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Chiropractic Care

by Dr. Elizabeth Langer

Chiropractic care focuses on the health of the spine and its surrounding tissues by facilitating nerve conduction and circulation. This is accomplished by a corrective procedure called an adjustment. The purpose of an adjustment is to provide maximum nerve conduction and circulation, proper alignment, range of motion, and increase optimal function. Chiropractic care uses no drugs and may or may not incorporate different therapies such as ultrasound or electrical stimulation.

Different Adjustment Techniques

There are many different ways an adjustment can be performed, and each chiropractor possesses their own, unique style. One common method is "diversified," or the osseous adjustment. Osseous adjustments are most commonly associated with chiropractic care, because they produce the "cracking" sound, or cavitation. A cavitation is the sound produced when trapped gas leaves a joint. Osseous adjustments take a joint to end-range and deliver a high-velocity/low-amplitude thrust. Though osseous adjustments may sound rough, they can be very gentle and relief is often felt immediately.

Another popular adjustment method uses an activator. An activator is a spring-loaded instrument that delivers an impulse to a vertebra or other joint, and stimulates nerve conduction. Though osseous adjustments are perfectly safe, an activator can be more gentle because there is no stress on the joints, discs, blood vessels, or bones. Activators are often used with patients with osteoporosis, extremely high blood pressure, or are recovering from a stroke or surgery. Some patients prefer activator activator adjustments simply because they are more comfortable, or they don't like the sound that the cavitation produces. 

A drop table is another tool that chiropractors use for adjusting. Drop tables are specialized chiropractic tables that allow for adjustments to be lighter and more specific. The table has sections that elevate with a lever. Patients are positioned on the table and the chiropractor administers a light thrust to the joint. The speed of the table absorbs the impact of the force. Adjusting with drop tables work well for people with recent surgeries and disc problems. Flexible patients may drop table adjustments more comfortable than osseous adjustments.

Muscle Work is an Important Part of Treatment

Strictly speaking, an adjustment is not when a chiropractor works on your muscle tissue. However, because muscles are attached to bones (i.e. vertebra), healing the surrounding muscular tissue is an important part of treatment.

When the muscles are loosened and the "knots" are worked out, adjustments are more effective, gentle, and specific. Sometimes the work performed on the muscle tissue can be more intense than the actual adjustment. However, muscles recover faster than joints and the less stress the joints have to bare, the more comfortable the adjustment.

Sometimes muscles are contracted for so long, it is difficult for them to stay relaxed. They must then be re-educated so they learn not to "tighten up." This neuromuscular education allows the adjustments to hold for longer periods of time and achieves faster results.

Conditions Treated by Chiropractic Medicine

Chiropractic care is highly effective for relieving back and neck pain, but also treats a variety of ailments. It works with traumas due to sports-related injuries and motor vehicle accidents (whiplash). Chiropractic relieves headaches due to both tension and migraines and can also relieve symptoms of vertigo. It is also a very effective means used to manage disc herniations, stenosis, and neuropathy.

Receiving chiropractic adjustments may also benefit internal conditions. Because the nerves and blood vessels are affected, chiropractic can strengthen the immune system and improve digestion and respiration. Adjustments can break up mucus, relieve cough and congestion, and reduce asthma and allergy system.

Chiropractic medicine can also relieve gynecological complaints. By realigning the vertebrae and working with muscle tissue, the pain and discomfort associated with menstruation can be significantly reduced. Pregnant women also find relief from the physiological changes which affect posture, spinal alignment, and fluid distribution (i.e. swollen ankles). The Webster Technique is a specialized form of adjusting that assists in turning a baby in utero from a breech position into a healthy one.

How many times do I have to get treated?

Treatment duration vary upon individual needs. Some people need to be treated every four to six weeks, while others may require once a week. New patients and acute injuries may receive treatments close together for the first week until adequate progress has been made. Chronic conditions, such as neuropathy, may require more treatments before relief is felt. 

It has been said that chiropractic medicine is both an art and a science. Though styles and procedures may vary from doctor to doctor, the positive impact that it can have on the body is amazing.  Contact us today to find if chiropractic is right for you!