|What is Chiropractic?
Chiropractic is a natural, holistic health care therapy. It is both drug-free and non-surgical in nature. Chiropractic maintains that disease results from a lack of normal nerve function. Therefore, chiropractic uses manipulation and specific adjustment of body structures (for example, the spinal column) to treat such disease. Many factors including accidents, overexertion and stress can cause displacements of the spinal column, resulting in irritation to spinal nerve roots. Chiropractic believes that reducing or eliminating this irritation can cause a person's body to operate more efficiently and comfortably.
As part of its holistic approach, chiropractic recognizes the importance of many interrelating factors in a person's overall health and well-being including structural, spinal, musculoskeletal, neurological, vascular, nutritional, emotional and environmental.
Philosophically, chiropractic is both conservative and naturalistic. The discipline believes that the human body is able to heal itself without invasive therapies such as medicines or surgery. To that end, chiropractors strive to prevent disease by maintaining a patient's body at its optimum condition and by treating diseases in a noninvasive, holistic manner. Because of their commitment to a naturalistic approach, Doctors of Chiropractic are on the leading edge of noninvasive health care.
Chiropractic, as a holistic discipline, recognizes the importance of nutritional and exercise programs, as well as lifestyle modifications for promoting optimal physical and mental health.
History of Chiropractic
Chiropractic is one of the oldest forms of health care. Evidence of its use dates back thousands of years to China. The famed Greek physician Hippocrates advised his students of the importance of the spine in many diseases by advocating a thorough understanding of the spine's anatomy. (He wrote in On the Articulations in 400 BC, "In the first place, the structure of the spine known, for this knowledge is requisite in many diseases.")
Daniel David Palmer founded modern chiropractic in 1895 in Davenport, Iowa. Palmer was convinced of the benefits of manipulation after the conditions of two patients, a deaf man and one with heart trouble, greatly improved after he performed manipulations on them. He went on to found the Palmer School of Chiropractic in 1897, which still exists and continues to be one of the finest chiropractic colleges in the country.
Over the last 100 years, chiropractic has become one of the leading and most well respected health care disciplines in the world. Its safety was proven long ago (especially relative to drug and surgical approaches); its efficacy and cost effectiveness have now also been proven in study after study.
Education of Chiropractic Doctors
Doctors of Chiropractic are highly educated and trained. They must complete four to five years at an accredited chiropractic college. The course of study is rigorous and includes both classroom and clinical training. Doctors of Chiropractic are trained both in diagnostics and therapeutics. In addition, all chiropractors must pass the national board exam as well as separate state examinations in the state(s) in which the chiropractor wishes to practice.
Scope of Practice
Although Doctors of Chiropractic often treat neuromusculoskeletal conditions, such as low back pain, chiropractors also diagnose and treat non-neuromusculoskeletal conditions such as asthma. They do so not only because of their training but also because of the recognition that many disease processes are not local in origin but are, in fact, multi-factorial and interrelational in nature.
Chiropractors do not use drugs or surgery; however, they do consult with and refer patients to other health practitioners when necessary. In fact, chiropractors now often work collaboratively with health care professionals from many other disciplines, such as medical doctors, physical therapists, etc., to ensure that a patient receives the comprehensive care that he or she requires.
Activator Methods is based on the postulate that understanding body mechanics and force is the key to understanding how to move bones. A leg test is utilized to tell the doctor if the subluxation exists, chiefly in the lumbo-sacral area or cervical region of the spine. With further research into body mechanics, W.C. Lee, D.C. and A.W. Fuhr, D.C. were able to analyze the body and produce from the analysis consistent changes using a light non-force specific chiropractic adjustment. Lee and Fuhr understood that force was not necessary to correct subluxations in the body. Two components are necessary for fast, effective reduction of nerve pressure caused by subluxations. They are speed and line of drive. Speed and line of drive are what make chiropractic the distinct and dynamic art and science that it is. The activator instrument was designed to deliver this specific dynamic thrust. It is a small hand-held, gun-type mechanism that delivers a sharp percussive thrust upon triggering. The activator instrument controls the force and speed of the adjustment exceptionally well and with the activator, the line of drive can be more specific.
