What Is Chiropractic?
A lot of people have been to a chiropractor and yet they are still not really sure what it is that we do. All they know is that we do something to their body and then they feel better. For a lot of people that’s all they really care about. Yet for most people they want a little more insight than a basic knowledge.
By learning more about chiropractic, your body, and about health in general you will learn when you should see a chiropractor as well as becoming much more in tune with your body thus leading to a healthier body, mind, and spirit.
So here goes! I will try to describe as best as I can in writing (little harder than being able to show you) what chiropractic is and what it is not. I will also try to convey when it would be helpful to see a Doctor of Chiropractic and when it might not be helpful and you should seek care from another type of doctor. By the way we work with a lot of different types of doctors and if the need should arise during your treatment with us we can always refer you out.
There are many different aspects to chiropractic and many different misconceptions about the profession in general. Please take the time to browse through some of the pages below. It will help greatly in understanding what we do and if we can help you.
The fact is that most Doctors of chiropractic are just that, doctors. There are some that do some pretty funky things in practice but we are not one of them. We stick with evidence based medicine. Show me the proof.
Anyway, the training to become a doctor of chiropractic is very extensive and intense. We go through most if not all of the same training that a doctor of medicine goes through. We learn about all the internal organs and all the pathology that can happen. Some of the other areas of study are toxicology, medications, biomechanics, microbiology, biochemistry, physiology, and many others. As a side note, doctors of chiropractic generally have over 2 years of nutrition and supplement classes were as a medical doctor only gets these types of classes if they elect to take them.
We are the EXPERT Alternative health care providers!
My point is not to bore you with all the different ology classes that we have to take but to inform you that we are very well educated. This is part of the reason why doctors of chiropractic are also considered primary care physicians. We are not just back doctors, at least not in our office. Many doctors of chiropractic will learn all this stuff and then forget it as soon as they are done with school because they figure they will never need to use it. They only want to be back doctors.
We DON”T! We are not just back doctors. WE WHOLE PERSON DOCTORS!
On to the education.
In general it takes anywhere from 7 to 8 years to become a doctor of chiropractic.
The first step is to attend a community college and then a regular college and get a bachelors degree. After this you have to apply to get into chiropractic school. Depending on the school that you attend the time until graduation can vary from 5 or 6 years down to 3 1/2 years. At the schools that both Dr. Mortensen’s attended the curriculum is a 5 year program if you go the normal school schedule. However, the majority of students opt for the accelerated version. This version is year round school with no summer breaks or vacations for 3 1/2 years.
So here is the basic run down of how chiropractic helps reduce pain in the joints. This explanation does not apply to certain muscle injuries sustained in specific sports injuries and car accidents. (We also treat those conditions and many others.)
The main reason that we get pain in the neck, mid back, lower back, or many other joints is the fact that the joint can get subluxated. Basically this means that the joint is slightly out of position. Most people are familiar with a shoulder or knee dislocation where a joint completely pops out of the socket. You can think of a subluxation as a partial dislocation. The joint is not all the way out, just part way. The subluxated joint has some function and movement in it but there is some dysfunction and pain in the joint.
Here is a crude representation of what a subluxation is
There are two different ways that a subluxation in the spine is going to cause pain. The first is from the joints themselves. When the bone is “out of place” it is going to irritate the joints (there are 3) in between the two spinal bones.
The Second way that a sublaxation will generate pain is by irritating the nerves that come out in between the bones. There is a small hole between the bones were the nerve exits the spinal column and spreads out to the rest of the body. When the spinal bones are out of alignment the nerve will become irritated, pinched, squeezed, or just have pressure put on it which will cause pain to where ever that nerve goes (dermatomes).
This picture is a representation of where our dermatomes go. You can think of your nerve as kind of like telephone line. After the exit the spine they will spread out to the rest of the body in a certain distribution. Whatever nerve level corresponds to a certain spinal level you can get pain anywhere that nerve goes. For example, the lower neck C6-C7 dermatome can cause pain anywhere from the lower neck, into the shoulder, outside of the upper arm, down into the outside of the forearm, or all the way down into the thumb and index finger.
Sounds a little more complicated than what it is, but once you see it in person it’s really pretty simple.
So, to wrap up. By putting the “out of place bones” back into position it will take the pressure of the joints and the nerves and allow the body to heal itself thus reducing pain.
Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
Most people think that if they are feeling good and they are not sick that they are healthy. That is simply not the case. As you can see the World Health Organization (WHO) states that health is “not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.
This is what chiropractic care is all about. 50% of what we do is make people feel better and get out of pain.
The other 50% is about keeping patients pain free and more importantly keeping them HEALTHIER.
So how does chiropractic care help make you healthier?
Here is a very simple explanation.
When a spinal bone is subluxated it will cause pressure on the spinal nerves that exit in between those bones. The nerves of our body control everything in our bodies including all our muscles, feelings, and organs. If the nerves have pressure on them they will not work right (kind of like putting a little pressure on a hose that has water flowing through it). If the nerves are not working right, the organs that those nerves control will not work right, thus cause dysfunction and ultimately disease.
A good analogy that most people can relate to is sleeping on your arm funny at night and waking up in the morning and you can’t move your arm. Basically what has happened in this situation is that the nerves of your arm have had pressure on them which affects the function of your arm.
In the same way that the nerves can affect the function of your they can also affect the function of your organs thus having an effect on your health.
This is one reason that we always recommend getting checked out on a regular basis. Whether you are a child, man, woman, pregnant, or elderly, you can always benefit from chiropractic care and get better health.