Chiropractor or Magician
There is often a lot of confusion as to what chiropractors treat.
Public knowledge currently recognizes that chiropractors are able to treat headaches, migraines, low back pain, mid back pain, neck pain, sciatica and other musculoskeletal aches and pains. Anecdotally chiropractors are said to be able to do so much more. Once again the problem lies not just with those who are opposed to seeing a chiropractor for their healthcare needs but chiropractors themselves. So what’s the deal?
First, if your chiropractor says he can “cure” anything, you may have a problem, but are they really wrong? According to dictionary.com
1. A means of healing or restoring to health; remedy.
2. A method or course of remedial treatment, as for disease.
3. Successful remedial treatment; restoration to health.
Most people misunderstand the “disease” part of the definition of cure. It’s certainly obvious that a chiropractor can help you with the restoration of health when it comes to your neck pain, back pain, headaches, sciatica etc. Clearly, chiropractic can “cure” a number of neuromusculoskeletal “diseases” that CAUSE neck pain, headaches, migraines, low back pain, mid back pain, sciatica. But what is a “disease”? Again back to dictionary.com
1. A disordered or incorrectly functioning organ, part, structure, or system of the body resulting from the effect of genetic or developmental errors, infections, poisons, nutritional deficiency or imbalance, toxicity or unfavorable environmental factors; illness; sickness; ailment.
A chiropractor does not and should not treat any “disease” with chiropractic treatment aside from the disease of an abnormal shift in the spine. The most well know description of this is called subluxation. Scoliosis, Anterior Head Syndrome, aka forward head posture, text neck, goose neck etc. are all diseases that fall under subluxation umbrella. They are all essentially abnormal shifts in the structure of the spine.
Here’s where it gets tricky.
The disease or abnormal shift in the spine can have a myriad of other SECONDARY CONDITIONS that are expressed as a result of the PRIMARY CONDITION that is a disease or abnormal shift in the spine. Call it subluxation, scoliosis, misalignment or whatever, it is abnormal and it fits under the definition of “disease”. The ONLY disease that a chiropractor should treat with chiropractic is an abnormal shift in the spine.
What happens is that this disease process can affect your nervous system. This is a FACT. It’s not a theory or a hypothesis, it’s fact, and honestly, should be common sense for anyone who has studied anatomy or physiology in any capacity. The spine protects the nervous system which controls EVERY function of the human body so there are a lot of things that can go wrong if the structure shifts outside of the ideal norm. Remember the spine PROTECTS the spinal cord and if it is in a diseased (abnormal shift away from normal) state it is logical to assume that it will not be able to do its job (protecting the spinal cord) correctly.
The spine is not just a foundation for all the muscle and tendons to attach to.
It is that, but not JUST that. The bones in your spine do a lot more than just act as a frame. They are designed to house and protect the spinal cord in a state that allows it to send and receive messages to every cell in the human body without interference. That doesn’t mean that they are just a shell either. The spine is designed with a specific structural ideal. This ideal structure, straight from the front and specific curves when looking from the side, houses the spinal cord in a position that prevents chronic stress or strain.
If your spine is in an abnormal position, the muscles will then be unbalanced. They may be stretched and taut beyond their intended length. If you lose the curve in your neck and your head is now sitting forward from where is should be, that is going to put a lot of stress and strain on the muscles in your neck. The same is true of you spinal cord. Clearly, both the muscle in your neck and the spinal cord in your neck are soft tissue organs than were made to move freely and stretch to a certain degree. Moving your head forward an inch or two will not tear the muscles in your neck or your spinal cord BUT if it is there for extended periods of time because you will have problems.
Think of it like this.
If I put a thumb on your shoulder and gently press into the muscle it won’t, or shouldn’t, hurt. Keep in mind I’m just pushing maybe five pounds of pressure. It’s barely anything but if I leave it there for a few days you’re going to have some serious problems. First, it will likely hurt but even worse is that that small amount of pressure, over a long period of time, will likely cause the blood flow in that area to be reduced enough to potential kill some of the tissue cells in that area!
Think of the example of how to boil a frog. You don’t just throw him in boiling water. He’ll jump right out. He instantly knows that there is something wrong. People are the same way. If I experience a gunshot wound or get whiplash from a major auto accident, I know something is wrong because I can feel it immediately. However, if my posture changes slowly and incrementally over time, I may not realize the problem.
This brings me back to the disease of an abnormally shifted spine.
It often does not happen right away. It can slowly stretch and ultimately interfere with the proper function of the muscles or nerves. As a result, the secondary conditions can be very surprising. This is why it’s so common to hear anecdotal evidence of a chiropractor “curing” stomach problems, infertility, allergies, asthma and many other problems with internal organs. Often the secondary condition itself, like asthma is labeled as a disease. The reality is that the disease causing the secondary condition of asthma could, in fact, be related to stress on the nervous system. Certainly, that is not the only potential primary condition affecting that organ but it can be one.
The trouble is when a chiropractor makes the erroneous claim that chiropractic can “cure” asthma. NO, they do not. A chiropractor can and should cure abnormal shifts in the spine. If that abnormal shift expressed itself by causing poor lung function or any other function of any other organ, then so be it. This is where chiropractors get into trouble when they make what seem to be “magical” claims about chiropractic care curing something other than abnormal spinal shift. It’s often the chiropractor being lazy or potentially arrogant in his explanation of why the patient is not longer experience organ related symptoms that were secondary to the abnormal spinal shift.
More research to better understand how the spine affects the nervous system is certainly something that would be helpful. In the meantime, however, let’s not ignore the facts. The foundation of human anatomy, the nervous system, is the “Master System” that controls all functions of the human body and the spine protects and maintains the nervous system so that it can function without correctly and when the spine is in a diseased state as a result of an abnormal shift in the structure of the spine, it can then cause secondary condition due to the nervous system not being able to function 100% correctly.
Let’s use common sense when it comes to anatomy and call your local Greenville, NC chiropractor to make sure you take care of abnormal spinal shifts. It’s safe and effective and a great way to make sure that the foundation of your health (your nervous system) is less likely to be negatively affected.
Call chiropractor Dr. Bret Wickstrom for a consultation at Corrective Chiropractic in Greenville, NC.