This blog post accompanies the Evolve Wellness Experience Podcast Episode #6.
Did you know that chiropractic is one of the fastest growing medical professions? There are more than 100,000 chiropractors worldwide in over 60 countries, and for good reason. Still, many people aren’t aware of all the benefits of chiropractic, so for our next podcast episode, Dr. Bill dug into the truth – and the misconceptions – or chiropractic.
Chiropractic outperforms other modalities for the treatment of low back and other back or neck pain, but don’t make the mistake of thinking those are the only reasons to see a chiropractor. The spine has a surprising effect on many different areas of health, and a qualified chiropractor may be able to help you with a wide range of health challenges.
Let’s go through a few of the biggest truths and misconceptions about chiropractic care.
Why is the spine so important to overall health?
The spine has several purposes. One is to protect the spinal cord. But there is also a lot of activity in the spinal column, with signals traveling to the brain. The brain processes these signals and sends other signals back down the spinal column, where they are distributed to various parts of the body. We interpret our environment and live our life through this nervous system. There is not a single body process you can perform without neural input.
One thing I like to tell patients is to think of your spinal column like a highway. It’s just like when you’re driving down I-95 here in Florida and you’re running north and south—neural pathways going up to the brain and running back from it to the organs and cells. We know 80% of the information that your brain receives from organ cells and tissues comes from neurons in and around your spinal column. For every 40 fibers going into your brain, you only have one coming out.
So back to our highway scenario. That’s like if you have 40 lanes going northbound, and only one going southbound. What does that tell us? It tells us it’s way more important what your brain gets than the output it gives. You’d think it was the other way around, right? Your brain controls your heart, lungs, all your vital organs. But that demonstrates the importance of the input your brain is getting from your body, and 80% of that is from your spine. So if your brain is getting bad input from a difficulty in your spine, how can it perform correctly?
What wears the spine down?
This comes down to three things.
Physical—we sit, we walk, we do sports or exercise, we get in car accidents or have other traumas.
Stress—uncontrolled emotional or mental stress can cause all sorts of physical problems, from heart attacks to ulcers, and can affect the spine as well.
Chemical—this is usually what you eat or are exposed to in your environment, like lifestyle habits, smoking, drinking, tobacco, hazardous pollutants or fumes, etc.
As we’re exposed to any of these three stresses, tension can build up in the spine. This can first restrict motion, then later it can even cause damage. Remember how the spine gets 80% of its input to the brain? One way is through movement. Certain muscles in and around the spine are just sensory—all they do is tell the brain where they are in space and how they’re moving. They also carry vital nerve root messages from cells and tissues in the body.
What is “subluxation”?
This is a subject of some controversy. Many medical practitioners say “subluxation” doesn’t exist. Traditionally, subluxation occurs when there is decreased nerve input due to a pinched nerve leading to an organ. This can happen, but it is very rare—happening less than 5% of the patients we see.
But things have changed over the years. As a matter of medical practice, we now understand that due to tension building in or around the spine, movement is restricted in that segment of the spine. As a result, your muscles can’t expand and contract appropriately, and this creates a blind spot for your brain. The brain will then guess, and sometimes it guesses wrong. Have you ever bent over to pick something up and suddenly your back spasmed? That’s the brain guessing wrong.
So, subluxation we know does occur, and it occurs in sometimes more subtle ways than we previously thought.
So what happens if you experience this kind of sharp, unnerving pain?
If you go to your general practitioner or family doctor, they will probably prescribe muscle relaxers or other medications that are designed to mask the pain to make it “go away”. Unfortunately, the chances of this happening again are good, because you didn’t solve the underlying problem.
However, a good chiropractor’s goal is to solve the issue for good. We will probably apply heat, adjust the spine, and may sometimes prescribe additional therapies like acupuncture or massage therapy, if needed. As the spine is adjusted, that communication is restored, and your brain can send and receive signals correctly again.
Stay safe out there, everyone, and don’t forget – we are always offering valuable introduction packages and specials at one of our two locations in Port St. Lucie. Whether you are seeking chiropractic care for an injury or ongoing wellness, post-op physical therapy, relaxing massages, or innovative mind-body wellness services and products, you can get started with us for low introductory specials and rates. Click here to learn more!
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