All Posts tagged chiropractor

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 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.


What Do Chiropractors Treat?

When a new patient comes into my office, I explain to them that as a chiropractor I treat what is called a subluxation.  The first time I say that word, the look on their face is “you treat a what?”.  After I explain to them that it’s a vertebrae that is out of alignment and is irritating a nerve, they usually understand.  The word “subluxation” comes from the Latin words meaning “somewhat or slight” (sub) and “to dislocate” (luxate).  So the term vertebral subluxation means a slight dislocation or misalignment of the bones in the spine.

In reality, the subluxation is one of the main causes of pain and disease, and chiropractors are the only health professional that is trained to diagnose and treat them.  Chiropractors can correct the misaligned vertebrae and return it to its proper position.  This is what is called a chiropractic adjustment.  The chiropractic adjustment is a quick thrust that is applied to a vertebra, either by the chiropractor’s hands or an instrument, which corrects the bone’s position or movement.  The adjustments are able to relieve pressure and irritation on the nerves and restore joint mobility.

Now there are 5 components of a vertebral subluxation:

  1. Bone – The vertebra is either out of alignment, not moving correctly, or degenerating.  This can lead to a narrowing of the spaces where the nerves pass through, resulting in irritation or impingement of the nerve itself.  Chiropractors can determine this through things like x-rays or other tests.
  2. Nerve – There is a disruption in the normal flow of energy along the nerve fibers, causing the information traveling down the nerves to be distorted.  This results in the tissues that are fed by those nerves to not function correctly because the messages they are receiving from the brain are distorted.  Over time, this can lead to conditions, such as indigestion, asthma, headaches, bowel problems, and difficulties with other organ systems.  Some chiropractors use special instruments called nervoscopes that can detect signs of nerve irritation.
  3. Muscle – Muscles both affect and are affected by the subluxation.  Muscles hold the vertebrae in place, and they are innervated by the nerves that come out of the spaces between the vertebrae.  So a subluxation irritates a nerve, the irritated nerve causes its muscles to spasm, the spasming muscles can pull the vertebrae further out of alignment which causes the nerves to be more irritated…you end up with a vicious cycle.  Some chiropractors use surface EMG’s or other diagnostic tests to find such problems with muscles.
  4. Soft Tissue – The vertebral subluxations affect the surrounding tendons, ligaments, blood supply, and other tissues as the misaligned vertebrae pull on and compress the soft tissues.  Over time, the soft tissues can become stretched out or scarred, leaving the spine with either a permanent instability or restriction.
  5. Chemical – The vertebral subluxation can cause chemicals to be released, called kinins, which produce inflammation or swelling in the area.

As a result of these 5 components of the subluxation, there are ways that you can tell if you have one of these subluxations:

  1. You can have pain or tenderness in the area.
  2. You can have muscle spasms or muscle tightness.
  3. You can have a joint that does not move as well as it should, i.e. you can’t move your back/neck as well as you used to or as well one way compared to another.
  4. You can have swelling or puffiness around that area.
  5. You can feel warmth around the area, i.e. that part of your spine feels warmer than another part.

If you feel like you may be suffering from a vertebral subluxation, you are welcome to contact me for further information.  If you are not in my area, I would be more than willing to see if I could recommend someone who is.


What is Chiropractic?

Chiropractors are physicians who treat disorders of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems through the use of chiropractic adjustments to manipulate the spine.  Manipulation of the spine and other joints in the body has actually been around for a long time.  They discovered writings in China and Greece dating between 2700 B.C. and 1500 B.C. that mention manipulation of the spine and lower extremities to ease low back pain.  Even Hippocrates, the famous Greek physician who lived from 460 to 357 B.C., published a text discussing the importance of spinal manipulation. In one of his writings he stated, “Get knowledge of the spine, for this is the requisite for many diseases”.  Evidence of manual manipulation of the body has been found among the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Babylon, Syria, Japan, the Incas, Mayans and Native Americans.

Modern-day chiropractic began in 1895 when Daniel David Palmer, a self-educated teacher and healer, performed the first spinal manipulation on a patient.  Through spinal manipulation, he was able to restore the hearing of Harvey Lillard, a man who had been deaf for 17 years.  Two years later, in 1897, Dr. Palmer went on to begin the Palmer School of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa, which continues to train doctors of chiropractic.  Today, chiropractic is the third largest area of medicine, next to dentistry, and is the largest Complementary and Alternative Medicine health profession.

Chiropractors diagnose and treat disorders of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems.  They use traditional diagnostic testing methods (such as x-rays and MRIs) along with specific chiropractic techniques that involve manipulation of the joints of the body.  Chiropractors also offer nutrition and healthy lifestyle counseling.  Chiropractors elect not to prescribe medications, and they do not perform surgery; however, many chiropractors work closely with medical doctors and will refer a patient when necessary.

