Chiropractors are back doctors. Right?
Well, while it is true that we place our hands on backs every day, calling us back doctors really misses the mark. As a matter of fact, calling chiropractors “back doctors” makes about as much sense as calling medical doctors “stomach doctors.”
…for it is through the stomach that the various medications they prescribe access your system and ultimately affect your health. Chiropractors on the other hand, associate themselves with the back, because it is through the bony spinal column that the “breaker box” of the body’s internal circuitry is housed — the nervous system. Because of the amazing amount of movement and flexibility that the spinal column affords us, the spinal nerve roots that exit out between each of the individual spinal bones are vulnerable to getting “pinched” or “choked” when one of these joints stiffens or locks up (chirospeak: subluxation). Chiropractors know that when the joints of the spine are moving as they should, the nervous system that it encases is optimized and is able to work as best as it can. This ultimately affects one’s health. So, like the medical doctor using the stomach as a portal of entry to affect the health of your body, chiropractors use the back.
“What’s the big deal with the nervous system?” you might be thinking. Unfortunately, most people never really give the nervous system much thought. We know it is there, but for the most part, our concept of health has really centered around “blood.” Case in point: most people have no problem rattling off several blood-based diseases, but when it comes to doing the same for the nervous system, silence prevails. Interesting, isn’t it? Yes, the almighty circulatory system has taken front and center stage in our minds. William Esteb, chiropractic observationalist and advocate, points out in one of his books that this is because we are a “blood-based culture.” We take blood pressure, monitor our pulse rates, and measure our cholesterol levels. We type our blood, bank our blood, protect ourselves from blood, and donate our blood.
“An increasing number of patient health concerns,” Mr. Esteb observes, “have something to do with the blood — measuring something about the blood, putting something into the blood, or getting something out of the blood…. Perhaps our fascination with blood,” he continues, “is due to the pumping action of the heart. It moves! Even when we don’t, it does. In the same way a steam locomotive seems so much more impressive than a $10 pocket calculator, it’s easy to imagine why patients would see their hearts as more important than the solid state function of their brains and nervous systems.”
While it may be difficult to shift our health focus from our hearts and the fluids they circulate to the less exciting brain and nervous system, one only has to look to the medical reference pillar, Gray’s Anatomy, to learn that if it wasn’t for this electrical system, as unexciting as it may seem, our “blood pump”, and every other organ for that matter, would not function properly — or at all: “Every function of the human body is under the control and coordination of the brain and the nerve system.”
That’s a pretty huge statement. It’s amazing when you think about it. And when you realize that the spinal nerve roots that exit out between the bones that make up the spine (vertebrae) will split and branch off from one another an infinite number of times to service each and every cell of the body, it’s even more amazing. Amazing times 75 trillion. That’s the average number of cells in the human body. And while most of us would admit that 75 trillion is a very, very large number, truthfully, it is a little difficult to comprehend — however, the number sharpens in focus when you understand that you would have to spend 1 billion dollars a day for the next 200 years to match a number of that magnitude. That certainly puts a different spin on the chiropractic adjustment.
“Okay, this nervous system thing sounds pretty important,” you might be thinking, “but seriously, that’s not at the top of my list when I leaf though the yellow pages for a chiropractor— I do it because my back hurts.”
Fair enough. And, chiropractors do an excellent job in dealing with that pain. But remember, it is because of the nervous system that you are able to feel your pain. Realize that the pain is usually not the problem. Pain only occupies a very small piece of the nervous system pie, however, it is a very valuable piece in that it signals that a deeper issue is at hand — usually one involving other aspects the nervous system. For the most part, these other aspects would go unnoticed if it wasn’t for the pain — slowly sapping your body’s health like a slow leak in a plumbing system.
So don’t lose “heart.” The blood-based health understandings that we have all held high are vital for good health, just remember that it has its master. And now you know.
So while the majority of the population will refer to us a “back doctors,” you are now in the position to gently educate them about the “stomach doctors”, and that we really should be looked at as “nerve doctors.”
It certainly may take awhile for the “blood to nerve” shift to occur in our culture. The truth is, “when it comes to our bodies,” as Mr. Esteb points out, “most patients place a greater value on the fluids that circulate in their veins and arteries, than the impulses that ply their nervous systems…. [But] when the dust settles on HMOs and the instant gratification taught by television commercials about the latest pill or potion, it is the battle between the circulatory system and nervous system that stands in the way of a widespread acceptance and utilization of chiropractic…. Perhaps it would be different,” Esteb remarks, “if patients had a readout that would insistently flash 12:00 whenever they had a subluxation!”
Of course then, that means that chiropractors would be “clock docs.” Right?
sources used for this article:
Esteb. Looking up: relentless observations of a chiropractic advocate. Orion Associates, Inc Colorado Springs, Colorado. 1998.chiropractic 101, healthy living, whole body health
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