The integration of alternative medicine into conventional western medicine is quickly revolutionizing the landscape of the American healthcare system. Patients and providers are increasingly using alternative methods of care that do not rely on invasive procedures or long term use of pharmaceuticals.
What do Chiropractors Do for Us?
Doctors of Chiropractic – often referred to as chiropractors or chiropractic physicians – practice a drug-free, hands-on approach to health care that includes patient examination, diagnosis and treatment. Chiropractors have broad diagnostic skills and are also trained to recommend therapeutic and rehabilitative exercises, as well as to provide nutritional, dietary and lifestyle counseling.
The most common therapeutic procedure performed by doctors of chiropractic is known as “spinal manipulation,” also called “chiropractic adjustment.” The purpose of manipulation is to restore joint mobility by manually applying a controlled force into joints that have become hypomobile – or restricted in their movement – as a result of a tissue injury. Tissue injury can be caused by a single traumatic event, such as improper lifting of a heavy object, or through repetitive stresses, such as sitting in an awkward position with poor spinal posture for an extended period of time. In either case, injured tissues undergo physical and chemical changes that can cause inflammation, pain, and diminished function for the sufferer. Manipulation, or adjustment of the affected joint and tissues, restores mobility, thereby alleviating pain and muscle tightness, and allowing tissues to heal.(1)
Watch this short presentation about chiropractic care (click here)
Why are nerves so important?
When doing research for our wellness program, I met with Dr. Scott Moore and Dr. Kallie Moore in Olympia, WA. The further described to me how chiropractic medicine worked with nerves throughout a person’s entire body. They described how chiropractic medicine works with muscles, tissue, nerves, and joints throughout the entire body.(6)
Our bodies are composed of trillions of cells that make up each of our different parts. The function, coordination, and regulation of these parts are all accomplished by a continuous flow of healthy signals though all of the different nerves in our body which make up the nervous system. Thus the nervous system helps to coordinate and control every action our bodies perform.(2)
Dr. Scott Moore gave me an analogy to help me understand the importance of our nervous system in regards to our health. He told me a story of a garden hose. If you kink the hose and stop the flow of water, the plants at the other end will eventually wither and die. The nervous system in our body is similar to the garden hose. It carries messages to all parts of our body. If there is an impingement to the nerve, then the muscle, joint, or organ (kidney, heart, lungs, liver etc.) that is being fed information through the nerve can also wither and eventually die.
See graphically how the nerves are intertwined throughout the body in these two interactive graphs.
Human Spine Vertebra & Disk
When a nerve exits the spine, it can become pressed between two bones or compressed by an unhealthy disc resulting in numbness and tingling in other parts of the body. The area where you experience these symptoms is indicative of where in the spine the “pinching” occurs. Nerve irritation in the neck often leads to symptoms in the shoulders, arms or hands. Similar problems in the low back can cause numbness and tingling down the legs and into the feet.(4)
Treatment for Pinched Nerves
Nerve irritation related to joint dysfunction or bone malposition is best corrected using chiropractic adjustments. By using carefully directed and controlled pressure to restore joints to a normal position and motion, the pressure placed on the nerve is quickly and painlessly reduced. This often results in immediate (sometimes dramatic) pain relief.(4)
Nerves can also become irritated as they pass through muscles on their way toward their destinations. This is often referred to as a peripheral nerve entrapment. To allow smooth passage through muscle tissue that is always expanding and contracting, slippery sheaths guide the way for the nerves to pass through the muscle. They function in a capacity very similar to subway tunnels protecting trains as they are transported underground. When damage occurs to these nerves and their protective sheaths, scar tissue is laid down to repair the damage. Unfortunately, this leads to adhesions forming between the sheath and the nerve. This explains why numbness and tingling symptoms are often exacerbated by certain movements or with small, repetitive motions.(4)
How Can a Nerve Become “Trapped” Within the Soft-Tissues?
