This is a test.

Police traffic stop[originally published in KCN, October 1999]

This is a test.  For next  700 words, this newspaper, in conjunction with your local chiropractor, will be conducting a test of the  Emergency Chiropractic System.  This is only a test.   Beeeeeeeeep…
— Wait!  Hold the test!  Before we commence with this “test,” let me break in for a moment.  I’d like to share an observation.  It happens to me often.  I’ll meet someone for the first time, and  after finding out that I’m a chiropractor, they’ll proudly tell me how they’ve never had to call upon the services of my profession because they’ve never had back pain.  Unfortunately, for our body’s sake, this  line of thinking is all too common.  Sure, we may be aware of a few telltale signs that a problem could possibly be brewing, “but if we just give it time,” it usually goes away, we think to ourselves.  It’s not until our bodies resort to crying out in agonizing pain that most of us finally consider seeking the help of a health professional — at least a chiropractor anyway.  Imagine if this same attitude existed in the field of dentistry.  Why, your friendly neighborhood dentist would be up to his elbows yanking teeth and scraping out nasty abscessed root canals.

While it’s true that pain can be a wonderful messenger as to the existence of a problem in our bodies, it’s not always very reliable, and when it does show up, it’s often late.  So, if you can’t rely on pain, how do you know if you should be seeing a chiropractor?  While the best way find out is to undergo a through spinal examination by a doctor of chiropractic, there are a few things that you can do at home to shed some light on the situation.  That’s where the “test” comes in — let’s continue it. ____________________________________
…The following tests require the assistance of a friend or loved one and can be performed on individuals of any age.  The person acting as the “doctor” should have a pen and paper ready to record the test results of his or her “patients,”  along with any other possibly useful notations.

test-posture2Posture Check. Posture, how you hold yourself when you sit or stand, can be a virtual “window”  into the health of your spine.  To “peek” into this “window,” have the adults or children being tested stand on a hard, flat surface.  Have them close their eyes and “march in place” for a few moments.  With their eyes still closed, have them nod their heads a couple of times as if they were looking at the floor and then the ceiling.  Now have them stop where they feel comfortable and stand completely still.  Your job as the “doctor” will be to examine your “patients”  from all sides.  From the front or back, look for any evidence of possible spinal problems by noting if their heads leans off  to one side.  Look at their shoulders:  is one higher than the other?  Check their hips too — noting any unevenness.  A skewed hemline on a skirt or pant legs can also provide you with valuable information.  Now examine your “patients” from the side.  Imagine a straight plumb line that hangs from the ceiling.  On each of your “patients,” this line should pass through the ear, the shoulder, the hip, and the ankle without deviation.  Is the head coming too far forward from the rest of the body or the hips too far back?  Be sure to note any of these alterations, as they are all postural clues that spinal stresses exist and have the potential to be problematic.

Range of Motion. Our ability, or inability, to move in different directions can also provide clues as to the test-romhealth of our spines.  Have the adults or children being tested stand.  To test their neck motion, have them turn their heads, looking over each shoulder.  Their movements should be done freely and without pain or pulling.  Also, your “patients” should be able to turn equally in both directions.  Note any aspect that  seems restricted.  Now, have your “patients” bend their necks forward, looking down towards the floor, then look up towards the ceiling  as far back as possible.  Next examine side bending of their necks, having your “patients” bring their ears towards their shoulders without raising them.  Repeat on the opposite side.  Again, the movements should be done freely and without pain or pulling, and should be equal from side to side, as it was with head turning.

These next sets of motions will focus on the lower and middle back regions.  Have your “patients” bend forward as if attempting to touch their toes, then bend backwards — watch for freedom of movement with the absence of any pain or pulling.  Have your “patients” side bend to either side; follow with a gentle twisting to the right, then left, of their upper bodies.  Again, observe for equal motion in both directions that is unrestricted and without sensations of pain or pulling .  Changes in range of motion can often be subtle, especially with smaller problems, so do not discount any positive findings and record all the information you can gather.

test-leg-lengthLeg Length Test. This final test can often be very telling as to whether a misalignment in the spine and/or pelvis exists.  For this test, have the adults or children being tested lie face down on a bed with their feet hanging over the edge.  Make sure they are wearing hard soled shoes.  Their legs should be kept together and their arms should be at their sides.  It is important that your “patients” keep their faces straight down during the test.  For each patient, grasp both of the feet with your hands, applying a gentle and equal pressure between the heel and  arch with your thumbs.  Check to see if one leg appears shorter.  If one leg does appear shorter, note whether it is the right or left and record an estimated measurement of the difference.  Also note whether your “patients’ ” shoes show any signs of uneven or unusual wear.  The finding of a “short” leg and/or abnormal shoe wear are valuable diagnostic signals that a spinal problem may exist.

This has been a test of the Emergency Chiropractic System.  If, after performing these simple tests on  friends or loved ones,  possible problems are detected, no matter how minor they might initially seem, you would be instructed to encourage them to follow through with a professional evaluation by their local doctor of chiropractic.  Learning to listen to these quiet voices of our bodies, rather than waiting for them scream at us in pain, is one of the vital keys to gaining access to true health….We now return you to your newspaper.

[Click here for step-by-step instructions from our website on how to perform these and other simple home tests to determine if today’s chiropractic care could help you].


Sources used for this article:

Home Spinal Exam. (brochure). Chiroslide. 1996.
Should you be seeing a doctor of chiropractic?  (brochure) Leg Length version.  Balk Talk Systems, Inc.  1994.
Should you be seeing a doctor of chiropractic?  (brochure) Postural version.  Balk Talk Systems, Inc.  1994.
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