Chiropractic 101

[originally published in KCN, July 1997]chiro101

I remember in my first year of chiropractic college that one of our assignments was to ask three complete strangers to explain what a chiropractor does.

By and large, the most common answers we got were either they “didn’t really know” or that a chiropractor “fixes backs.”  Even after practicing for a couple of years, I’ve found  these responses still to be common.   Its not surprising that the public would think of chiropractors as back doctors, after all,  low back pain is extremely prevalent in our society.  Statistics tell us that 80% of the population will develop some form of lower back pain in their lifetime.  It is the second leading reason people visit their physicians —

second  only to the common cold.

Because back pain has had such a large financial impact on our society, the U.S.  Department of Health and Human Services conducted a five-year study to determine the most effective forms of treatment for acute low back pain.  The results concluded that relief “can be accomplished most safely with nonprescription medications and/or spinal manipulation [adjustments].”

Doctors of chiropractic perform approximately 95% of the spinal manipulations in this country.

Another government study conducted in Canada found that chiropractic was more effective at treating low back pain than medical means.  In fact, they found the most commonly used medical treatments to have questionable value.

Based on these studies, one might incorrectly assume that chiropractors are just back doctors.  But if one were to adopt this view, they’

d be uninformed.  Chiropractic has so much more to offer.  Chiropractic is about allowing the body the chance to maintain optimum health — naturally, without always having to turn to drugs and surgery.

chiropractic-101-nervous-systemAs a chiropractor, my main objective is to restore and maintain the health of the  nervous system.  Chiropractic is based on the scientific fact that the nervous system controls the function of every cell, tissue, organ, and system of the body.  The nervous system consists of the brain, spinal cord, and millions of nerves.  The brain is protected by the skull, and the spinal cord by the 24 moving bones of the spine.  Many everyday activities can cause these spinal bones to lose their normal position or motion.  This can result in nervous system dysfunction and ultimately ill health — for some people this might manifest itself as low back pain .  As a chiropractor, my approach to health is to detect, reduce, and help prevent nervous system dysfunction.  Since most of my patients see me when they are in pain (their body’

s way of warning them that there is a problem) – they find that chiropractic is extremely effective at relieving that pain.

Ironically, it is not the chiropractor that relieved the pain, but rather their own bodies.  You see, as a chiropractor, I merely remove the irritation on the nervous system and allow the body to heal itself.  Our bodies are amazing, and can keep us healthy if given the chance.

I encourage you to learn more about chiropractic.  Seek out your local chiropractor.  Ask questions.  And see how chiropractic can help your body function the way it was designed.


Sources used for this article:
Bigos, et. al.  Acute low back problems in adults.  Clinical Practice Guideline, No. 14. AHCPR Publication 95-0642. Public Health Service, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 1994.
Manga, et. al. The effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of chiropractic management of low-back pain. Pran Manga and Associates. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. 1993
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