Chiropractic is a health care profession that focuses on musculoskeletal and nervous system disorders, how they relate to each other and what effect it has on the STRUCTURE (spine and extremities) and FUNCTION (nervous sytem) of the body. The nervous system coordinates many aspects of our functional daily activities (sitting, walking, lifting etc.). When we alter the way we perform these daily activities, either to feel less pain or to compensate for weakness in certain areas of the body in order to lift an object from point A to point B, it puts a significant increase in stress on our structure (joints, discs of the spine, muscles etc.), which over time, leads to conditions such as arthritis, disc herniations, carpal tunnel, headaches and more. The reverse also holds true. Adopting an altered structure such as posture will affect function as well. A doctor of chiropractic will perform a thorough clinical examination in order to determine what is not functioning properly and then look to correct or restore this by using the best course of evidence based care possible. The modern day chiropractor will also address changes in the fascial tissues and how this too affects structure and function. Chiropractic realizes that there are multiple systems functioning at once, each dependent on the other to keep our body healthy and in a state of homeostasis. This is why when taking your health care needs into account, we must and do address your body as a whole system in order to have you achieve your optimal health.
Joint anatomy and physiology:
Since we were kids we have all heard the song, “The Hip Bone Connected to the Thigh Bone”, but how are they connected? Generally, every joint in our body has the same properties. In it’s simplicity, they consist of two bones end to end that never really touch each other. They are separated by connective tissue, held in place by ligaments, moved by muscle and controlled/monitored by nerves in and around the joint that relay signals to the brain (nervous system) on position, motion, pain etc.
How the body protects itself:
The body has an inherent ability to protect itself from harm, much like a mother instinctively protects her child from danger. Compared to the other functions of the body, this method however is somewhat primitive. By this point, we already know that the joints have nerves in and around it that relays information from the spinal cord to the brain. Where motion is altered or reduced, nerves tend to relay inaccurate or insufficient information of the joint back to the brain. This happens during acute/chronic trauma or during overuse injuries, leading to joint dysfunction and the perception of pain.
As pain increases, the nerve creates a reflex response signaling the muscles in the surrounding area to tighten up or go into spasm to limit and help protect the joint from further injury. This reflex is called the “guarding reflex”. If joint and tissue integrity is not restored, the nerves continue to send pain signals to the brain which will lead to chronic pain syndrome or what is more medically termed as Central Sensitization. This typically leads to a more unfavourable cascade of events.
Why a Chiropractic Adjustment/Manipulation works:
A chiropractic adjustment is a gentle, controlled procedure that is used to correct an improperly moving joint by slightly opening it and restoring proper joint mechanics, thereby removing irritation on the nerves, blocking pain and reducing muscle spasm in the surrounding area. Motion produced by the manipulation of a joint actually serves to “block” continuous pain signals (much like when you rub your knee after bumping it into the corner of a coffee table, the stimulus of rubbing the injured area temporary blocks the pain). It also serves to restore proper joint mechanics thereby preventing or reducing early arthritis altogether as seen by Wolff’s Law.
Chiropractic Techniques commonly used:
No two patients are the same therefore the Chiropractic techniques selected will be specific to the needs of the individual. This will depend on a number of factors such as what they’re complaining, their age, level of comfort, level of activity, how long they have had it and their past medical history to name a few. Here is a list of techniques Dr. George commonly uses in his practice:
- Thompson Drop
- Sacro-Occipital Technique
- Lower Extremity Adjusting
- Upper Extremity Adjusting
- Active Release Techniques
- Medical Acupuncture
- Core Strengthening
- Gentle Mobilization