All Posts tagged chiropractic

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.

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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.

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Chiropractic Focuses on Wellness

wellnessChiropractic is a health care system that is founded on the premise that a properly functioning nervous system is essential to overall health and function of the human body.  Doctors of Chiropractic detect and correct vertebral subluxations by physically adjusting the spine. This restores the nervous system to an optimum level of function, which maximizes the body’s inherent healing potential.

Chiropractic adjustments restore normal nerve function; improve spinal biomechanics, range of motion, reflex arcs, and posture, all of which are essential to a properly functioning nervous system. Doctors of Chiropractic are experts in spinal structure and body mechanics. Chiropractic adjustments restore and maintain the structural integrity of the body by correcting spinal subluxations. Chiropractors emphasize the importance of posture to overall health, a concept that has been often overlooked in traditional methods of health care.

Health care is slowly changing from a symptom, disease-based system to a function, and performance-based system in which the structure of the human body is restored and maintained. Correction and maintenance of the structure of the spine is of paramount importance in the pursuit of optimal health and longevity.

In his book, “The Wellness Revolution” economist Paul Zane Pilzer predicts that wellness will become the next trillion-dollar industry. According to Pilzer, wellness is “not about a fad or trend, it’s about a new and infinite need of infusing itself into the way we eat, exercise, sleep, works, save, age, and almost every other aspect of our lives.”

Wellness incorporates all the elements for preventive health care — nutritious diet, aerobic conditioning, good posture, strength training, rest and periodic spinal adjustments. Wellness really involves all aspects of your life. Although millions of people have experienced relief from back and neck pain through chiropractic care, the focus and intent of chiropractic is far beyond the elimination of symptoms, but rather is in the correction of subluxations in order to ensure a properly functioning nervous system.

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Tips To Prevent Back Pain From Backpacks

girl-with-backpackAs I stated in the previous post, children are developing more and more cases of back pain from using backpacks.  So as parents, what can you do?  The American Chiropractic Association offers the following tips to help prevent the pain that backpack misuse could cause the students in your household:

  • Make sure your child’s backpack weighs no more than 5 to 10 percent of his or her body weight. A heavier backpack will cause your child to bend forward in an attempt to support the weight on his or her back, rather than on the shoulders, by the straps.
  • The backpack should never hang more than four inches below the waistline. A backpack that hangs too low increases the weight on the shoulders, causing your child to lean forward when walking.
  • A backpack with individualized compartments helps in positioning the contents most effectively. Make sure that pointy or bulky objects are packed away from the area that will rest on your child’s back.
  • Bigger is not necessarily better. The more room there is in a backpack, the more your child will carry-and the heavier the backpack will be.
  • Urge your child to wear both shoulder straps. Lugging the backpack around by one strap can cause the disproportionate shift of weight to one side, leading to neck and muscle spasms, as well as low-back pain.
  • Wide, padded straps are very important. Non-padded straps are uncomfortable, and can dig into your child’s shoulders.
  • The shoulder straps should be adjustable so the backpack can be fitted to your child’s body. Straps that are too loose can cause the backpack to dangle uncomfortably and cause spinal misalignment and pain.
  • If the backpack is still too heavy, talk to your child’s teacher. Ask if your child could leave the heaviest books at school, and bring home only lighter hand-out materials or workbooks.
  • Although the use of rollerpacks – or backpacks on wheels – has become popular in recent years, many schools, as well as the American Chiropractic Association, are now recommending that they be used cautiously and on a limited basis by only those students who are not physically able to carry a backpack. In fact, some school districts have begun banning the use of rollerpacks because they clutter hallways, resulting in dangerous trips and falls.

If you or your child experiences any pain or discomfort resulting from backpack use, call your doctor of chiropractic. Doctors of chiropractic are licensed and trained to diagnose and treat patients of all ages and will use a gentler type of treatment for children. In addition, doctors of chiropractic can also prescribe exercises designed to help children develop strong muscles, along with instruction in good nutrition, posture and sleeping habits.

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The Primary Causes of Low Back Pain

Acute pain in a woman backHaving treated many cases of low back pain over the years, I have heard lots of explanations of how their back pain began.  I have heard everything from falling down stairs to sleeping on a bad mattress to sneezing.  But at the end of the day, most cases of low back pain originate from only 5 causes. 

1. An acute accident or injury.  For this type of case the diagnosis is typically very straightforward. A slip and fall, muscle strain, vehicle accident, sprain from lifting or similar event often causes immediate pain or pain within 24 hours of the event.

2. Sub-acute accident or injury. This type of case can be a little more difficult because the patient cannot often recall a specific reason for the pain.  It usually stems from a mild injury that went unnoticed by the patient sometime before the pain began. 

3. Chronic pain from ongoing mechanical stress. An example of this type of problem might be a patient that has a desk job that involves hours of sitting each day. Even if they have ergonomic furniture, the prolonged sitting causes back pain.

4. Degenerative discs or joints. These conditions can affect a wide range of patients. This is usually the result of disc and joint deterioration as a result of an injury long ago. Or in some cases, a patient is simply more prone to early spinal degeneration as a result of genetics.

Degenerative joint conditions often develop silently for years and are not revealed until the patient realizes that their back pain is getting worse over time.  Degenerative disc processes also include bulging or herniated discs that can result in pinched nerves.

5. Other disease processes such as arthritis. Although patients are often told that their condition is the result of “arthritis”, but in many cases patients with degenerative disc conditions are misdiagnosed as having arthritis. 

Effective treatment for back pain is dependent on getting the diagnosis right.

If the pain is solely the result of a recent injury or tight muscles, rest and cold packs may be effective.

Many doctors will prescribe pain killers. However, for conditions that have been present for more than a few days, these drugs are likely to bring about temporary relief at best. When the pills wear off, the pain returns. That is because the underlying condition that is causing the pain is not being addressed.

If a patient fails to respond to the first round of drugs, another more powerful selection might be offered. Physical therapy may also be recommended. Physical therapists usually provide treatments such as ultrasound or electric stimulation. These therapies can be helpful for many patients. In addition the patients will often be taught how to do specific exercises at home. This is beneficial for many patients.

If a patient has a disc injury, they may be referred to a spinal surgeon. In extreme cases spinal surgery may be the only reasonable solution. However, spinal surgery necessarily damages healthy tissue while gaining access to the damaged tissue, and should be considered a last resort.

Often patients choose to bypass the traditional medical route and seek alternative solutions for their back pain. Preferred options may include massage, acupuncture and chiropractic care.

Chiropractors are spinal specialists. Chiropractic training includes more time spent studying spinal function in detail than any other medical provider. It make sense that chiropractors will typically have successful treatments for a wide range of spinal issues.

Spinal manipulation is one of the most familiar treatments offered by chiropractors. Many people are surprised to learn that chiropractic care involves much more than spinal manipulation. In our office for example, we provide detailed examinations, therapies such as electrical stimulation, rehab training in corrective exercises, an incredibly wide range of manipulative procedures including very gentle approaches.

Regardless of the cause for back pain, there is likely an effective treatment available. The key is matching the treatment to the correct diagnosis.

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