmer started trying to manually reposition the parts of the body so as to prevent friction and the development of inflamed tissue.

The first recipient of D.D. Palmer’s new strategy of treatment was a janitor in the building where Palmer operated his 40-room facility. Patient Harvey Lillard reported in the January 1897 issue of The Chiropractic that: “I was deaf 17 years and I expected to always remain so, for I had doctored a great deal without any benefit. I had long ago made up my mind to not take any more ear treatments, for it did me no good. Last January Dr. Palmer told me that my deafness came from an injury in my spine. This was new to me; but it is a fact that my back was injured at the time I went deaf. Dr. Palmer treated me on the spine; in two treatments I could hear quite well. That was eight months ago. My hearing remains good.”

Pleased with his results with Harvey Lillard, D.D. Palmer extended his new work as a “magnetic manipulator” (Palmer 1897) to patients with a variety of other health problems, with reportedly good results. In the summer of 1896 he sought and obtained a charter for the Palmer School of Magnetic Cure, wherein he would teach his new method (Wiese 1896). With the assistance of his friend and patient, Reverend Samuel Weed, D.D. adopted Greek terms to form the word “chiropractic,” meaning done by hand. His school became known informally as Palmer’s School of Chiropractic (PSC), and he trained a few students, several of whom were allopathic and osteopathic doctors.

D.D.’s son B.J. took over the running of the Palmer School while D.D. went on to open two other schools.  D.D. passed away in 1913 of typhoid fever in Los Angeles, California.  D.D. left the legacy of a founding a form of healthcare that has helped millions of people over the past century.


Chiropractic Care Using the Activator Adjusting Instrument

Activator_adjustmentChiropractors use different techniques to perform the chiropractic adjustment.  Some chiropractors use their hands and others use instruments.  This post will cover the most widely used adjusting instrument, known as the Activator Adjusting Instrument.  The Activator Adjusting Instrument and the chiropractic technique associated with it was developed in 1967 and has become the most widely used low-force chiropractic technique in the world.  According to the 2005 National Board of Chiropractic Examiner’s Job Analysis, 51.2% of American chiropractors report using the Activator Adjusting Instrument for patient care.

The Activator Instrument is a spring-loaded, hand-held mechanical instrument that provides a quick, low-force impulse at specific points.  The instrument gives off 0.3 J of kinetic energy in a 3-millisecond pulse.  The instrument was specifically designed to deliver a controlled, light and fast thrust without undue strain to the patient.  As a result, this specific system of adjusting restores proper balance, and does so with improved safety and comfort.

There are two main advantages of an Activator Instrument treatment.  The first is based on the speed of the device.  The instrument is so fast that the body’s muscles are less likely to tense up in response and resist the treatment.  When any force, such as a chiropractic adjustment, intrudes on the body, muscles in the involved area are automatically contracted by a reflex mechanism in order to protect that area from the force.  The Activator instrument produces a thrust which is quicker than the body’s reflexes can respond.  In other words, the thrust delivered by the instrument is so quick that it accelerates ahead of the body’s tendency to tighten up and resist the thrust of an adjustment.  The lack of muscle resistance helps with the treatment’s effectiveness.

The second advantage is that the applied force is localized and does not add any additional torque or bending movement to the joint.  In other words, with the Activator Instrument, the chiropractor can pinpoint the dysfunctional joint and apply the specific force needed to restore movement to the joint without subjecting the body to any extra forces.  So when you combine the accuracy and the controlled light force, it makes Activator Methods treatments both effective and suitable for all types of patients including pregnant women, babies and children, athletes and seniors.


Chiropractic Treatment of Foot and Ankle Problems

I see a lot of patients in my office complaining of foot and ankle pain.  The most common types of foot problems that I encounter are plantar fasciitis, metatarsalgia, Morton’s Neuroma, and Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome.  Most ankle problems are usually the result of an ankle sprain at some point in time or Achilles tendonitis.  One thing that all of these conditions have in common is there is some sort of structural problem with the foot that is causing them. 

The foot is a very complex structure.  It is made up of 28 bones and 25 joints.  They are configured to accommodate the stability and mobility responsibilities of the foot and ankle on various surfaces during various degrees of weight bearing.  Ultimately, all of these structures configure to form the arch of the foot.  The arch is integral to the foot’s function of mobility and stability.  In terms of mobility, the arch acts as a shock absorber and allows the foot to adapt to changes in terrain.  In terms of stability, the arch allows for weight distribution through the foot during weight bearing and converts the foot to a rigid lever when pushing off during gait.  When the structure of the foot breaks down, the foot does not function as it was intended and pain is usually the end result.

As chiropractors, we look at restoring the normal structural functioning of the foot.  This is accomplished through a number of ways, but mostly through chiropractic adjustments and therapies.  Chiropractic adjustments restore normal movement and alignment to the joints of the foot and ankle.  This decreases stress on the soft tissues and helps to improve the functioning of the arch of the foot.  Therapies help to decrease pain and inflammation in the foot. 

Finding the proper footwear is also important.  Different types of foot problems require different types of support.  For example, a flat foot needs a different type of shoe than a foot with a high arch.  Also, orthotic arch supports may also be needed to properly support the foot.  These are things that a chiropractor can advise you about. 


How Can Chiropractic Care Help Asthma?

chest-x-raySpinal misalignments cause many health problems because vertebrae that are not aligned properly can irritate important nerves and restrict their effectiveness.  The nerves coming out of the upper back innervate the lungs, and if these nerves aren’t functioning optimally they may make the lungs more sensitive to asthma triggers.  In fact, there are a number of studies that show that chiropractic correction of these spinal misalignments help improve the symptoms of asthma.   

