THE PRACTICE OF CHIROPRACTIC
Chiropractic is a branch of the healing arts which is concerned with human health and prevention of disease. Doctors of chiropractic are physicians who consider a person as an integrated being, but give special attention to spinal biomechanics, musculoskeletal, neurological, vascular, and nutritional relationships and their impact upon health.All states in the USA (and Puerto Rico) have statutes recognizing and regulating the practice of chiropractic as an independent health service.
As of 1995, the practice of chiropractic was officially regulated in nine of the provinces of Canada, in Switzerland, West Germany, New Zealand, Australia, Bolivia, and is acknowledged and accepted in the Scandinavian countries, Italy, the British Isles, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Japan, Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru, and the Virgin Islands. This list is increasing.
A whole-body approach
Chiropractors incorporate the chiropractic adjustment into their treatment to restore normal motion and alignment to the spine and extremity articulations. Normal function is then restored, allowing the natural healing mechanisms in the body to function properly. It is the nature of chiropractic care to approach health through prevention as well as treatment of the causative agent of disease. The chiropractic philosophy, or paradigm, has been described as holistic, or wholistic, in that it treats the body as a whole – a network of complicated systems that can effect eachother profoundly. Chiropractors also recognize the significance of the mind- body connection, and take the influence of stress very seriously when planning a way to treat a condition. A chiropractic prescription for health often includes chiropractic adjusting, physiotherapy, anti-inflammatory therapies, dietary changes, lifestyle modification, exercise, and stress reduction.
The Chiropractic Adjustment
One of the chiropractor’s primary tools is the chiropractic adjustment. The chiropractor can gently and skilfully direct a specific force to restore normal range of motion to a joint which is being restricted by muscles or fibrous adhesions. Abnormal nerve signals caused by the restriction which create interference with normal function can then be eliminated. Once normal motion is restored, other body systems which have compensated for the problem can begin to return to normal. Studies have shown that the chiropractic adjustment triggers the release of natural painkillers known as endorphins and that swelling, inflammation and pain can reduce significantly after an adjustive intervention. The effects of a chiropractic adjustment may be felt long distances from the point at which it was delivered: the elimination of a chronic headache, for example, after an adjustment of the vertebrae of the neck or even the lower back.Because chiropractic’s approach is conservative and designed to be as noninvasive as possible, it may take several adjustments on several days to restore a balance. Since the chiropractor facilitates the patient in becoming healthy, it is imperative that the patient cooperate and take responsibility for their healing.
SCIENTIFIC THEORIES OF CHIROPRACTIC
One older definition of Chiropractic is based upon three related scientific theories:
1. Pathological disease processes, as well as health in general, may be influenced by disturbances of the nervous system. Many factors have been implicated as impairing health, such as hereditary and genetic anomalies, improper rest, lack of exercise; inadequate and improper nutrition; overindulgence; foods tainted by pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, fertilizers and preservatives; improperly cooked and/or processed foods; contaminated water; air pollution; stress, bodily insults and trauma; and the relative virulence and density of pathogenic organisms (bacteria and viruses). In addition to these factors, disturbances of the nervous system mediated primarily by the musculoskeletal system may also be an important factor contributing to disease etiology.Chiropractic maintains that proper structural and biomechanical integrity are important for the maintenance of homeostatic balance and resistance to disease. Agents that irritate bodily organs and structures, upset homeostasis, precipitate a bodily response that is mediated in part by the nervous system. An impaired nervous system may diminish the body’s defensive capabilities, its ability to adapt to internal or external stress and environmental change thus contributing to its susceptibility to disease etiology.
Conversely, an impaired nervous system may affect adversely homeostatic balance, lowering bodily resistance as sometimes evidenced by functional disturbances without overt pathology, and which tend to weaken the body’s ability to resist disease. In this manner, the nervous system may be the root of some pathological process.
2. Disturbances of the nervous system may be the result of derangements of the musculoskeletal structure.
3. Disturbances of the nervous system may aggravate pathological processes in various parts or with various functions of the body. Vertebral and pelvis subluxations, for example, may be involved in common functional disorders of a visceral and vasomotor nature, and at times may produce phenomena that relate to the special organs.
Other more modern definitions expand upon Subluxation models. (I like these better.)
