What is Chiropractic?
What does a Chiropractor do?
Finding a Chiropractor
Choosing a Chiropractor is an important decision. Thus, our goal is to assist you in making that decision.
First of all, when selecting a Chiropractor, you may want to begin your search in several different ways:
We recommend an interview the
Chiropractor and ask the following:
Communication and being able to talk freely with your potential Chiropractor is of paramount importance. The Chiropractor should listen to your needs and concerns, and formulate a tailor-made program for your particular condition. After you have consulted a few Chiropractors, you should have a good idea on which one you felt most comfortable with and best answered your questions.
Chiropractic Education and Licensing
Standards for Chiropractic education have been established since 1974 and are monitored by the Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE). The CCE is a non profit organization located in Scottsdale, Arizona. This organization is recognized by the U. S. Department of Education's specialized accrediting agency for Chiropractic education. The CCE sets the standards for faculty, facilities and curriculum.
A minimum of two years of undergraduate college education is required before you can be accepted into a Chiropractic college. These colleges require between 60 and 90 units, depending on the particular college. The undergraduate education must include study in the areas of biology, organic chemistry, general chemistry, physics, psychology and English.
The Chiropractic college program consists of four years of professional education. The primary areas of education that are emphasized are: classroom, laboratory and clinical study, which encompass principles and practice of Chiropractic, anatomy, radiology, nutrition, toxicology, bio-mechanics, Chiropractic technique, physiologic therapeutics, spinal analysis and adjustive techniques. This four-year program translates to over 4800 hours of intense training.
Most states require continuing education in order to renew the Chiropractic license. The continuing education programs generally involve a one to two day seminar, class and conference. Topics vary and offer continuing education subjects such as Chiropractic principals, diagnosis and patient care. Most of these programs are sponsored by Chiropractic colleges or other educational institutions.
How Chiropractors Were Selected
Consumers' Research Council of America has compiled a list of top Chiropractors throughout the United States by utilizing a point value system. This method uses a point value for criteria that we deemed valuable in determining top health care professionals.
The criteria that was used and assessed a point value is as follows:
Simply put, Chiropractors that have accumulated a certain amount of points qualified for the list. This does not mean that Chiropractors that did not accumulate enough points are not proficient at administering Chiropractic care, but merely did not qualify for this list because of the points needed for qualification.
Similar studies have been done with other professions using a survey system. This type of study would ask fellow professionals about who they would recommend; we found this method to be more of a popularity contest. For instance, professionals who work in a large office have much more of a chance of being mentioned than a professional who has a small private practice. In addition, many professionals have a financial arrangement for back-and-forth referrals. For these reasons, we developed the point value system.
Since this is a subjective call, there is no study that is 100% accurate. As with any profession, there will be some degree of variance in opinion. If you survey 100 patients from a particular physician on their satisfaction, you will undoubtedly hear that some are very satisfied, some moderately satisfied and some dissatisfied. This is really quite normal.
We feel that a point value system takes out the personal and emotional factor and deals with factual criteria. We have made certain assumptions. For example, we feel that the more years in practice is better than less years in practice; more education is better than less education, etc.
The top Chiropractor list that
we have compiled is current as of a certain date and other Chiropractors may
have qualified since that date. Nonetheless, we feel that the list of top
Chiropractors is a good starting point for you to find a qualified Chiropractor.
Common Chiropractic Problems
Chiropractors treat a variety of problems and ailments. They deal with men, women, young and old. Common problems and reasons to seek treatment from a Chiropractor include:
Many people seek treatment from Chiropractors when they have been involved in an automobile accident. Soft tissue damage is common and many times does not show up until days and even months after the injury occurred. Soft tissue damage includes muscles, ligaments, tendons and spinal discs.
Whiplash is common among people who have been involved in a car accident. Whiplash occurs when a persons spine or neck is injured when it is unexpectedly or suddenly jerked or thrown quickly in one direction and then whips back into the opposite direction. Whiplash varies in the severity of the problem. Sometimes it can be mild and heal in a short period of time. Other times it can be severe and cause chronic pain and discomfort that can last for many years. If it is not treated it can cause degeneration of the neck and spine resulting in a permanent condition.
Whiplash patients may experience dizziness, ear ringing, sore neck, headaches, pain, numbness and tingling of the arms and hands. Since many of these symptoms may not show up till weeks, months and even years later it is best to see a Chiropractor as soon as possible after such an injury.
Chiropractic techniques have proved to be very effective in the treatment of back problems and reducing discomfort and pain. Back pain can affect anyone and in fact over 80% of people will at some point in their life experience some type of back pain. Back pain can be caused by numerous factors. Some of the most common reasons include, trauma, car accidents, sitting improperly, improper lifting and numerous sporting injuries that range from being hit hard in a football game to just swinging a golf club the wrong way.
