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
In a normal healthy spine, bundles of nerves exit the spinal column at dozens of tiny locations from the base of the skull to the top of the lower back. When these openings become blocked or narrowed, nerves can become impinged, leading to a condition called stenosis.
The vast majority of cases of spinal stenosis occur in the lower back. Lumbar spinal stenosis can severely restrict daily activity. Because lumbar stenosis almost always impinges the sciatic nerve, one or both of the legs also can be affected. Radiating pain or numbness in the legs, and sometimes the ankles, feet and toes, is common.
What causes changes in these openings? A lot of things! One major cause is the process of aging. As joints and ligaments undergo wear and tear, they can shift partially into these spaces. In fact, stenosis is most common in people in their 50s and beyond.
Stenosis also has can be inherited or acquired at birth. In rare cases, synovial cysts, which develop as a result of degeneration in the facet joint in the lumbar spine, have been linked to spinal stenosis, or at least mimic many of the symptoms of spinal stenosis.
Symptoms of spinal stenosis include:
- Burning, tingling, or shooting pain in the buttocks or extremities.
- Diminished pain in the extremities when bending forward or sitting (which relieves the pressure on the nerve by temporarily opening the vertebral space).
Cervical stenosis with myelopathy is a type of stenosis that affects the long tracts of nerves inside the spinal cord. Symptoms of myelopathy include:
- Arm pain
- Heavy feeling in the legs
- Inability to walk at a fast pace
- Loss of fine motor skills
- Shooting arm and leg pain, particularly when bending the head forward
Rest and restricted activity, as well as over-the-counter medications, such as aspirin and analgesics, and corticosteroid injections, have been known to provide temporary relief of the pain associated with stenosis. Physical therapy and back braces have also shown to be somewhat effective.
A thorough chiropractic examination will provide you with information about all of the available nonsurgical and nonmedicated options.