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
Whiplash is an injury to the cervical spine, or neck, and occurs when the muscles and other soft tissues are hyper extended or hyperflexed. Whiplash can damage the intervertebral discs of the upper spine.
Most instances of whiplash occur during a front-end or rear-end automobile collision.
The force of the vehicle being struck, or striking another object are quite powerful, and can cause the neck muscles, ligaments, and tendons to twist and turn with incredible, unnatural force. These tissues, which are stretched far beyond their natural limits, can become torn and in some cases, permanently damaged. In addition, vertebral discs in the cervical spine can bulge, tear, and rupture.
A chiropractic examination of a possible whiplash injury entails assessing whether a serious injury warrants hospitalization, and which tissues and spinal structures have been injured.
The exam may include a cranial nerve examination, reflex and motor skill tests, and motion palpation, which assesses the spinal joints' mobility and pain response.
Possible treatments for whiplash may include:
- Muscle relaxation or stimulation, which entails gentle muscle stretches and/or finger pressure on specific sensory trigger points.
- Heat therapy
- Ice therapy
- Spinal manipulation
- Range of motion and other therapeutic exercises designed to test the stability and integrity of the neck muscles and correct unnatural movement patterns in the neck and other areas.
Consultation about proper ergonomics, including tools used during work, as well as mattresses and pillows. Some people who incur whiplash supplement their chiropractic treatment with a device called a cervical collar, a soft cushion that envelopes the neck and keeps the weight of the head from applying undue pressure to damaged tissues during the healing process. Other methods may employ a cervical traction device, which keeps the neck immobile.
Most people who suffer whiplash can heal properly in two to four weeks, providing they follow the treatment regimen outlined by their chiropractor. Sever cases of whiplash involving trauma to the spine or discs may require surgery.