Many patients think chiropractic is magic and that if they don’t feel better after one treatment, it didn’t work. Well just like Physical Therapy or Antibiotics, one time won’t help. Most patients complain about injuries or problems that have existed for years.
Your body has adapted and to make a positive difference in your health will take time. Unless your chiropractor has a long beard, robe, a magic wand and goes by the name Dumbledore, you can’t expect miracles. However chiropractic can be a very effective solution for many common aches and pains if you give it a chance.
Let’s look at the whole science, education and approach of this type of healthcare. This profession offers patients the opportunity to treat many conditions as well as help maintain patient’s health. Some people think working on the back is a new concept, but it has been mentioned in old literature books and found on cave drawings across the world. Chiropractic is derived from the Greek word Chiropraktikos, which means effective treatment done by hand.
Chiropractic is the science of treating ailments by manipulations or adjustments of articular structures (bones) of the spine, skeleton and soft tissues. The majority of cases involve musculoskeletal conditions like headaches, neck and back pain, whiplash and sciatica.
This conservative and noninvasive approach is based on the scientific fact that your brain controls the proper function of your entire body via the nervous system. For example, if the wrong messages are being sent to your organs, skin or muscles, then they will cause problems and work improperly.
Think of your brain as the fuse box to your house. Lots of wires exit and carry electrical information to many different rooms in your house (areas in your body). If you can’t get a light to work in a room, it could be the switch, the outlet, the bulb or maybe the electrical information being supplied to that area has been interrupted. That can occur in your body when there is pressure on a nerve blocking signals within the body.
I just experienced this when my can opener suddenly didn’t work. I checked and decided it had served its purpose and it was time for a new one. So I purchased a new one and it didn’t work either. Then I noticed nothing attached to the four outlets was working. I thought maybe a wire was bad and I might have to replace the outlet. Then I realized I had messed with the fuse box and accidentally clicked the wrong one two days earlier. One click and the old can opener still worked like a champ.
Doctors of Chiropractic, (D.C.), specialize in this form of healthcare, which focuses on maintaining the balance of your muscles and nerves, the posture of your spine, along with eating right, regular exercise, proper rest and positive thinking to keep your body functioning at its best.
With more and more patients requesting alternatives to drugs and the surmounting research proving chiropractic’s effectiveness and safety, chiropractic is becoming more widely accepted. Chiropractic physicians can now be found working alongside Medical Doctors of all types. They are even being introduced into the hospital setting and utilized alongside the medical staff of most professional and college sports teams.
These doctors understand that your body goes through tremendous stresses each day from things like lifting, kids, accidents, chores, falls, sports injuries and sleeping wrong. All of these factors can affect your spine and the muscles attached to it. By properly caring for the spine’s health it can help decrease the wear and tear on your body, much like taking your car in for a tune up. Typical patients are of all ages and various health conditions.
Currently only around 10 percent of the population receives spinal care, but I’m pretty sure 98 percent of the population has a spine, excluding politicians. Maintaining the balance between your spine and the muscles is equivalent to caring for your teeth, or your car, on a regular basis to prevent major problems. The difference is you can’t see spinal problems like you can tartar or a chipped tooth, which are swiftly brought to your dentist’s attention.
Unfortunately people usually ignore their symptoms from their bodies signaling something is wrong, allow the problem to exist too long, cover up their pain with drugs, or continue to believe they will get better on their own. No matter what the excuse is, the spine is being neglected. It’s like fixing a small spot of rust before the rust engulfs your car. Covering it with fresh paint won’t solve the problem it just masks it. The longer we let health problems exist or accumulate the harder they are to reverse or heal correctly.
There are several colleges teaching this specialty. Some colleges require four year degrees prerequisite for acceptance, while others a two-year degree. The Doctorate program for Chiropractic is equivalent to five years of study. It requires completion of over 4,600 hours of class lecture, lab and patient contact with the majority of hours being concentrated in Anatomy, Diagnosis, Neurology and Radiology.
During school, students are required to pass four stringent National Board Exams to practice. Then there are Continuing Education requirements to ensure DC’s continued learning and proficiency.
Upon your first chiropractic appointment you can expect to receive a thorough, physical exam, orthopedic exam, neurological tests and maybe laboratory analysis, x-rays or MRIs if needed. The Chiropractor is capable of determining if someone should be a chiropractic patient or if they should be referred to other healthcare professionals.