Dr. Ray Hayek conducted a trial at 16 treatment centers in Australia, involving 420 patients, in an effort to find out what effects spinal manipulation has on symptoms such as depression and anxiety, general health status, and the levels of immunity.  He tested the concentrations of both an immunoglobulin (IgA) and an immunosuppressant (cortisol) to gauge his results.  Dr. Hayek was trying to prove that different forms of manual therapy (including massage) improve symptoms and lower cortisol levels in asthma patients.

Dr. Hayek reported that only the patient group that underwent spinal manipulation displayed significant improvement in asthma symptoms.  Conducting only interviews at the treatment centers or being monitored at home did not yield these improvements.  In addition, patients actually undergoing spinal manipulation displayed dramatic increases of IgA and decreases of cortisol even after asthma treatment had ceased, suggesting that the treatments affected the patients’ long-term health. These patients were expected to ward off subsequent asthmatic attacks.

These changes not only suggest that the effects of spinal manipulation are more far-reaching than commonly believed, but that they may be more long-term as well. The gain in health achieved after spinal manipulations were performed is expected to reduce the incidence and severity of pathogenic invasion of the airways. There would be less of a risk under these circumstances of experiencing the symptoms of asthma.

Another study was conducted by the National University Hospital (Rigshospitalet) in Copenhagen, Denmark.  The purpose of their randomized patient- and observer-blinded cross-over trial was to evaluate the efficacy of chiropractic treatment in the management of chronic asthma when combined with pharmaceutical maintenance therapy.  Patients were randomized to receive either active chiropractic spinal manipulative treatment or sham chiropractic spinal manipulative treatment twice weekly for 4 weeks, and then crossed over to the alternative treatment for another 4 weeks.  During the course of the study, objective lung function did not change.  However, during the study, non-specific bronchial hyperreactivity (n-BR) improved by 36% and patient-rated asthma severity decreased by 34% compared with the baseline values.

In another study conducted in 1996 by the Michigan Chiropractic Council (MCC), a panel of doctors tested the effectiveness of chiropractic care on children with asthma.  The study, which took place during May and June of 1996, examined the impact of chiropractic care on asthmatic patients from birth to age 17.   “After 30 days of chiropractic health care, patients averaged only one attack, whereas prior to the study they were experiencing more than four attacks,” said MCC Dr. Bob Graham, who directed the study. “Medications, which can be costly, were decreased by nearly 70 percent. Finally, patient satisfaction was rated 8.5 on a scale of 10.”

According to Richard Pistolese, research assistant for the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association, “Based upon information currently available, chiropractic care represents a safe non-pharmacological health care approach, that may be associated with a decrease in asthma-related impairment, reduced respiratory effort, and a decrease incidence of asthma attacks.”  Pistolese goes further to say, “The correction of vertebral subluxation is a non-invasive procedure, which could reduce or eliminate the need for medication, and potentially ease the severity of the asthmatic condition.”

Based on these studies and results other patients have gotten with chiropractic care, if you or someone you love suffers from asthma, you may want to try chiropractic care.




Chiropractic Treatment of Shoulder Problems

Your shoulder joint is the most complex, flexible, and mobile joint in your body. It is because of this complexity that you are able to perform many different movements and activities. However, this ability to move also makes the shoulder particularly fragile. Anatomically, the shoulder involves three different bones – the scapula (shoulder blade), the clavicle (collar bone), and the humerus (upper arm bone) – many connecting ligaments, and approximately 20 different muscles. The main joint, the glenohumeral joint, is connected by ligaments and a group of muscles (and their tendon attachments) knows as the rotator cuff. Problems with the rotator cuff are common causes of shoulder pain and disability.

As with other joints, shoulder problems can be caused by trauma, mechanical dysfunction due to imbalances in the muscles, or by wear and tear of the tissues surrounding the joint. Arthritic changes do occur in the shoulder joint, though not as commonly as the weight-bearing joints of the spine, hips, and knees. Overuse of the shoulder in sports such as tennis and golf or other repetitive activities can cause the muscles to become overly tight or strained. People who sit too much in a slouched position or with the shoulders held forward are also at risk of developing imbalances in the shoulder muscles causing some to be too tight or too weak. This causes dysfunction in the normal mechanics of the joint.

Shoulder and arm pain may be referred from some other region of the body, as when someone suffering a heart attack feels pain in the left shoulder and down the left arm. The pain may also be referred from nerves associated with the joints in the neck, or cervical spine. The nerves leaving the neck innervate the joints and muscles of the shoulder, arm, and hand. If there is a problem with the neck, pain can be referred down the arm all the way to the hand.

Rotator Cuff Syndrome
One or more of the rotator cuff tendons that hold your arm in place can be inflamed or torn by injury or overuse. Regardless of the reason, pain and limitation of normal motion will eventually develop. The severity can vary from a slight catching or pain to an almost complete inability to use the shoulder.

Frozen Shoulder
Another common problem, especially among middle age women is “frozen shoulder.” This often debilitating condition occurs when the ligaments and tendons of the glenohumeral joint get so irritated that adhesions develop making the joint almost stuck together. This results in an extreme limitation of shoulder motion and pain that makes it difficult for some individuals to even get dressed! Left alone, frozen shoulder can take several years to resolve and therefore needs attention by a professional such as a chiropractor.

The treatment of most conditions of the shoulder is basically the same. One must correct muscle imbalance with either soft tissue massage or electrotherapy modalities, restore proper mobility to the shoulder joints and, of course, correct any misalignments in the spine. Special rehabilitation exercises advised by your chiropractor are also essential in order for a full and fast recovery.