What is Chiropractic?

Chiropractic care is one of the alternative health approaches that one can use to get healthier. It is based on the fact that the body can heal itself. Let me repeat that, since to many, this is mind-boggling. THE BODY CAN HEAL ITSELF. Chiropractic gets your brain and nervous system working properly so that the body can heal itself.

What conditions do Chiropractors treat?

If you asked this question, you probably want to hear that Chiropractors take care of headaches, low back pain, tingling, numbness, sciatica, shoulder pain, etc. However, we don’t treat symptomatic conditions. The only condition that we treat is a malfunctioning nervous system. As we improve the function of your nervous system, your symptom, whatever it is, usually goes away or decreases in severity.

How do I select a doctor of Chiropractic?

The best way is to ask a friend a few questions about who they see. Five questions to ask:

  1. If you could start all over, would you still go to that chiropractor?
  2. How well does your Dr. listen?
  3. Does your Dr. adjust extremities like the shoulder, feet, knees?
  4. Does your Dr. take x-rays?
  5. Does your Dr. educate you on why he/she is doing this or that?

Location is also a common issue, especially in this valley; but keep in mind that a better Doctor is worth the time to drive to their office, over a cheap, less expensive Dr. that may be closer.

Does Chiropractic treatment require a referral from an MD?

No. Chiropractors are fully licensed by the State of California and as such, can accept people for care without an MD’s referral. The only time that an MD’s referral is necessary is if a very restrictive insurance policy, usually an HMO, requires it. Ask yourself this: do you need a referral from an MD to see a dentist? Of course not. Same thing with Chiropractic.

Is Chiropractic treatment safe?

Yes it is. A number of studies have shown that Chiropractic care is not only safe, but cost effective. Not only that, but Chiropractors are skilled at giving gentle adjustments. After all, we study and practice our art for 4 ½ years in Chiropractic college before graduation. A study by Hawk found an approval rating among Chiropractic patients of 85%.

Reference: Hawk C, Long CR, Boulanger KT. “Patient satisfaction with the Chiropractic clinical encounter: Report from a practice-based research program”. Journal of the Neuromusculoskeletal System 2001:9(4), pp. 109-117. “Chiropractic Is Past the Demonstration Project Stage,” Bonnie Hillsberg, DC, MHA, Med, Dynamic Chiropractic Vol. 27, #12.

Is Chiropractic treatment appropriate for children?

When you consider that many babies, toddlers, infants and children who see a Chiropractor have fewer and less serious colds than their non-treated friends, that colic usually goes away without drugs in a few visits, that for many bedwetting stops, that often earaches disappear overnight, that nursing many times improves because a baby can turn his/her head both ways for feeding, that constipation usually goes away quickly – again without drugs, that asthma responds well to Chiropractic care, then yes, I’d say that Chiropractic is appropriate for children.

How can that be? Children don’t usually complain of back pain.

All of the above conditions are due either in whole or in part, to a nervous system that isn’t allowing the child’s immune system to be as strong as it could be, that isn’t telling the bladder sphincter muscle to tighten up, etc. Chiropractic care restores the nervous system to proper functioning levels so that the body can heal itself. When that happens, organs and muscles work the way they should, and these symptoms resolve. It’s as straight forward as that.

Add’l info at: Dynamic Chiropractic, Dr. Peter Fysh, “Low Cost Health Care for Children”, Vol. 11, #18; and “Spinal Subluxations in Children”, Part II, Vol. 13, #4. “Chiropractic – Is It Safe for Children?” Dr. Claudia Anrig, Dynamic Chiropractic, Vol. 16, #19, for additional studies and references.

Are Chiropractors allowed to practice in hospitals or use medical outpatient facilities?

Yes and No; it depends on the particular hospital. Some do and some don’t. The same applies to medical outpatient facilities.

Do insurance plans cover Chiropractic?

Most PPO plans do cover Chiropractic care; and the coverage is usually on the low side. Most HMO plans don’t cover Chiropractic, and if one does, it usually requires an MD referral as a requirement.

What type of education and training do qualified Chiropractors have?

Chiropractic colleges and universities require a 4 year undergraduate degree, with an emphasis on the science courses, and then 4 ½ years of Chiropractic school.

How is a Chiropractic adjustment performed?

Some adjustments are done manually; others are done with an instrument. It’s hard to describe here how the manual adjustments are done, given that it takes 4 ½ years to teach and learn it. Suffice it to say that the manual adjustments are usually performed with the patient laying down, are gentle, are performed on a specific vertebra, and in a specific direction. This is one reason why Chiropractic care gets such great results.

The instrument adjustments use a rubber tipped thumper that delivers a very soft and rapidly repeating thumping on the particular vertebra. Most of my adjustments are done with patients standing while I use an adjusting instrument. The adjustments are so gentle that babies stay asleep during their adjustment.

Is Chiropractic treatment ongoing?

No and Yes. No in the sense that you can stop at any time; or you can stop after your initial intensive phase of care is finished (translate that to mean when the pain is mostly or all gone and your spine has been corrected, rehabbed and strengthened).

