It is estimated that about 27 million Americans visit a doctors of chiropractic each year, and millions more receive chiropractic care throughout the rest of the world. Chiropractic is the third largest primary health care field (after medicine and dentistry).
Chiropractic is a branch of the healing arts which is based upon the understanding that good health depends, in part, upon a normally functioning nervous system (especially the spine, and the nerves extending from the spine to all parts of the body).
"Chiropractic" comes from the Greek word Chiropraktikos, meaning "effective treatment by hand." Chiropractic stresses the idea that the cause of many disease processes begins with the body's inability to adapt to its environment.
It looks to address these diseases not by the use of drugs and chemicals, but by locating and adjusting a musculoskeletal area of the body which is functioning improperly.
The conditions which doctors of chiropractic address are as varied and as vast as the nervous system itself.
We use a standard procedure of examination to diagnose a patient's condition and arrive at a course of treatment. Chiropractors use the same time-honored methods of consultation, case history, physical examination, laboratory analysis and x-ray examination as any other doctor. In addition, they provide a careful chiropractic structural examination, paying particular attention to the spine.
The examination of the spine to evaluate structure and function is what makes chiropractic different from other health care procedures. Your spinal column is a series of movable bones which begin at the base of your skull and end in the center of your hips. Thirty-one pairs of spinal nerves extend down the spine from the brain and exit through a series of openings. The nerves leave the spine and form a complicated network which influences every living tissue in your body.
Accidents, falls, stress, tension, overexertion, and countless other factors can result in a displacements or derangements of the spinal column, causing irritation to spinal nerve roots. These irritations are often what cause malfunctions in the human body. Chiropractic teaches that reducing or eliminating this irritation to spinal nerves can cause your body to operate more efficiently and more comfortably.
We also places an emphasis on nutritional and exercise programs, wellness and lifestyle modifications for promoting physical and mental health. While chiropractors make no use of drugs or surgery, Doctors of chiropractic do refer patients for medical care when those interventions are indicated. In fact, chiropractors, medical doctors, physical therapists and other health care professionals now work as partners in occupational health, sports medicine, and a wide variety of other rehabilitation
Because the body's nerves are electrical conductors, medical professionals have long held that stimulating nerve endings with small electrical current can produce beneficial results.
The theory behind electrotherapy as part of chiropractic care is that such stimulation to affected nerves and muscles encourages the body to release pain-killing chemicals, such as opiates and endorphins, and blocks pain signals from being transmitted to the brain.
Electrotherapy is a pain management technique, and as such, is part of an overall chiropractic treatment regimen. Electrotherapy is usually involved in the early treatment stages, especially right after an injury. Ice and heat therapy may be combined with electrotherapy to boost its pain-killing powers.
Electrotherapy normally involves placing small adhesive pads on the skin at various points on the body. Electrotherapy is generally not painful. The adhesive pads may cause a minor skin irritation after being removed and, in some instances, patients may feel a mild stinging after therapy.
Common types of electrotherapy include:
- Galvanic stimulation (GS) - High-voltage pulsed galvanic stimulation has been used in acute low back pain to reduce muscle spasm and soft tissue edema (swelling). It is commonly used despite the lack of hard scientific evidence for its efficacy. Its effect on muscle spasm and pain is felt to occur by its counter-irritant effect, effect on nerve conduction and a reduction in muscle contractility.
- Radiofrequency rhizotomy - Normally used for chronic cases of facet joint syndrome, a degenerative condition in which joint cartilage wears thin, causing stiffness, inflammation, muscle spasms, and later osteoarthritis. This procedure applies heated radio-frequency waves to the joint's nerves that carry painful impulses
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) - This is the most common type of electrical stimulation used today. TENS therapy is normally used to treat chronic, or long-term pain in the lower back. Small electrodes are placed inside an elastic-type belt worn around the lumbar region. Percutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (PENS), an enhanced and newer type of pain management therapy, makes use of very thin needles (much like those in acupuncture), which are inserted in the lower back by the chiropractor. Small battery-powered TENS units also are available for use at home, work, or other activities. The patient is able to control the level and frequency of stimulation, and self-administer impulses during episodes of pain.
- Interferential current (IFC) - This is a kind of TENS therapy in which high-frequency electrical impulses are introduced deep into the tissues near the center of the pain.