Applied Kinesiology is an interdisciplinary approach to health care which draws together core elements of complementary therapies, creating a more unified approach to the diagnosis and treatment of functional illness. The origin of contemporary Applied Kinesiology is traced to 1964 when George G. Goodheart, Jr., D.C. first observed that in the absence of congenital or pathologic anomaly, postural distortion is often associated with muscles that fail to meet the demands of muscle tests designed to maximally isolate specific muscles. He observed that tender nodules were frequently palpable within the origin and/or insertion of the tested muscle. Digital manipulation of these areas of apparent muscle dysfunction improved both postural balance and the outcome of manual muscle tests. Goodheart and others have since observed that many conservative treatment methods improve neuromuscular function as perceived by manual muscle testing. These treatment methods have become the fundamental Applied Kinesiology approach to therapy. Included in the AK approach are specific joint manipulation or mobilization, various myofascial techniques, cranial techniques, meridian therapy, clinical nutrition, dietary management and various reflex procedures. With expanding investigation, there has been continued amplification and modification of the treatment procedures. Although many treatment techniques incorporated into AK were pre-existing, many new methods have been developed within the discipline itself. AK uses muscle testing to examine how the body is functioning and to make a diagnosis. A patient's health history is required, along with examination and laboratory findings, to determine the treatment required. AK uses functional assessment measures such as posture and gait analysis; manual muscle testing as functional neurologic evaluation; range of motion; static palpatation; and motion analysis. These assessments are used in conjunction with standard methods of diagnosis such as clinical history, physical examination findings, laboratory tests and instrumentation to develop a clinical impression of the unique physiologic condition of each patient. When appropriate, this clinical impression is used as a guide to the application of conservative physiologic therapeutics. The practice of AK requires that it be used in conjunction with other standard diagnostic methods by professionals trained in clinical diagnosis. As such, the use of AK or its component assessment procedures is appropriate only to individuals licensed to perform these procedures. AK exam is designed to enhance standard diagnosis procedures not replace them. The Applied Kinesiologist finds a muscle that tests weak and then attempts to determine why that muscle is not functioning properly. The practitioner will then evaluate and apply the therapy that will best eliminate the muscle weakness and help the patient.
Atlas Orthogonal Technique
An Atlas Orthogonist is a Board Certified and licensed Doctor of Chiropractic who is trained in the structure, function and biomechanics of the upper cervical spine. In 1970, Dr. Roy W. Sweat, D.C., B.C.A.O. designed a chiropractic adjustment instrument called the Atlas Orthogonal Instrument. He has since created a series of six different models. The instrument allows a doctor trained in Sweat-Atlas Orthogonal Technique to adjust an atlas misalignment with a very high degree of precision while applying minimal physical pressure thus eliminating most patient discomfort during treatment. A Doctor of Chiropractic trained in Sweat-Atlas Orthogonal Technique will take three x-rays of the spine in the cervical and upper-cervical area to determine their exact relationship. In proper position, the atlas will be orthogonal, or perpendicular, relative to the center of the skull, i.e., in the center of the lower cervical spine both in the frontal plane, and the center of the skull in the horizontal plane. Dr. Sweat's Atlas Orthogonal Instrument was created to deliver nearly flawless chiropractic adjustment based on the specific misalignment findings from the x-rays.
Directional Non-Force Technique
Directional Non-Force Technique was developed by Dr. Richard Van Rumpt, D.C. in 1922. The basic principle of D.N.F.T. is that innate body wisdom can be contacted by thought projection to make a chiropractic analysis. It is also the postulate of D.N.F.T. that this innate body wisdom can be used to accomplish the removal of nerve interference. The term 'Innate' is defined as life, inborn intelligence, energy, vibration, nerve-force, life force, love, mental energy, mind power and the power and wisdom within. D.N.F.T. uses a leg reflex to analyze the entire body for evidence of nerve interference and how to remove mechanical interference. In addition, D.N.F.T. works to remove spinal interferences and make adjustments to soft tissues, cranials, jaw, clavicles, arms, legs, feet, ribs, shoulders, pulses, tonsils, eyes and all other articulations of the body that can be reached. Regarding the adjustment, the doctor applies a very mild energy (thumb toggle thrust) in a corrective direction.
