Chiropractic and You
Written by BY DR. DANIEL POMPA, PSc.D
Published: 22 December 2017
Chiropractic has been a therapeutic practice for over a century. The idea was originally proposed by Daniel David Palmer, a Canadian man who connected several overlapping branches of scientific study. Since then, the field has come a long way. Chiropractors can save lives. In addition to pain management, spinal adjustments have been linked to alleviating a plethora of diseases, from asthma to acid reflux.1 That is because your spine is the bridge that carries nerves down from the brain. When the spine is misaligned, those nerves cannot function properly, which can lead to pain, disease, and an overall lower quality of life.
If chiropractic has so many wonderful benefits, why has it not reached mainstream levels? That’s a bit of a complex question. We know that pharmaceutical companies love to treat symptoms over finding the root cause, but that is only part of the problem. Mostly, it’s because people just don’t understand what chiropractic really is, and what it isn’t. There are so many misconceptions about the practice that the medical community often doesn’t see it as any more than basic pain management.
But that’s not what I believe, and that’s not what I know from first-hand experience. Chiropractic can change the way people live for the better by helping to remove the interference to optimal health. If you’re reading this, I know you’re interested in living your healthiest, happiest life; so, let’s talk about why you should consider chiropractic.
The first misconception about chiropractic is that it is not based in science. It’s often called an alternative medicine, not “real medicine.” A lot of people live their lives viewing alternative medicine that way. The Australian comedian and skeptic Tim Minchin once said, “Do you know what they call alternative medicine that’s been proved to work? Medicine.” That’s a naive way to live. We know that the medical industry is motivated to keep their drug-heavy status quo intact, so even if it has scientific backing, methods like chiropractic often get left behind. But chiropractic does in fact have scientific backing. Studies have shown everything from instant muscle pain relief2 to lower blood pressure3 as results.
Another misconception is that chiropractic is only for pain relief. Don’t get me wrong, it does wonders for all sorts of pain; but if you wait until you can’t walk before you see a chiropractor, you’ve waited too long.
A lot of diseases and chronic pain stem from poor nerve flow. That means a nerve has become obstructed, and our joints or organs aren’t getting everything they need from the nervous system. Unfortunately, you only have a small chance of actually feeling pain. So you may be walking around damaging yourself on the inside without even knowing. That’s why it is important to not wait until you are in pain, but to be proactive and focus on prevention. Regular visits can keep help avoid many illnesses and chronic conditions.
The misconception that chiropractic care is a scheme that keeps patients coming back for life keeps people under the wrong impression, and I have to laugh when I hear this one. To me, that would be like saying getting a regular teeth cleaning and dental checkup makes dentistry a scam. That’s clearly not the case. Since many today have sedentary desk jobs, getting an adjustment should be a regular event. However, that’s not an option for everyone. Some people only want treatment for a specific injury, and they may find themselves relieved after two or three visits.
Other common hesitation and suspicion stems from a financial concern, but it’s unnecessary. Chiropractic has a reputation of being expensive, but most insurance plans cover some or all visits as preventative care. The fact that the industry has approval from the notoriously stingy insurance-world should say a lot. They know that regular spinal adjustments can help prevent serious medical cost down the line, whether spine or joint related, or internal, thus agreeing that chiropractic is cost effective.
When presented with what seems like a magic cure-all therapy, most of us question it. It seems too good to be true. Chiropractic is not a panacea. It doesn’t heal anything; your body heals itself via its innate intelligence. Your chiropractor just helps keep that body operating as it should by removing interference. When your nerve connection is interrupted, it’s difficult for your body to heal. Imagine trying to build muscle without protein. Just like your muscles need fuel, your entire body needs nerve signals.
Chiropractic and Disease
If chiropractic can help to fix more than pain, what else does it do? There is a whole host of conditions that can be lessened and addressed by regular chiropractic adjustments, including health issues wherein modern medicine typically only addresses the flares. One of those is asthma. I already mentioned that chiropractic can help lessen the symptoms of asthma, but let’s dive a little deeper. Asthma is a condition in which airways become inflamed and swollen, making breathing incredibly difficult. Generally, it is triggered by stress, whether physical, emotional, or even stress caused by chemical irritants. You are probably familiar with the term “asthma attack.” Well, unfortunately, those attacks are all that modern medicine knows how to treat currently.
Modern medicine’s mindset is to treat the symptoms. It doesn’t look further upstream to figure out why someone has asthma. Chiropractic, on the other hand, seeks to find the root cause of health conditions. One of the suspected causes of asthma is something called “forward head posture.” That means that your neck falls out of alignment, jutting your head in front of the rest of your body. Really, the only two ways to help fix this condition are chiropractic and spinal rehabilitation. Researchers have been studying it for nearly two decades. One of the earliest studies showed that, once rectified, nearly all of the subjects experienced better pulmonary function.4 As is a general theme with these studies, patients tend to come back after a year or two having maintained that progress. All it takes is an adjustment to the upper spine. Chiropractic goes to the source to help the body heal itself.
