Chiropractors use manual or mechanical treatment techniques referred to as a chiropractic adjustment to change the health of their patients. Patients seek out chiropractors for many different health concerns. The most common health concerns are lower back pain, headaches, and neck pain. But what exactly do chiropractic adjustments do? How do they help? To answer those questions, a little background work is needed on how chiropractors view the human body.
The philosophy of chiropractic, as it pertains to how and why chiropractic adjustments are helpful, relies on the truth and understanding of the following statement: the human body is a self-regulating and self-healing organism. When we go outside in hot weather, we begin to sweat in order to cool down. When we go outside in cold weather, we shiver to warm up. If we catch a cold or are exposed to other diseases, our body’s immune system kicks into gear to fight off the infection. If we are injured in an accident, our body has a specific healing mechanism to repair the injuries. If we can accept this as true, then we have to also accept that sometimes things happen that inhibits our body’s ability to heal itself. We can get too hot or too cold. We can be injured to the extent that our body can not heal.
These forces of nature, such as hot weather, cold weather, disease, and injury can all be referred to as External Destructive Forces. These forces are constantly bombarding our bodies, and if our body did not have a way of adapting and reacting, we would soon succumb. The internal mechanisms by which our bodies adapt and change can be referred to as Internal Resistive Forces. As long as the Internal Resistive Forces are adequate to overcome the External Destructive Forces, then all is well. Two things can happen to disrupt this balance. The External Destructive Forces can be so extreme, as to pass beyond what our bodies have the capacity to adapt. For example, a person can easily die from exposure in extreme temperatures, especially without extra protection from proper clothing. The other way in which this balance can be disrupted is when our Internal Resistive Forces are weakened and no longer have the ability to adapt to normal everyday circumstances. There are several ways in which our bodies can be weakened, such as poor nutrition, lack of sleep, excessive mental stress, the presence of other diseases or injuries, and poor communication between our brain and the rest of the body.
The brain is the master control center that controls all of the subconscious adaptations that our bodies make throughout the day. The brain relies on the spinal cord as the communication line to the rest of the body. The spinal cord is so important that even the slightest injuries to the spinal cord can have drastic effects on the body. Much like the brain is protected by the skull, the spinal cord it is totally encased in a hard body shell, known as the spinal column or spine. Unfortunately, unlike the skull which serves but one purpose, to protect the brain, the spine also serves other purposes such as structure and movement. Because our spines are moveable and made up of many joints, both injury and time tend to take their toll. The spinal joints can lose their normal position or and they can lose their normal movement, and the cartilages and other joint tissues can deteriorate over time. The intensely close relationship between the spine and the spinal cord allows these changes in the spine to affect the spinal cord and nerve roots, thereby affecting the brain’s ability to communicate with that particular portion of the body. When t hat happens, the Internal Resistive Forces are no longer able to adapt or heal the body.
Chiropractors seek to use chiropractic adjustments to restore normal joint position and joint mobility, thereby eliminating the communication barrier that is occurring. The adjustments work through several mechanisms: they break up fibrous tissues that restrict joint motion, they reposition the bones and discs, they relieve pressure from the spinal cord and sensitive nerve roots, and they reset neurological receptors in the surrounding tissues. Once communication has been restored, the body is then allowed to do what it was designed to do, heal and maintain itself.
We do have to face one very real fact though; total and complete healing is not always possible. We have to take into account the limitations of matter. We can get a cut on our hand and heal with no problem, but if our hand is cut off, there is no way for our body to grow a new one. That is an extreme example, but the same thing occurs on a smaller scale all over our body. Sometimes the damage to the tissue is so great, that even with communication restored, there is no way for our body to complete the healing process on its own. When that happens, a person must seek outside help, or learn to adapt and live with the problem.
For more information, visit Meridian Chiropractic Clinic.
About the Author: Dr. Calvin Shanks is a chiropractor in Paducah, KY.