Diversified Technique is the classic chiropractic technique, developed by D.D. Palmer, DC. and taught in all chiropractic colleges. Diversified Technique was refined and developed by the late Otto Reinert, DC, to address biomechanical failure in each section of the spine as it relates to specific subluxation. The focus is on restoration to normal biomechanical function and correction of subluxation. In addition, Diversified methods have been developed to adjust extremity joints, allowing for beneficial applications in treating sports injuries and other injuries. Diversified adjusting of the spine uses specific lines of drives for all manual thrusts, allowing for specificity in correcting mechanical distortions of the spine. X-rays and case histories are used in analysis and diagnosis. No instruments are used in the adjusting procedure. Motion palpatation and full spine, hands-on techniques are used to deliver a deeper thrust, which makes an osseous (popping) sound as the adjustment is given.
Flexion-Distraction (Cox Technique)
Dr. Cox explains Flexion-Distraction (also known as Cox Technique), as a marriage of chiropractic principles with the osteopathic principles set forth by Alan Stoddard, DO in his book, Manual of Osteopathic Technique, written about the manipulative procedures developed by John McManis, DO in the early 1900's. Since the early 1970's, Dr. Cox has refined the technique, developed a manipulation instrument for effective use of the technique, conducted clinical, as well as participated in experimental, research; lectured around the world, and written well-received articles, chapters for textbooks and textbooks.
In the early 1960's word was spreading throughout the world that there was a healer in a small farming community in Wisconsin to whom people of all ages and walks of life were flocking. The man was Clarence S. Gonstead. He became a chiropractor in 1923 following a personal experience with chiropractic that had helped his body heal from a painful, crippling episode of rheumatoid arthritis. With a background in mechanical engineering, he would come to apply the principles of this discipline to the evaluation of the spine. Based on his studies, he developed the "foundation principle" to explain how a fixation in one area of the spine created compensatory bio-mechanical changes and symptoms in another. He was a pioneer in the chiropractic profession, developing equipment and a method of analysis that used more than one criteria to verify the precise location of vertebral subluxation (a subluxation is a spinal bone that is fixated or "stuck" resulting in nerve pressure and interfering with the innate ability of the body to maintain health.) One hallmark of the Gonstead Technique is adjustment of the neck with a very specific maneuver that is completed with the patient seated. The neck is adjusted in this manner to eliminate the twisting or rotation aspect of the adjusting procedure. The Gonstead Technique is recognized throughout the global chiropractic community as one of the safest systems of evaluating and caring for conditions related to the spine.
Founder, H. B. Logan, 1915 started the Logan College of Chiropractic in 1935. Logan Basic is a Chiropractic procedure that utilizes light force adjusting and full spine x-rays and postural analysis. It is a system of body mechanics that incorporates the use and understanding of pelvic and spinal distortions as they relate to sacral subluxation. A sacral adjustment is performed using light force contact (4 - 10 ounces.) The adjustment corrects sacral subluxation and irregularities in body mechanics. The technique also includes extremities and cranial work.
Motion Analysis (Palpation)
Motion Analysis was brought to the United States in 1981 and quickly gained acceptance as a standard diagnostic tool for the chiropractic profession. Motion palpation is now taught in chiropractic colleges throughout the world. Motion Palpation is a diagnostic technique used by a Doctor of Chiropractic to locate joint dysfunction within the spinal column and extremities. This method of spinal analysis, also called Motion Analysis, is based upon the conclusion that a vertebra cannot be displaced or remain displaced if some anomaly in the soft tissues (muscles, ligaments, articular capsule, etc.) does not cause and perpetuate its malposition. Therefore a study of the normal and abnormal mobilities of all the vertebral articulations and eventually all the extra spinal points was done to determine whatever anomalies in motion could be found in relation to subluxations. Intimate methods of palpating, and later of measuring mobilities, were developed before and after different adjustments. Motion Analysis/Palpation was created as a system of spinal analysis, which permits an easy examination of the spine, both in pinpointing the different subluxations and in determining their types. This system also serves in determining direction and force of adjustment. It was found that subluxations can be classed according to the degree of restriction of mobility. It was also found that correction of the fixation usually has a spontaneous correcting effect on smaller fixations. Furthermore, when the key fixation in any series is discovered and corrected, there was found to be a series of fixations which usually occured together and disappeared together. Medical diagnosis is used to determine if a subluxation to be adjusted is the site of any pathology. Clinical diagnosis is also necessary to determine if a medical specialist is needed before proceeding with adjustment. Motion Analysis is a comprehensive diagnosis that helps the doctor to apply treatment in the most beneficial way.