The next condition I’ll mention seems a little more obvious: Migraines. Yes, this could technically fall under pain management, but anyone who suffers from chronic migraines will tell you that it’s just not the same. While back pain can be just as debilitating, migraines cannot always be treated with the same pain killers. It takes very specific, and often harsh medications. Besides the fact that you do not want to be destroying your body with chemicals, it is better to find out the source of the headaches than to just seclude yourself in a dark room and take a bunch of pills. Studies have shown that migraines can be traced to minor spinal misalignment.5 Just as with asthma, that can often be addressed and prevented with chiropractic to remove the source of the issue.
Think about the last time you had a severe headache. Maybe you are lucky enough to have never suffered from a true migraine. If you have, you’ve possibly noticed it starting at the base of your neck, and slowly making its way up. This is due to a misalignment known as the Atlas Subluxation Complex, which essentially cuts off communication between the brain and the body. Not entirely of course, as that would kill you. But if you have noticed you’ve had a serious disruption in your mental capabilities during a migraine, that’s likely why.
Your spine does not suddenly misalign just before you get a headache. It is a chronic issue. If you have the subluxation, you are dealing with it day after day. We are lucky that it only comes in the form of a migraine every so often. Obviously, you are not going to want to drag yourself to the chiropractor every time you feel one coming, and I’m not suggesting that. It wouldn’t accomplish anything except shaking you up, and possibly ruining your doctor’s floor. If you suffer from migraines, you should get in for regular adjustments as preventive care. Have your chiropractor fix the subluxation before the headache hits, that way you may not have to take medication. Instead of damaging your body to fix a symptom, you are helping to remove the interference and allow your body to solve the underlying problem.
This is not how every migraine works. Issues can also stem from diet. If you know my work, you know how much I emphasize proper diet, along with diet variation and incorporating bouts of strategic fasting to getting amazing health results. But an underlying cause of many headaches is stress, and poor eating is one stress on the body. So, even if you do not have the Atlas Subluxation Complex, it could be caused by carrying stress somewhere else along the spine. A lot of people turn to massage therapy for relief. While massage therapy is an excellent alternative to modern medicine, it can still be missing a step in tracing the source. Yes, you’ll be relaxed after the massage, but if it comes from a spinal misalignment, it will often return. That’s why chiropractic is often the smarter choice. Medicine addresses the pain, massage therapy addresses the stress, and chiropractic addresses the root cause of the stress to let the body do the healing. Take it to the source.
The last condition I want to note, but certainly not the last on the list, is elevated blood pressure. I am sure a lot of people are surprised to hear that high blood pressure can be linked to the spine. Most of the time we think of the condition as a dietary issue, but it can actually be traced to the same area of the spine we have been discussing. That is not to say diet doesn’t have a huge impact, but studies have shown chiropractic care can help lower blood pressure levels by as much as 14 mm hg for systolic, and 8 mm hg for diastolic, without the aid of medication simply by reducing the stress on the body.6
Chiropractic is not a miracle pill. It’s likely not going to suddenly cure an incurable disease. It cannot alter your genetics to suddenly make you immune to migraines or elevated blood pressure. But why ignore the science? Even as the pharmaceutical industry tries to bury medicine-free therapies, studies have shown that regular adjustments can have tremendous benefits. Chiropractic gets to the source to remove the interference and allow the body to heal itself, as designed.
The best advice I can offer is to research your local chiropractors. You don’t want to visit a random practitioner and tell him to start cracking. Moreover, make sure you are seeing the same doctor. Chiropractors love what they do, and will seek to find a regimen that works for you. If you see whoever can fit you in, at irregular intervals, it is difficult to track progress. The biggest key to success with chiropractic care is consistency. This is preventative care, so consider it as soon as possible. Let’s work together to make a healthier world.
- Rubinstein SM, Leboeuf-Yde C, Knol DL, et al., “The Benefits Outweigh the Risks for Patients Undergoing Chiropractic Care for Neck Pain: A Prospective, Multicenter, Cohort Study,” Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, Vol. 30, No. 6, pp. 408-418 (July 2007), at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jmpt.2007.04.013.
- Hoiriis KT, Pfleger B, McDuffie FC, et al., “A Randomized Clinical Trial Comparing Chiropractic Adjustments to Muscle Relaxants for Subacute Low Back Pain,” Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, Vol. 27, No. 6, pp. 388-398 (July-August 2004), at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jmpt.2004.05.003.
- Tuchin PJ, Pollard H & Bonello R, “A randomized controlled trial of chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy for migraine,” Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, Vol. 23, No. 2, pp. 91-95 (Feb 2000), at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0161-4754(00)90073-3.
- Balon JW & Mior SA, “Chiropractic care in asthma and allergy,” Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, Suppl, Vol. 93, No. 2, pp. S55-S60 (Aug 2004), at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1081-1206(10)61487-1.
- Yates RG, Lamping DL, Abram NL & Wright C, “Effects of chiropractic treatment on blood pressure and anxiety: A randomized, controlled trial,”J Manipulative Physiol Ther, 11(6), 484; 1988.
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