The Three Dimensional model:
A functional view consisting of:
– Dysponesis: Aberrant energy exertion. As Defined in Dorlands Medical Dictionary, Dysponesis is “a reversible physiological state consisting of unnoticed, misdirected neurophysiologic reactions to various agents, environmental events, bodily sensations, emotions and thoughts and the repercussions of these reactions throughout the organism. These errors in energy expenditure which are capable of producing functional disorders, consist mainly of covert errors in action potential output from the motor and pre-motor areas of the cortex and the consequences of that output.”
– Dysautonomia: A disturbance in the autonomic nervous system function (Sympathetic and Parasympathetic)
– Dyskinesis: Disturbance in position and movement of the involved segments.
The common feature is aberrant neurological function associated with a change in bio-mechanical function. The result of a stress or stressors over and above to what the body can adapt to at that given point in time is a subluxation.
The Two Component model (I like this least. It is far too simplistic.)
A change in the bio-mechanical structure of the spine resulting in an impact on the nervous system.
The 5 Component model (I like this model best.)
Subluxation consists of:
Kinesiopathology: Abnormal bio-mechanical motion of the spine. The vertebrae are not moving correctly which can lead to physical changes such as degeneration.
Myopathology: Abnormal muscle function. Abnormal neurological input results in a muscular response that alters the position and motion of the vertebrae.
Neuropathology: Abnormal neurological function. Irritation to the nerves that can alter their function. This can be on a biochemical, and or physical resulting in altered function.
Histopathology: Soft tissue changes as a result of altered function. This can affect the tendons, ligaments, discs and blood supply of the region.
Pathophysiology: The pathologic effects of long-term subluxation often characterised by degeneration of joints and pathology as a result of altered neurologic function.
CHIROPRACTIC SCOPE OF PRACTICE: OREGON
Chiropractors in Oregon are licensed to treat the joints of the spine and extremities to restore normal motion, reduce nerve interference and to restore health. The chiropractor is a doctor, meaning that they are authorized to take responsibility for the care of any patient for any condition and make referrals for the care best suited for a particular need. Contrary to popular belief, Chiropractors treat many conditions other than back pain. Chiropractors can take and interpret x-rays, draw blood and perform and interpret laboratory tests, perform physiotherapy such as ultrasound and interferential electric stimulation, prescribe diets designed to address illnesses and allergic reactions, suggest vitamins and herbs for health support, discuss over-the-counter drugs, plan exercise programs, perform injury rehabilitation, and even cast broken bones. Chiropractors do perform physical examinations, school physicals, urinary/proctologic/prostate exams, gynecological examinations, and can sign birth and death certificates. By registering to do so, chiropractors in Oregon can also perform minor surgical procedures and even deliver babies by natural childbirth.
THE DOCTOR OF CHIROPRACTIC
A Highly Educated Care Giver
Chiropractic is the third largest healing profession There are more than 40,000 doctors of chiropractic practicing in the United States alone, treating millions of Americans each year. Chiropractic is the third largest doctoral level health profession in the United States, after medicine and dentistry. Chiropractic care is safe, effective and affordable. It is natural, hands-on health care without the use of drugs or surgery. As mentioned above, doctors of chiropractic are licensed to practice in all 50 states and in many nations around the world.
To be accepted at a chiropractic college, a student must have completed a minimum of two years of college (pre-chiropractic) with a prescribed science content, including biology, physics, general or inorganic chemistry and related lab work.Chiropractic colleges require four to five academic years of professional resident study, including clinical experience under strict supervision. Curriculum includes no less than 4,200 hours of classroom, laboratory and clinical experience – all aimed at preparing the doctor of chiropractic to be a primary health care provider.
Like medical doctors, doctors of chiropractic are extensively trained in the healing sciences. Indeed, in some areas, such as anatomy, physiology, rehabilitation, nutrition and public health, their curriculum matches or exceeds that reported by medical schools.
Some Early History
Hippocrates, the celebrated Greek physician, wrote “Get knowledge of the Spine, for this is the requisite for many diseases”. Two of his books, “Manipulation and Importance to Good Health” and “On Setting Joints by Leverage” emphasize the importance of the spine. Claudius Galen, another famous Greek physician, corrected a paralysis of the right hand of a Roman scholar by adjusting the neck vertebrae. He was given the title “Prince of Physicians” and also recognized the importance of the nervous system when he wrote, “Look to the nervous system as the key to maximum health.”
For more information on chiropractic, visit the American Chiropractic Association (ACA).