Pettibon Spinal Bio-Mechanics is a technique based on the research of Burl R. Pettibon, D.C. This full spine technique is based on seated x-rays and is scientifically reproduceable with 98% accuracy. This fact is based on adjusting the global spine versus segmental adjusting. Dr. Pettibon has created a specific postural chiropractic examination that clearly reveals the patients' needs of what to adjust and when to adjust it. Pettibon is a full spine technique with manual as well as instrument adjusting of the cervical, thoracic, lumbar spine, TMJ's, Skull on Atlas and extremities. Pettibon is a rehab-based technique with mandatory rehabilitation exercises starting from the first day of care through reconstructive care. This technique has three entirely different phases of care with post x-ray indications of correction.
Sacro Occipital Technique
Sacro Occipital Technique of Chiropractic (SOT) and Chiropractic Craniopathy is grounded in scientific research. Since the early 1900's, SOT has consistently delivered exceptional results while emphasizing patient comfort. SOT is a total body technique. Its broad scope includes not only the back and neck but also the internal organs, extremities and cranial structures. In SOT the primary focus is upon structural stability and integrity as well as neurological function. The basis of the human structure is the pelvis and the cranium. The spine, shoulders, neck and head sit upon the pelvis and are subject to the stresses and strains of gravity. These structures, as well as the rest of the body, are functionally maintained and controlled by the brain through the nervous system. Brain function is dependent upon optimal motion and alignment of the cranial bones and cranial dura. Located below the pelvis is the locomotion system: the legs and feet. All structures of the body are essential to the integrity of the whole. Additionally, organ function depends upon proper nerve supply from the spine. The spine in turn receives nerve reflexes from the organs that can compromise spinal mechanics. Therefore, the alignment, balance and optimal function of the cranium, pelvis, each spinal segment, organs and all of the extremities are essential to optimal health.
Thompson Terminal Point Technique is built around the research of Dr. Derifield of Detroit Michigan. Dr. Derifield noticed that the same adjustment on two patients with the same analysis did not always give the same results. As he gained more experience, he found that the answer lay in determining through analysis whether the subluxation was lower spine or cervical. Analysis of the patient's subluxations, using the Derifield Technique, depends upon a very accurate leg check. Dr.Derifield created a set of rules for checking the legs to determine the point of the subluxation in the pelvic and lumbar area. It was further determined that turning the head in certain ways helped to balance the legs. Later Dr. Niblo added testing various trigger points on the side of the short leg, and adjusting the anterior ischium, producing astonishing results. Using a Thompson terminal point table, which is especially designed for the Derifield technique, a special weighing mechanism in the terminal point table instantly weights the patient and adds only enough tension to hold the patient in the "up" position before the thrust is given.
Trigger Point Therapy
The technique and methods of Trigger Point Therapy were primarily defined and developed by Janet Travell, M.D. Trigger point therapy's primary focus is the elimination of myofascial pain syndrome caused by hyper irritable areas in muscles. Because these pain syndromes are often overlooked, Dr. Travel developed the techniques of trigger point therapy to help patients find relief. Trigger point therapy is performed in several ways. The least invasive is through the application of direct pressure, or ischemic compression to the effected muscle and the trigger point contained therein. Application of a vapocoolant spray in conjunction with stretching of the affected muscle, as well as therapeutic ultrasound may also be used. More invasive methods are available if the myofascial trigger points are unresponsive to the above therapies. Trigger point involves direct pressure to and stretching of the affected musculature. The amount of force used is dependent on patient tolerance. The technique affects the body by eliminating the accumulation of waste in the muscle. Additionally, trigger point therapy allows for restoration of normal muscle tone and flexibility. Trigger points are generally located through physical examination. Additional methods of detection such as thermal imaging are currently being investigated.
