Chiropractic care is one of several ways to naturally relieve the common ailments of neck pain, back pain, and headaches. However, the benefits to seeing a chiropractor doesn’t stop at the physical pains. It can help with the entire body head to toe including the gut and the ability to think with clarity. And this doesn’t apply just for an adult, but for kids, too. How do you determine if chiropractic care is a good fit for your family? Here is some information from our family’s personal experiences to consider when making that decision.
This article first appeared in The Fibromyalgia Magazine, August 2018. Get the digital copy of the magazine from Pocketmags.
Disclosure: I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post, but these are products I recommend and have verified and/or used.
Finding the right chiropractor
This year has been especially difficult for me when it comes to fibromyalgia symptoms. After experiencing extreme fatigue, numbing in my extremities, loss of appetite, depression, and heightened anxiety day after day for weeks, I was at my wit’s end. I had no idea what was causing the flare up, but I needed to find the source. A friend, who is also a fibromyalgia coach, talked with me about what I was experiencing, and suggested a chiropractor to help address some of the potential culprits causing the issues.
When chiropractic care was first suggested to me, I immediately tensed up. There were so many questions and hesitations I had about it, and I did not know how to overcome those issues. Once I told my friend about it, she advised me to voice these concerns to the chiropractor before I scheduled my first appointment. It was pointed out that some chiropractors offer a free consultation to see if it’s a good fit, and it was best to use this to my advantage.
Questions to ask the chiropractor
Let’s be honest about how I went about the process of selecting my chiropractor. I found the closest chiropractor to my home and researched the practice online. The doctor’s background story, treatments, testimonials, blogs, services, and more were on the website. The practice is small, family-oriented and geared towards holistic treatments. This was a good first step, so I took the next step: meeting the chiropractor.
Instead of scheduling a consultation, I drove over to the office and walked in. The doctor came out to greet me and introduced himself. I didn’t list my issues or my hesitation with his field of expertise, but did let him know chiropractic care was suggested to me and I had a few questions about him and his practice.
- What is his philosophy when it comes to chiropractic care?
- How are adjustments done?
- What is the prep and recovery for each session?
- How long is spent with each client?
- Are activators used?
- Does he accept children as clients?
On the spot we had a thirty minute discussion regarding these questions. It was refreshing to hear he believes in the power of the body, and that the body should be viewed as a whole – not as symptoms. And that medicine shouldn’t be the first option when figuring out a person’s discomforts and ongoing issues, but rather discovering the source of it. He said medicine is just a temporary fix in most cases (not all), and getting to the root of the cause is where he comes in.
These are beliefs I’ve had for the last few years, and I’ve never imagined in my wildest dreams, that I’d be fortunate enough to meet a healthcare provider with views aligning with mine – much less a chiropractor! How bizarre. Immediately, I knew this chiropractor and his practice would be a perfect fit for my family and me.
What is the purpose of chiropractic care?
Before diving into chiropractic care treatments and benefits, let’s look at the definition of chiropractic care. According to the Association of Chiropractic Colleges in the United States, chiropractic care is defined as “a healthcare discipline that emphasizes the inherent recuperative power of the body to heal itself without the use of drugs or surgery. The practice of chiropractic focuses on the relationship between structure (primarily the spine) and function (as coordinated by the nervous system) and how that relationship affects the preservation and restoration of health. In addition, doctors of chiropractic recognize the value and responsibility of working in cooperation with other health care practitioners when in the best interest of the patient.”
What is the spine-nervous system connection?
Many people fail to realize the connection between the spine and the nervous system and how it relates to the overall functioning of the body. I didn’t realize the intricate design of it all until I started receiving chiropractic care this past Spring. It’s absolutely incredible how the nervous systems function, how all the body systems are connected to the nervous system and how it all relies on one another in order to function properly.
The nervous system is comprised of two main parts: the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. The central nervous system (CNS) includes the nerves in the brain and the spinal column. All the other nerves in the body is the peripheral nervous system (PNS). Both the CNS and PNS include voluntary and involuntary nervous systems. The involuntary system is comprised of the sympathetic, parasympathetic, and gastrointestinal nervous systems.
