Chiropractic medicine at the core is the use of vertebral subluxation to align and balance the body. While the scope of health and wellness tools that a chiropractor may use and even specialize may be broad, the core, fundamental foundation of chiropractic care is in the proper alignment of the spine. This is called vertebral subluxation or as some call it, an adjustment.
Chiropractic care in the form of vertebral subluxation is designed to align the vertebrae in order to promote optimal movement and nerve signaling through the body. D.D. Palmer and his son B.J Palmer were the founder and developer, respectively, of chiropractic as a medical discipline. Their work centered around the nerve signaling in the spine as well as the biomechanics of the spine as early as 1895.
The spine has 24 vertebrates. Each one needs both alignment and motion to function properly. Motion means how the vertebrate moves in relation to the vertebrate above and below. Proper motion and alignment is the only way to have optimally functioning nerve signalling through the body. Loss of normal alignment is subluxation. The manual adjusting to the spine that a chiropractor does is correcting the subluxation. This is sometimes called an adjustment.
The reasons for the spine being subluxed, or needing an adjustment will vary from person to person and change throughout a person’s life and experiences based on many factors. However, most commonly the cause of misalignment and poor function fall into these 6 categories: Inflammation, muscle tension/spam/trigger points, scar tissue, herniated/slipped disc, and degeneration. These are the primary reasons someone would benefit from a chiropractic adjustment. Many in the field would argue that subluxations in the spine are the cause of all disease. While we know that disease occur from many compounding factors, an aligned spine with proper function is the best foundation from which to treat and prevent disease.
Spine care is taken for granted by most people and has been underutilized by the medical community at large. While at the same time, low back pain has been proven to be the most common, costly and disabling health problem in Western society. While musculoskeletal pain is one of the primary and costly issue in the healthcare system, the primary spine specialist, Chiropractors are underutilized to treat it. Not only are they be most specifically trained, but chiropractic are for back pain and specifically work related injury back pain has better outcomes than when treated by a medical doctor or with physical therapy. Consider these results as published in a 2011 study comparing chiropractic, medical doctor and physical therapy treatment. Chiropractic care during the disability episode resulted in:
- 24% decrease in disability duration of first episode compared to physical therapy.
- 250% decrease in disability duration of first episode compared to medical physician’s care.
- 32% decrease in average weekly cost of medical expenses during disability episode compared to physical therapy care.
- 21% decrease in average weekly cost of medical expenses during disability episode compared to medical physician’s care.
While taking care of your spine can make a big difference in your back pain, the rest of your body needs it too! Every cell in the body needs a clear brain connection. The messaging system between the brain and the body is through the nerves of the spine. This means chemicals needed to digest food, maintain good memory, lubricate joints, and support every organ of your body to your kidneys to your reproductive organ have to get the signals from the spine to do that they need to do. Each organ has nerve signaling directly linked from that organ to a vertebrate in the spine. Therefore if that vertebrate is out of place, is can impede the messaging and function of that organ.
You may have heard how the gut (gastrointestinal tract) is the foundation for health and disease. Hippocrates is credited with saying this very thing and is often quoted. And while good gut function is crucial for good health, it is worth backing up a step to note all the nerve signalling that is required to do all the vital functions of the gut and digestion. In fact, the gut is called the “second brain” because it has such fluid and crucial signalling in common with the brain. The gut and the brain are constantly messaging back and forth. What is the source of this signaling you ask? How does that actually work? Well, through the spine! The vagus nerve is connected to various organs along the whole length of the spine. The signalling pathways of every organ in the body flow through nerve systems in the spine. Doing everything possible to keep those signals moving and moving correctly can be the basis of health and disease and of course, pain.
We are led to believe by over simplified, conventional medicine that the body is broken up into separate systems that function within the confines of that part of the body. However, this is far from the truth. The body is not a bunch of sections hung on a skeleton. No, far from it. It is an incredibly complex, wise, and connected interconnected tapestry of organs, nerves, muscles, tissues, bones, biochemicals, and so much more that all work in sync with each other to make you human. The cornerstone of this connected system is the spine. Taking good care of the spine is right up there with good gut health. These two body systems are the epicenters for the rest of the body’s work. Your body is amazing and if it doesn’t feel that way right now, we encourage you to get back to the basics of spine and gut health.
While there is a lot of “noise” in the healthcare industry and all sorts of quick-fix, “bells and whistles” types of wellness treatments out there, nothing will replace consistent quality care of your spine and gut. If you are confused about healthcare, the team at LifeWorks Integrative Health will guide you in getting back to the basics of spine and gut health.