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
As we get older, the discs and the joints of our spines and other bony structures undergo changes; some of these changes are degenerative in nature. While degeneration occurs even in the healthiest of people, it can be encouraged by a number of things such as poor nutrition, an injury, or bad posture.
Bone spurs are additional bone material, or overgrowths, and have been attributed to a wide variety of ailments. Also called osteophytes, bone spurs are manufactured by your body in response to a breakdown in existing bony structures. Sometimes bone spurs can exert pressure on nerves, which leads to pain.
In people with arthritis, for example, bone spurs develop in the joint or disc spaces, where cartilage has begun to break down or deteriorate. Bone spurs sometimes block the spaces where nerve roots leave the spinal canal.
Bone spurs in the spine can be particularly painful. One area where bone spurs seem to be prevalent is in the disc spaces between vertebrae. As the discs and their attached ligaments begin to wear down, the body begins to thicken the ligaments. Over time, the ligaments can calcify and shed small fragments. The presence of this additional material in the spine can cause compression and pain.
Most of us suffer from subtle degeneration in our bone structures over a lifetime. It is an unpleasant, yet unavoidable result of the aging process. Likewise, many of us can develop bone spurs in one part of our body or another, and not even know they exist.
Some of us, however, are not so fortunate. Osteophytes can cause pain in the neck and back, as well as radiating type pains through the extremities, such as the arms and legs.