Yes, care is ongoing if you want. The reason would be to maintain the improvements that you’ve received. It’s much like dentistry; to keep your teeth healthy, regular checkups are needed. It’s the same with your spine and nervous system. You do the same with your car, your clothes, your eyes and your hair. Your nervous system, being rather important, also needs periodic maintenance.

Why is there a popping sound when a joint is adjusted?

With manual adjustments there often is a ‘popping’ sound. Not so with instrument adjusting. The ‘popping’ sound is due to a gas bubble forming in the joint when the adjustment is given. The bubble comes from gases that are dissolved in the joint fluids. Here’s where it gets technical: when the adjustment is given, the fluid pressure in the joint becomes less than the pressure of the gases in the joint; the gas pressure, now being greater, causes the gases to form a bubble which ‘pops’ upon doing so. Twenty minutes after the adjustment the gas bubble dissolves back into the joint fluid.

What is an adjustment?

And adjustment is how we get the nervous system to work properly. It’s usually done manually, meaning the Dr. uses his/her hands, places them in a precise manner, to gently and scientifically get the vertebra to move which stimulates the nerve so that the nerve works more like it should. Sometimes an instrument is used to give the adjustment.

How does Chiropractic work?

Keep in mind that Chiropractic doesn’t cure anything. It’s your own body that does the healing. Chiropractic adjustments simply get the communication between your brain (i.e. your in-born doctor) and your body (i.e. your built-in drug store) restored so that your ‘drug store’ makes the drugs you need to be healthier. It is that simple!

What do Chiropractic doctors do?

We restore the nervous system to optimal function by means of adjustments to the spine and extremities, by means of rehabilitative exercises, by means of advice on proper nutrition and exercises.

What rehabilitative exercises do you have in your office?

I have three types, all of which are designed to hydrate the discs of the neck, mid back and low back. By keeping the discs hydrated, disc degeneration is slowed down – sometimes stopped, and spinal joints are lubricated, both of which help to reduce nerve irritation and make you healthier.

Am I too old for Chiropractic care?

You’re only too old for Chiropractic care if you are on the other side of the grass. All kidding aside, the elderly might seem too frail or inflexible for Chiropractic care. In these cases I would not use manual adjustments which usually cause the ‘popping’ that is associated with adjustments. Instead I would only use the adjusting instrument as described above. With this tool, there is no bending or twisting of the elderly spine, nor is there any ‘snap, crackle, or popping’. This style of adjusting is very, very gentle.

Can I speed the healing process?

Absolutely, here’s 5 top suggestions:

  1. Drink half of your body weight in water in ounces every day. And yes, you’ll pee a lot which is a good thing and sure beats being sick.

  2. Get more sleep; try just an extra half-hour every night.

  3. Take a really good, liquid, whole food supplement.

  4. Eat organic. Yes it costs more; but it’s cheaper than buying medicine.

  5. Do a modicum of exercise. Come on, there is SO much truth to the saying: ‘If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.’ And at age 80, if you’ve lost it, it’s awfully hard to find.

Can I adjust myself?

Well … yeah … if your name is Gumby. Otherwise, no you can’t adjust yourself. And even if you could reach around your body to push on a specific vertebra, how would you know which one is irritating the nerve that’s causing your problem, and how would you know which way to push on it, eg. left to right, right to left, up to down, down to up?

Are all patients adjusted the same way?

Heck no. Every patient in my office receives individualized care plans and adjustments specific to his/her needs.

Do I have a slipped disc?

Truth be told … there is no such thing as a slipped disc. What is usually meant by a slipped disc is a herniated disc, which, believe it or not, may or may not cause symptoms. And yes, Chiropractic care can help herniated discs.

Do I have a pinched nerve?

A ‘pinched’ nerve occurs when there is severe degeneration or a severely herniated disc. These are difficult to manage Chiropractically. When most people describe themselves as having a pinched nerve, it is usually not a pinched nerve. Irritation from improper motion of the vertebra sets off the pain nerves. Adjustments restore proper vertebral motion which removes the irritation to the pain nerves, and guess what? The pain reduces or goes away.

At what age should Chiropractic care begin?

A newborn should have its spine checked shortly after birth – anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, and sooner if there are symptoms such as difficulty nursing or sleeping. The reason is that the birth process is very traumatic to a baby’s spine, especially if the birth was via C-section, forceps, or vacuum extraction, or if the labor was very hard. Consider that the uterus is pushing from the baby’s bottom, the baby’s head is up against mom’s pubic bone, and its neck is being scrunched, causing a neck vertebra, usually the first one, to irritate a nerve. The nerves from the upper neck go to: the ears, heart, lungs, and organs of digestion. No wonder many babies develop ear problems, colic, and digestion problems. BTW, babies usually sleep through their adjustments in my office.

Is it bad to “crack” your neck or back a lot?

