What is Chiropractic?
Chiropractic is a science and healing art that is based on the premise that good health depends, in part, upon a normally functioning nervous system. The doctor of chiropractic views the individual as an integrated being, focusing on spinal health as the key to overall health and wellness. Chiropractic employs a natural method of health care that focuses on treating the causes of physical problems, rather than just the symptoms. It does so in a non-surgical, non-invasive and drug-free method.
In 1995, the chiropractic profession celebrated its 100th anniversary. Despite the profession's growth and its increased visibility over the years, in the minds of many, chiropractic remains and enigma.
The term "chiropractic" was derived from Greek roots which means "done by hand." Today chiropractic refers to a profession of some 50,000 strong, who treat spinal joint dysfunction by manual adjustments.
To many, it is still unclear as to what a chiropractor actually treats with a spinal adjustment. It should first be understood that there are many types of diseases which afflict the spine, such as a variety of infections, benign and malignant tumors, and osteoporosis. The chiropractic adjustment does not treat these diseases. The spinal lesion that chiropractors treat is called the vertebral subluxation complex.
The subluxation complex develops after spinal tissues are injured. The injury can be frankly traumatic, such as a lifting injury, or the injury can occur in the form of a repetitive micro traumatic injury, such as working at a desk with poor spinal posture.
All pathology books explain that inflammation occurs after tissue injury. It is known that the chemical changes within injured tissue cause both inflammation and pain. Texts devoted to joint function explain that pain and inflammation lead to the immobilization of the injured joint(s).
Under normal circumstances, injured joints heal and normal mobility is restored. However, if the injured joints do not heal properly, mobility will not be restored and this can initiate a series of pathological changes in a variety of spinal tissues. Joint immobilization causes spinal muscle atrophy and the degeneration of important connective tissue structures including the joint capsule, synovium, ligaments, cartilage and bone.
In summary, spinal tissue injury can result in the development of neuropathophysiology (pain), kinesiopathology (joint immobility/hypomobility), myopathology (loss of strength and muscle spasms), and a host of histopathological changes in connective tissue structures, such as inflammation and scar tissue formation. The chiropractic profession refers to these pathological changes as vertebral subluxation complex.
The purpose of the chiropractic adjustment is to restore joint mobility by manually applying a controlled force into joints which have become hypomobile. Restoring mobility is the key because joint immobility is the primary factor which allows for the development of the spinal tissue degeneration and de-conditioning which was described in the previous paragraph. At the present time, it appears that no form of treatment other than the chiropractic adjustment, can effectively and thoroughly restore mobility to injured joints.