Chiropractors believe that all bodily functions are connected, and the healing process involves the entire body.  They also believe a healthy nervous system, particularly the spine, is the key to a healthy body.  The spinal cord carries information from the brain to the rest of the body.  Therefore, it is responsible for all bodily functions including voluntary movements and involuntary ones, such as breathing.  Disorders of the spine can affect how the body functions because these disorders affect this transfer of information.  Chiropractors also believe the body is self-maintaining and self-healing as long as it is functioning properly.  Currently as you sit here reading this post your heart is beating at a steady rate and controlling your blood pressure, your lungs are taking in enough oxygen to keep you awake, and your stomach is digesting that snack you just had without you having to think about it.  That’s because your body is a self-regulating machine.  Disease happens when something in your body prevents it from self-regulating.

Chiropractors believe there are 5 components to health.  The first component is a healthy diet.  In order to function properly, your body needs proper nutrition.  The second component is exercise.  In order to be strong and stable your muscles need to have exercise.  The third component is sleep.  Your body requires sleep in order to restore and regenerate.  The fourth component is a positive mental attitude or spiritual life.  They find time and time again that those people who are happier and who have a relationship with God are always healthier.  And the fifth component is a properly functioning nervous system.  You can have the best diet, exercise, rest and positive mental attitude, but if your nervous system is not working right, you cannot express health at 100%.  I’ll give you an example of what I’m talking about.  Take a 20 year old man who’s on a basketball court playing basketball with his friends and he falls over and dies from a heart attack.  Diet, he had, exercise he certainly had, positive mental attitude we’ll assume he had, and rest he had (what 20 year old doesn’t sleep well).  The only component we didn’t address was the nervous system.  A lot of times there is a re-entry problem in the heart.  It’s an electrical disturbance that is controlled by, you guessed it, the nervous system.  That’s just one example.  As a chiropractor I believe the nervous system is the most important factor.  I know this because you can eat as well as you can and have all of this in check, but without a properly functioning nervous system you won’t be able to fight off sickness, illness and disease.


Chiropractors Aren’t Really Doctors, Are They?

I was recently on a flight to Atlanta for a conference, and I started talking to the gentleman sitting next to me.  We had the usual small talk you make with the person sitting next to you on a flight:  where are you from; where are you going; are you traveling for fun or work.  When I told him that I was a chiropractor, I was surprised when he immediately asked me, “You know, I’ve always wondered, are you guys really doctors?”   I must admit my initial knee jerk reaction was to think, “I better be after 2 bachelor’s degrees and 10 semesters of Chiropractic College.”  Instead, I asked him, “Why do you ask?”  He responded, “Well, I know you guys don’t prescribe medication, so doesn’t that make you along the lines of a massage therapist or a physical therapist?”

Actually, I have to give this gentleman credit because he asked me a question that I’ll wager at least half of the new patients in my office are wondering as well.  If you come into this question with the presupposition that “real doctors” are only ones that prescribe medication and perform surgery, then I guess chiropractors wouldn’t fit into your definition of a “real doctor”.  However, from a legal perspective, a doctor or physician is someone who is licensed to diagnose and treat a condition.  By state and federal standards, chiropractors fall under that definition.  By state laws we are licensed to (and expected to) diagnose any patient that comes into our offices.  We need to be able to determine if that low back pain that you’re suffering from is something as simple as a pulled muscle or as complex as an abdominal aortic aneurysm or metastatic bone cancer.  All three of which, I’m sorry to say I’ve seen in my office.  This is also what makes us different from the massage therapists and physical therapists – they are not licensed to diagnose.

Now obviously I don’t treat every patient that comes into my office.  The patients with the aortic aneurysm and the bone cancer, I refer out – just like your primary care doctor would if you went into his office with the same problems.  But what makes chiropractors different from medical doctors is, what I believe, brings patients to us that aren’t getting better in the medical environment.  As chiropractors, we treat patients whose health is affected by the body’s muscular, nervous and skeletal systems.  Interference with these symptoms impairs your body’s normal functions and lowers its resistance to disease.  The chiropractic approach to health care stresses the patient’s overall well-being.  It recognizes that numerous factors affect health – including exercise, diet, rest, environment, and physical stress.  Chiropractors utilize natural, drugless, non-surgical health treatments and rely on the body’s inherent recuperative abilities.

The main form of chiropractic treatment is a chiropractic adjustment.  Nerves that connect your brain with every cell in your body exit the spinal cord through openings between each vertebrae of the spine.  If the spine is not functioning properly, interference is placed on those nerves.  This causes the nerves to send altered communications between your brain and the parts of the body those nerves innervate.  By restoring normal function to the spine, your body is able to heal itself naturally from illness and injury.

So for all of you out there who were wondering but were afraid to ask, chiropractors really are doctors.  We just may not fall into your pre-conceived idea of what a doctor is.