Upper Cervical Technique
Upper Cervical Technique focuses on the precise adjusting of the atlas and axis, the two vertabra just below the head. It is the basic premise of the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Research Association (NUCCRA) that an atlas or C1 subluxation is the most damaging subluxation in the spinal column. It is the first vertebral opening through which the nervous impulses pass to and from the brain. As it is located at the lower end of the brain stem, the subluxation's misalignment factors are capable of unsetting the central nervous system's inhibitory control over the extensor muscles of the spinal column, causing spinal imbalance, bodily distortions and stress. The NUCCA theory states that less than 1 mm of atlas laterality is enough to trigger a spastic contracture. Therefore, precision is essential in both X-ray taking and analysis. Each aspect is of equal importance: X-ray placement, X-ray analysis and the adjustment. Contraindications of this NUCCA adjustment are few, but osteoporosis and vertebral fracture are two conditions that could be problematic. The advantages of this procedure include safety, little pain, measurability, predictability, reliability and stability so that the body can heal itself. Skin temperature analysis, static and motion palpation and spinal balance (leg check) are examination procedures which accompany x-ray analysis and precede the initial adjustment. Complete physical, orthopedic, neurological examinations and laboratory tests, when indicated, are part of the work. The upper cervical X-ray series are used for the listing of the misalignments. Palmer Upper Cervical technique is a coordinated concussion of forces, applied by the hands, arms and shoulders, to reduce or correct multi-directional structural disrelationships of the first and second neck vertebrae in the human spine. The patient is placed on their side with their head on a drop head-piece falling approximately 1/2 inch as the adjustive thrust is initiated. A simultaneous and extremely rapid contaction of the doctor's arm muscles provides the adjustive thrust delivered through the doctor's hands. Only the hands are used to deliver the toggle (adjustive thrust). The hands and arms are allowed to "recoil" quickly, thereby assuring minimal discomfort to the patient. Post adjustment instructions are given on an individual basis. Patients are usually advised to rest for a short period following adjustments and a "common sense" exercise and balanced diet program are suggested.
The Chinese healing art of acupuncture is one that can be dated back at least two thousand years. Some authorities maintain that acupuncture has been practiced in China for as many as four thousand years. One of the most important concepts of Chinese medicine is that of natural balance. From this idea of balance arises the fundamental theory of yin and yang. According to this theory, life takes place in the alternating rhythm of yin and yang. The acupuncture procedure consists of the insertion of flexible, solid, extremely fine needles through the skin into energy points along the body's meridians. This promotes harmony in the flow of bodily qi (life force or vital energy.) The safety of acupuncture is assured by the use of sterile needles, which are disposed of after every treatment. Most patients experience the procedure as painless. Some may feel a pinch at the insertion site, an electric buzz or numbness. Most report the pleasant sensation of relaxation. Traditional methods of diagnosing the need for treatment include evaluation of the pulses and tongue, and palpation of the abdomen. Oriental medicine consists primarily of Acupuncture and Chinese herbology. According to the practitioner, diet, lifestyle and exercise recommendations may be included.
Several systems of herbal medicine are used today, yet they all share the viewpoint of treating the body as a whole and using each plant's unique energies to synergistically work with the energy of each patient. The most prevalent systems are Western, Ayurvedic, Chinese, Native American and European. Herbs are foods, as well as medicines, and must be used with moderation. There are five accepted major classifications of herbs : Aromatic, Astringent, Bitter, Mucilaginous and Nutritive. Herbs can be dispensed in many ways. Tinctures, capsules, tablets, teas, juices, decoctions, poultices, infused oils, salves and ointments, lotions and syrups are some examples. Each method is preferred for specific applications and may be used in combination with other treatments.