After careful analysis, the doctor may use modalities like heat, ice, massage or electric stimulation before he or she makes an adjustment to correct a spinal problem. Adjusting is done by placing his or her hands on the patient in a precise way and applying a gentle force to correct the specific location of vertebral joint dysfunction. The body may make a popping noise as correction is made. The noise is merely gas escaping from the joints, like when people pop their knuckles. The body then reabsorbs these gases.
You release body tension, endorphins or your body’s own natural pain reliever, and nerve information throughout your body. After treatment, some patients can experience instant relief while others may notice soreness due to the stretching of muscles and correction of mechanical dysfunction; much like wearing orthodontic braces or exercising for the first time.
Some people crack their own back or friend’s backs. This is not advised as you wouldn’t have a mechanic do your taxes or have a butcher fix your teeth. “He who adjusts his own spine has a fool for a chiropractor.” Never have an uneducated person touch your spine. You don’t watch a surgery on TV and then decide to perform one on your child do you?
It might seem like a minor ache but only a doctor is able to determine the right course of action. There are many cases of simple pains like spinal misalignment or pathologies like Cancer that if an uneducated person thought “cracking it” would help, they would actually cause more harm or permanently injure that person. There are actually people who go to school to understand the physiology, neurology, anatomy and musculature of the body and know what is needed to be done, or not done as the case may be, so a patient will actually benefit from care. They are called Doctors.
The orthodontist can’t squeeze your teeth together with braces for a week or two and expect them to stay put. When you are trying to make a permanent change in a body part that has become well-established, it will take time. Your chiropractic doctor needs time to retrain your body in terms of the bones and muscles so they function properly. They also have to determine which strategies will work best for you as no two patients respond the same.
A well-established problem is like realizing you have gained a bunch of weight and finally you have admitted there is a problem and need to do something about it. The weight didn’t come on over night and it isn’t going to be gone like that either. Now it is going to take time to lose it and retrain your body on how to eat properly. Eating sensibly one day or having one chiropractic treatment will not solve your problem.
Dieting and exercising for two weeks isn’t going to do it either. It takes longer than that to correct your weight problem. The first pounds come off fast but the last five take more time to complete the process and achieve your goal. Spinal correction will also take time because ligaments, tendons and the vertebrae will have firmly adapted to an improper position. Be a “patient,” patient.
If the chiropractic doctor can’t help you or after a reasonable trial period the patient’s condition hasn’t changed enough, they will refer you out. This will be whoever they think is the next most appropriate person to help you get relief, such as; an orthopedic or neurosurgeon, a physical therapist, a massage therapist, acupuncturist, etc., if needed. More advanced blood tests and diagnostic films may also be requested.
Either way, Doctors of Chiropractic encourage working relations with other healthcare specialist for a team approach to your health. Something I like to call, “Modern Medicine.” No one profession can do it all. Next time you suffer from a headache, whiplash or low back pain, maybe it’s time to call the chiropractor and see if they can get you straight.
These topics come from my book, “Back At Your Best; Balancing the Demands of Life With the Needs of Your Body.” It is available in book and Kindle format at Amazon, www.BAYBBook.com and at my office.
If you have any personal health concerns or questions, feel free to email me at DrJay@BackAtYourBest.com. I will answer them in private or in this section in a week or two.
Dr. Jay M. Lipoff is the owner of Back At Your Best Chiropractic & Physical Therapy, LLC, which is located in the Wildewood Shopping Center. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from Syracuse University in 1990, a Doctorate of Chiropractic (D.C.) from New York Chiropractic College (NYCC) in 1994 and he became a Certified Fitness Trainer (CFT) in 2005.
Dr. Lipoff is an Executive Board Member, International Chiropractic Association Council on Fitness and Sports Health Science; has a radio segment: Back At Your Best in 5 Minutes or Less, Co-Founder, Drug Free Training USA; Member, NY Strength-promoting the importance of physical conditioning; Board Member of Public Relations Committee, Maryland Chiropractic Association; President, Wildewood Business Network-promoting better business relations and community outreach.
* DISCLAIMER: THIS ADVICE AND ANY OPINIONS MENTIONED ARE THAT OF DR. JAY LIPOFF AND NOT OF THE BAYNET.