Monday, November 24, 2014

Who Should See a Chiropractor?

In today's day and age you can find chiropractic doctors in almost every city and town across the United States. The benefits of our practice can be experienced in every age demographic, societal bracket, gender and race. A core belief that a prescription cannot solve deep rooted health concerns, coupled with a naturalistic approach to healing and preventative care, enable doctors of chiropractic to have maximum impact on their patients overall health and success.

There are many readers out there that may not be as familiar with the practice and this article aims to fill in a basic understanding of what chiropractic doctors do.

Doctors of chiropractic are educated as primary-contact health care providers, with an emphasis on diagnosis and treatment of conditions related to the musculoskeletal system (the muscles, ligaments and joints of the spine and extremities) and the nerves that supply them. Educational requirements for doctors of chiropractic are among the most stringent of any of the health care professions. Typically, upon entering chiropractic school, applicants have already completed a bachelor degree with specialties in biology, chemistry, physics and psychology. Another four to five years of chiropractic study will be required before becoming licensed to practice.

The chiropractic adjustment (sometimes referred to as manipulation) is a manual procedure that utilizes the highly refined skills developed during the doctor of chiropractic's intensive years of chiropractic education. The chiropractic physician typically uses his or her hands--or like in my own practice, a gentle, small instrument--to bring alignment to the joints and bones of the body, particularly the spine, in order to restore or enhance joint function. This often helps resolve joint inflammation and reduces the patient's pain. Chiropractic manipulation is a highly controlled procedure that rarely causes discomfort. The doctor will adapt the procedure to meet the specific needs of each patient. Patients will often notice positive changes in their symptoms immediately following treatment.

Chiropractic care is widely recognized as one of the safest drug-free, non-invasive therapies available for the treatment of neuromusculoskeletal complaints. I have been asked by potential patients if there are risks or side-effects of chiropractic adjustments, and I assure them that the risks associated with chiropractic are very small. Many patients feel immediate relief following chiropractic treatment, but some may experience mild soreness, stiffness or aching, just as they do after some forms of exercise. Typically, that minor discomfort or soreness following spinal manipulation typically fades within 24 hours. When comparing the safety and side-effects of chiropractic care, it is important to note the risks associated with some of the most common treatments for musculoskeletal pain. Over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) and prescription painkillers are two examples, as these treatments may carry risks significantly greater than those of chiropractic manipulation. Here are some interesting facts to consider:

According to the American Journal of Gastroenterology, people taking NSAIDS are three times more likely than those who do not to develop serious adverse gastrointestinal problems such as hemorrage (bleeding) and perforation. That risk rises to more than five times in people age 60 and older. Regular use of NSAIDS results in about 200,000 to 400,000 hospitalizations per year. Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that abuse of common prescription painkillers (such as oxycodone and hydrocodone) are among the leading causes of accidental death in the United States.

The natural approach to healthcare by Chiropractors seeks first to resolve health concerns and improve the body's ability to function without dangerous and sometimes toxic effects of over-the-counter drugs and prescription medications/painkillers.

Doctors of Chiropractic are especially well known for their expertise in caring for patients with back pain, neck pain and headaches. But you may not know that we care for patients with a wide range of injuries and disorders of the musculoskeletal system involving the muscles, ligaments and joints. These painful conditions often involve or impact the nervous system. The nervous system needs open lines of communication for the brain to communicate with the rest of the body systems and organ. The benefits of chiropractic care extend to general health issues as well, since our body structure affects our overall function. In my practice, along with many of my counterparts, I also counsel patients on diet, nutrition, exercise, healthy habits, and occupational and lifestyle modification.

Chiropractic adjustments are not only for adults. Infants, toddlers and teens can also benefit from properly alignment of the spine. I have had the opportunity to work with many young patients, my youngest being a week old! (In case you were wondering - my oldest patient to date is 90 years young). The incredible amounts of pressure that the child encounters during birth cause their first subluxation (misalignment) which can be easily corrected by gentle realignment of the spine. Setting the proper foundation for optimum spinal and nervous system growth enables the body to act as close to 100% functioning as possible starting at the earliest age.

Lastly, I often hear the misconception that once you begin chiropractic care, you must continue frequently visiting to maintain progress. Many patients chose to continue their chiropractic care beyond the initial reasons that first brought them into the office. The benefits of preventative maintenance and preventative care become apparent to most patients, and many of mine will visit (optionally) as often as once or twice a week. It should also be noted that many patients visit a chiropractor for pain or discomfort that has been happening for an extended period of time. The patients I see have usually exhausted many common medical responses and treatments. The extended amount of time that has gone by with a patient's spinal misalignment in place will not always be corrected permanently after the first adjustment. When it took your body a long time to become the way it currently is, it can take awhile to correct it! The spine can require frequent adjusting at the early and mid-stages of treatment to be effective and long-standing. It's similar to the concept of workout out at the gym... you don't go to the gym once or twice and look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. You have to train the body.

If you're seeking a natural, safe, and effective method of care to resolve your health concerns (or if you feel well, to improve your body's ability to function and prevent future problems) please visit a chiropractor today!

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