Repetitive “rubbing” of sensitive soft-tissues or chronic contraction of a damaged muscle can lead to a cascade of progressive worsening. Both situations deprive the soft-tissue of much-needed oxygen due to the decreased “pumping” that occurs with healthy, full contraction and relaxation. This lack of oxygen triggers fibroblastic activity – the primary mechanism involved in the formation of scar tissue (fibrous tissue). Unfortunately, as more fibrous tissue is created, muscle oxygenation, flexibility and strength are further reduced. This process continues until function is degraded enough to create noticeable symptoms. In other words, repetitive motion injuries and cumulative trauma disorders could develop over moths, years or, even, decades before the first symptom is ever experienced!As the condition progresses, the “stickiness” of the soft tissues can extend into the spaces between these tissues forcing them to become “stuck” to one another. When this happens near or around nerves, it can cause a peripheral entrapment – more simply known as a soft-tissue nerve “pinch”.(4)
Treatment for “Trapped” Nerves
When nerve tissue is trapped within or between muscles, the adhesions that cause the nerve to “stick” to the soft tissue are best removed using a muscle technique called Active Release Technique(ART). This is usually accomplished by applying specific pressure with a thumb or finger at the site of adhesion while moving the affected body part through a full and complete range of motion. Using this technique, the adhered tissue is held stationary while the nerve is pulled away and separated from the adhesion. This often creates an immediate reduction in nerve tension and, therefore, immediate (sometimes dramatic) symptom relief.(4)
Other Causes of Nerve Discomfort or Damage
Impingements are not the only cause for nerve irritation or damage. Here are some other causes of nerve damage.(5)
· Autoimmune diseases – multiple sclerosis, Guillain-Barre syndrome, myasthenia gravis
· Motor neuron diseases – Lou Gehrig’s disease, ALS
· Infectious disease – Lyme disease, herpes, HIV, hepatitis C
Chiropractor & MD
Chiropractic medicine and traditional medicine should have a place equally as important in our health care and prevention strategy.
Chiropractic medicine is a hands on physical adjustment to help our body be in balance. Impingements not matter how small may be best performed by a doctor of chiropractic medicine. Chiropractic medicine is also very helpful in a prevention strategy to avoid disease.
Traditional medicine uses pharmaceuticals and traditional methods to treat disease and ailments. Traditional medicine may not be set up correctly to help us in our efforts to prevent disease.
We promote the optimal use of both MD’s and Doctors of Chiropractic Medicine in a regime to be healthy and ultimately control health care costs.
Watch this short video from Dr. Scott Moore and Dr. Kallie Moore concerning Chiropractic Medicine
When I met with Dr. Scott Moore and Dr. Kallie Moore, I explained my health situation to them.
I hurt my knee when I was 26. I continued to play sports. I had some irritation in the knee and it continued to swell when I would play hard.
I went to my MD for advice. I was given 800 mg of Ibuprofen to aid in reducing the swelling and discomfort. Over time, the heavy use of Ibuprofen may have led to another condition. The end of my esophagus has been burned or deteriorated away. This has severely reduced my ability to play sports and exercise in general.
At the age of 41, I had two test procedures and a surgery to wrap my esophagus in an attempt to control the problem. I had three to four years of total relief and could continue to play competitive tennis. The procedure did not last and I had to give up competitive tennis and most aerobic activities two years ago.
When I was tested by Dr. Scott Moore, he mentioned the inflammation was telling him that my knee may be out of alignment. He and Dr. Kallie Moore treated my knee along with my spine and shoulder as part of my treatment and prevention regimen. After two treatment, I have not had any swelling in my left knee for over a year. I asked them if my knee could have been out of alignment for over 25 years without me knowing about it. They referred me to the garden hose analogy and told me yes. Even a slight impingement can cause symptoms and damage.
I wish I had known more about the value of chiropractic medicine over the course of my lifetime to treat and prevent disease. I will never know if a treatment 25 years ago could have saved me a great deal of pain and expense with my stomach and esophagus. I just know that it would have been nice to know and have choices 25 years ago and maybe things would have been different for me today.
We encourage each of you to look at your health and chronic conditions and talk to a doctor of chiropractic medicine who specializes in prevention to see if they can help you and your family.
Here’s to your health.
John J Barker
(1) Cormier Chiropractic, Dr. Keith Cormier, Lafayette, LA.
Our bodies are composed of trillions of cells that make up each of our different parts
(4) Irvine Family Health Center Chiropractic Offices, Kenneth D Erickson, D.C., Irvine, CA
(5)Nerve Pain and Nerve Damage, Brain & Nervous System Health, WebMD, May 16, 2011