Homeopathy, which was developed in Germany by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1834), uses extreme dilutions of elements which, when taken by a healthy person, cause similar symptoms to the ailment being treated. Such heavily diluted preparations are obviously very low in toxicity with scarce side effects. Modern homeopathy uses a combination of remedies to stimulate organ function, induce drainage and detoxification, and provide cellular support. Classical homeopathy is built upon three principles: the above-described law of similars, the single remedy and the minimum dose. An important part of prescribing a homeopathic medicine is a detailed patient interview to determine all symptoms being experienced. The physician then determines which medicine best matches those symptoms and prescribes a single medicine that covers all the symptoms instead of a different one for each. This is the law of the single remedy. There are two parts to the principle of the minimum dose: first, the homeopathic physician prescribes only a very small number of doses and waits to see what effect it has; and second, the medicine is given only in infinitesimal doses.
Introduced in 1964, Kinesiology is a diagnostic form of biomechanics that analyzes and investigates human motion using the body's biofeedback system. Muscle testing is applied to the individual's unique physiology to identify imbalances in the body's physical, chemical or emotional systems. This establishes the priority of the body's healing needs and evaluates energy transfomations created by both manual and non-manual therapeutic procedures. Treatment can include light massage to relax or stimulate key muscles at specific points on the body. Kinesiology is believed to work with the electromagnetic energies of the body to bring them into balance. Although there are many different methods for applying Kinesiology, a common one involves asking a question of the body, then pressing down on the extended arm of the patient. Resistance to lowering will have one meaning; an easily lowered arm another. The response is then interpreted by the practitioner.
Massage Therapy is a method of healing that utilizes human touch to promote relaxation, relief of tension and a greater level of well being. There are numerous methods and techniques of massage ranging from the most gentle, superficial stimulation to deep, forceful manipulation of muscle groups. Massage is used as a complement to many other forms of healing. Massage Therapy promotes healthy circulation, ease of movement, deep breathing, strong immunity and mental clarity. Massage lowers stress and anxiety levels, reduces blood pressure and shortens the healing time of injuries. Massage is an effective way to increase the body's receptivity to chiropractic alignment, used before an adjustment to warm and soften tight muscles, and afterward, to encourage the body to accept and retain the treatment.
Chiropractic is oriented toward preventive health care and proper nutrition is a vital part of an overall wellness program.
Nutrition is the science of food and other substances as well as the action, interaction and balance of different nutrients in the body. The body's essential nutrients include carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and water. Good nutrition helps a person to digest, absorb, metabolize and excrete properly leading to homeostatis. It may prevent illnesses such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers. Conversely, bad nutrition from eating, for example, too much sugar and fat imbalances the body's functions and may lead to fatigue and numerous diseases.
Chiropractors who include nutrition therapy/services in their practice assess a patient's condition through case history, physical examination, testing and a review of current diet and lifestyle. Tests using certain patient samples (e.g. stool, urine, saliva, etc.) can provide important information regarding metabolism, function and disease. After the evaluation and testing is completed, qualified chiropractors and nutritionists are able to make recommendations on what foods to eat, what foods to eliminate, how to remove toxins, possible supplements for specific needs and exercise.
Physiotherapy is a natural method of treating and preventing injury and disease. It aims to help alleviate pain, to restore normal movement patterns and to return the body to a state of equilibrium without chemical intervention. A Physiotherapist helps the patient maximize functional movement and ability by using a variety of hands-on treatments, an exercise recommendation and education. Physiotherapy has widespread applications. It can help an individual gain strength and flexibility, reduce pain and promote greater independence. It can also help virtually any condition that affects the muscles or nerves. One of the primary applications is in rehabilitation from stroke or injury. Some of the therapies applied include the use of heat, cold, electric stimulation, ultrasound, traction and massage. Chartered Physiotherapists have years of extensive training and skills.
Reflexology is a healing technique based on the same energy channels, or meridians, as those used in Acupuncture. During Reflexology treatment, the practitioner concentrates on the meridians found in the feet, applying pressure using specific finger techniques. Reflexology is a safe, natural aid to the body's own healing abilities. The six meridians in the feet penetrate the major organs of the body, and the layout of the Acupoints on the feet represents a microcosm of the complete body. Massaging these points clears blockages of qi (energy) along meridians and helps the qi to flow freely for optimal well being.