Regardless of the location of the nerves in the body, all nerve signals are sent to and received from the brain through the spine. How sufficiently the signals are transmitted and received depends on the curve of the spine, vertebrae spacing, and condition of the discs between the vertebrae. If there are any abnormalities in these areas, pressure is put on the nerves.
Astonishing fact: Five pounds of pressure on a nerve results in 60% loss of that nerve. For example, if your spine isn’t adequately spaced and there is pressure on a motor nerve, you may experience fatigue or muscle weakness. If there is a loss of proper spine curvature, pressure can be applied on an autonomic nerve and you may experience allergies or stomach problems. A perfect example of cause and effect.
What treatments do chiropractors use?
Before any treatment, a chiropractor will want you to fill out a medical history form, take some x-rays, perform thermal imaging scans, and/or do a physical examination. This will help determine which adjustments and treatments would be most beneficial to you and your body. If the chiropractor skips these steps and wants to jump straight to treatments, warning flags should be waving. Personally, I would find a different provider.
There are a range of treatments to help get your body readjusted, and a majority of these treatments focus on getting the spine properly aligned. Treatments and methods vary from office to office, but some of the common treatments include:
- Manual adjustments
- Nutritional counseling
- Cold laser therapy
Benefits of chiropractic care
When properly aligning the spine, unnecessary pressure on the nerves are also relieved. The release of pressure results in numerous benefits to the body – adults and kids. Here are just a few of the many benefits:
- Relieves stress
- Improves spine and curvature helping to improve posture
- Improves quality of sleep
- Reduces neck pain and headaches/migraines
- Improves chronic conditions, such as fibromyalgia
- Improves gastrointestinal syndromes
- Reduce pregnancy discomforts
- Reduces allergies
- Reduces depression
- Improves mental health
- Boosts immune system
- Increases energy levels
I’ve experienced nearly all of these benefits, but the biggest change I’ve had is the reduction in overall body pain. Most of my body pain originates in my neck/shoulder area, and intensifies with work and stress. It radiates down and out through my body rendering me immobile at times.
Since starting chiropractic care, I’ve had a 75% reduction in overall body pain. 75%!! That’s a HUGE improvement! I didn’t experience relief right away, but after a couple weeks I could feel the difference. Once it was proving to be beneficial, I decided to have my children receive chiropractic care, too.
Chiropractic care for kids
Kids of all ages from all walks of life could likely benefit from chiropractic treatments. Recent research conducted by the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA) showed spinal manipulative therapy to be safe and successful in kids of all ages. Results included improvement in acute ear aches, upper respiratory infections, muscle pains, neck pains, and accident trauma. The ICPA also reported improved behavior, improved sleep, and stronger immune systems in kids that received chiropractic care.
My kids started receiving chiropractic care in the first week of June. Initially, it was for preventive care; however, after reviewing the results of their intake exams, I realized there were some problematic areas needing to be addressed first. My kids play about 3-4 hours of electronics per day during the week, and double that amount on the weekends. The angle of their heads while playing their devices have resulted in pressure and inflammation in their upper spines of the neck. This explains their regular headaches, restless sleep, and irritable moods.
Initially, my kids didn’t realize that their posture had an impact on their body. They didn’t understand how playing on their electronic devices could be a bad thing for their necks. I could have talked myself blue in the face about it, but seeing is believing – especially with kids. After seeing the red zones in their neck areas, it was clear that the way they held their devices and angled their necks did have a negative effect. They no longer argue about reduced screen time, increased exercise (playing outside), and better nutrition intake. Overall, the kids’ health has improved and continues to improve. Once school resumes in the Fall, their weekly sessions will be reduced to once a month.
Everything comes with risks – even the good stuff. Before starting chiropractic care, the doctor should know your medical history, ongoing medical conditions, current medications, and other lifestyle habits regarding your body (illegal substances, nutrition intake, exercise). Although it’s rare, there have been occurrences in which chiropractic treatments have worsened a herniated or slipped disc or neck manipulation have in a spinal cord injury.
Read more about our family’s chiropractic care experiences at www.BrandiClevinger.com.