Yes it is; and the reason is that you can wind up over-stretching the ligaments, and once they’re overstretched, they don’t bounce back to their original length. Ligaments are somewhat like rubber bands: after so many stretching’s, the rubber band tears and doesn’t rebound back. When that happens to your ligaments, your joints lose their stability. To make your joints stable, your bones will grow spurs. Read that as arthritis.

Can spines automatically go back in place?

Sometimes that can happen after someone falls down a flight of stairs. I wouldn’t try it though. So the answer is no.

What is a subluxation?

A subluxation is the inability of your nervous system (your brain, spinal cord, and all the peripheral nerves) to respond and adapt to your environment. For example, if it’s cold you’ll shiver to stay warm. If it’s hot you’ll sweat to stay cool. If you have a virus inside you, you’ll develop a fever to fry the bugger and thereby kill it. If you stand up, your blood pressure should momentarily rise to literally ‘squirt’ blood vertically a few feet to keep your brain filled with blood. If your nervous system doesn’t respond and adapt to that change in your environment, you’ll get dizzy and perhaps faint from a lack of blood in the brain. That then will get your brain on a horizontal level with your heart, making it easier to get blood to the brain so that you survive. Brains don’t like to be without blood, you know; it’s bad for survival.

Can I tell if I have a subluxation without consulting a chiropractor?

Yes. Usually any symptom will be due to a subluxation. Also, after your nervous system has become well-tuned to handle the changes that your body must adapt and respond to, e.g. changes in temperature from outdoors to indoors, changes in blood sugar levels after eating candy or an apple, changes of position from sitting to standing, then you’ll be able to sense when something isn’t right in your body. There’s no soreness, but since you’ve gotten used to feeling ‘near perfect’, you’ll know when you’re not there anymore.

Is Chiropractic similar to massage?

No. Massages loosen up the muscles. Chiropractic care ‘loosens up’ the nervous system. More details: most problems have two basic components – a joint problem and a muscle problem. Massage therapists do very well with the muscle component. Chiropractors do very well with the joint component (remember, that’s where the nerve irritation is) and most of the time the muscle component can be handled with one of the Chiropractic techniques, such as working on the spindle cells of a muscle, or working on the reflex points of a muscle.

Do Chiropractors have medical (M.D.) degrees?

No; we have Chiropractic (D.C.) degrees which allows us,* “(2) As part of a course of Chiropractic treatment, a duly licensed chiropractor may use all necessary mechanical, hygienic, and sanitary measures incident to the care of the body, including, but not limited to, air, cold, diet, exercise, heat, light, massage, physical culture, rest, ultrasound, water, and physical therapy techniques in the course of Chiropractic manipulations and/or adjustments.”
*State of California, Rules and Regulations, Title 16, Division 4, Section 302(a)(2).

Can a person with a broken back or neck see a chiropractor?

Yes and No. It depends on the fracture. Several examples: a compression fracture to the front of a thoracic or lumbar vertebra is usually relatively uncomplicated and responds readily to Chiropractic care. A fracture to a neck bone is best left alone until full healing takes place; but that person can still have the rest of his/her spine checked for nerve irritation and get those areas adjusted. And everything heals better with an intact nervous system, including fractures.

Do Chiropractors believe in medicine and surgery?

There is a time and place for medicine and surgery. For example, a diabetic will need insulin, a compound fracture needs surgery; severe pain after a car accident – give me pain pills; copious blood oozing out of my body after motorcycle accident – get me to an MD. I want some stitches.

Can I go to a chiropractor if I’m under medical care?

Absolutely. In fact, you’ll probably respond better to your medical or P.T. care due to a better functioning nervous system. Remember, your nerves control everything, and that’s what we fix.

What happens on the first visit to your office?

You will fill in a form that asks, of course, for your name, address, phone, etc. It will also ask you to mention your health concern(s), when they started, etc.

You will then have a consultation with me where I ask more detailed questions to get an idea of what’s going on. After that I will do a very detailed exam to find where your nerves are being irritated and inflamed, which vertebrae are causing the problem, followed by x-rays.

That ends the first visit. You’ll be scheduled along with your spouse/significant other if necessary for your report. In the report I will answer 4 key questions I know you’ll have:

  1. What is the cause of your problem?
  2. Can I help you and how?
  3. How long will it take?
  4. And how much will it cost?

What happens during a regular visit to a chiropractor?

You’ll get your adjustment and then do your rehab exercises. Depending on the seriousness of your case, your visit could be anywhere from 10-30 minutes long. I’ll be able to give you a better approximation of time after your detailed examination.

How effective is Chiropractic care?

According to a study by Sarnat and Winterstein*, Chiropractic patients were;

  • hospitalized 60 % less than medical patients
  • had 60% fewer outpatient surgeries
  • had 85% fewer drug expenses than medical patients.

Those are some impressive numbers! How can Chiropractic achieve these kinds of results? Because Chiropractic practices can find problems and help your body fix them, before they become symptomatic.

*Sarnat RL, Winterstein J, Cambron JA. Clinical utilization and cost outcomes from an integrative medicine independent physician association: an additional 3-year update. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, May 2007.

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