What is Chiropractic?
Chiropractic is a portal-of-entry health-care profession that specialises in the diagnosis, treatment and overall management of conditions that are due to problems with the muscles, joints, ligaments, tendons and nerves of the body, particularly those of the spine( the neuro-musculo-skeletal system ).
During a Chiropractic consultation, a detailed history is taken, including the presenting complaint, past and family medical history. This is followed by a comprehensive physical examination, relevant to the patient's problem, usually involving specialized tests for joint, muscle and nerve function, as well as general medical procedures, such as blood pressure assessment, examination of chest, abdomen and so forth. X-ray films, or occasionally more specialized imaging, such as MRI or ultrasound, may be ordered. Chiropractors are comprehensively trained in differential diagnosis, and are thus capable of assessing whether or not the patient needs to see another health care provider. Sometimes, referral to a Medical Practitioner is necessary, for medical tests or treatment.
Shown above is an x-ray film of a structurally fairly normal cervical spine( neck ) with a seemingly extended( = bent backward ) 6th cervical vertebra.
Spinal examination is integral to chiropractic, and includes meticulous palpation (feeling) to identify stiff, dysfunctional or misaligned joints , that can irritate the nervous system and accelerate degenerative damage. These areas of joint dysfunction can also be found in the extremities, rib cage or cranium. The chiropractor will carefully feel the tissues and joints and record any restrictions to motion( fixations ) or tender trigger points, that may refer pain into other areas of the body. Abnormal muscle function is noted, such as tightness, weakness, or poor co-ordination of contraction, all of which may cause or contribute to abnormal strains and stresses on the joints. Posture is examined and correlated with the patient's symptoms, thus forming the basis for corrective exercises or ergonomic advice aimed at lessening stresses on the body.
Treatment aims to restore function to these damaged or dysfunctional joints, thus alleviating nerve irritation, muscle spasm, tension and structural stress to the body. Various types of manipulative therapy, mobilisation and soft tissue therapy are used to improve joint and muscle movement and function.
Shown above is a type of neck adjustment( manipulation ) called a toggle-recoil adjustment.
Specific and evidence based advice on exercises are implemented into the patient's management programme, in order to correct muscle imbalance, contracture, spasm, tightness and weakness. Diet, life-style and even mental-spiritual practices( such as meditation ) that may assist in healing and return to normal function are sometimes discussed.