An examination and consultation with a Chiropractor would let you know what treatment would be required for your particular problems. The back is complex and is made up of the spinal cord, vertabrae, facets, intervertebal discs as well as muscles and ligaments. These complexities make a through examination important as to what action will needed and what treatment program will be most effective.
Subluxation is when one or more of the vertebrae move out of position and alignment causing pressure and irritating the spine. The irritation of these nerves tend to cause the nerves to malfunction and disrupt the signals traveling through the nerves.
Your nervous system controls all functions of your body. When the signals are disrupted and not traveling as they are supposed to, your body will not get the correct signals. When your body is not getting correct signals it is not functioning at full capacity or working as it is supposed to.
A Chiropractor is trained to find subluxations and to treat them in the most effective way. Generally, this is done through a series of Chiropractic adjustments.
Sciatica is a pain that starts in the lower back and extends down the back of the legs. The cause is from irritation of the sciatic nerve itself or from pinching of spinal nerves which form the sciatic nerve. Sciatica often affects people in their 50's and common causes include excess weight (obesity), poor muscle tone, slipped discs, poor physical shape, bad posture and physical injury.
Chiropractic techniques have proved successful in many cases in the treating of sciatica. Realigning the vertebrae helps in the reduction of irritation of the nerve. Surgery is effective but many times can be prevented.
Scoliosis is a spinal disorder that is, in effect, the sideways bending or twisting of the spine. This disorder primarily affects girls between 7 and 18 years of age. Scoliosis is not considered an hereditary disease. However, research has shown that if one or more of the parents have Scoliosis, the chances of their offspring inheriting the disease greatly increases.
With early treatment, Scoliosis can be slowed down and even stopped with treatments. Some treatments are similar to the way an Orthodontist straightens teeth. Many times Chiropratic treatments consisting of corrective adjustments can improve the function of the spine.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a musculoskeletal disorder. This malady is brought on by excessive use and constant repetitions of a specific motion. The movements can be small such as writing with a pen or using a keyboard on your computer, causing muscles to become sore and fatigued. It is common to experience hand and wrist numbness even in the early stages if this disorder.
A Chiropractor uses physical therapy and manipulates the wrist to help in the elimination of pain and discomfort. Sometimes carpal tunnel can be linked to a neck-related problem and then a Chiropractor would make the necessary adjustments.
Neck pain is a very common problem to treat and diagnose among Chiropractors. It varies immensely from slight annoying stiffness and pain to excruciating pain that is debilitating. Your neck (cervical spine) has a specific curvature. When this curvature is misaligned, damaged or injured it can cause severe neck pain.
It is important that you keep your neck muscles strong and in good condition, as they have to support your head, which is balanced atop your spinal column. Common neck problems involve the many different parts of the neck; the discs can wear down over time and discs can rupture; muscles can be overtaxed, strained , pulled or even torn; Nerves can be pinched or damaged by injury, and ligaments can be injured and torn. All of the different parts play an important role in maintaining a healthy neck.
People that are experiencing neck pain should have an exam to diagnose the underlying causes and possible treatments of the neck pain. To properly diagnose the problem, a Chiropractor will ask you for detailed information on your physical behavior, posture, working habits, sleeping habits, home and work environment. Generally they will want an x-ray and other diagnostic-type images to determine what is causing the problem. The more information and data the Chiropractor has, the better they will be able make a treatment plan.
Headaches are very common and most people experience them at one point or another in their lifetimes. However, some types of headaches can generally be classified as tension or migraine headaches. Most headaches are mild and the person will only suffer mild-to-moderate pain. Migraines, which afflict far fewer people, can be very painful. Migraine headaches have been described as brutal, severe, throbbing and even incapacitating. They can cause loss of appetite, vomiting and dizziness.
Causes of headaches include stress, chemical toxins, nutritional deficiencies and physical problems.
It is believed that headache sufferers can benefit from Chiropractic adjustments. The elimination of spinal subluxations will help the body to function in the manner it was designed to. A proper examination with x-rays will assist a Chiropractor in diagnosing and developing a treatment plan to eliminate certain headaches.
Sports health and sports injury are growing areas in the Chiropractic field. Chiropractic manipulative therapy is effective in treating neck and back pain, as well as shoulder, elbow, wrist, knee, hip and ankle/foot conditions. It is the intention of a Chiropractor who is performing adjustments to promote a full range of joint motion, loosen tight muscles, and assist in the reduction of stress from overused tissue.
Many athletes go to a Chiropractor on a regular basis to help them in achieving maximum athletic performance. Physical stress and the abuse the body suffers in many sports can misalign vertebra. When the vertebra is misaligned, subluxations can occur, and Chiropractic adjustments will be needed to correct the problems. The Chiropractor will manipulate the spinal segments into their original positions. Physical therapy can then help with the muscles, tendons and ligaments. Of course, rest and care is then needed to complete the healing process.
Pain Management of Spinal Disorders
Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts for more than three months and is associated with significant impairment of activities of daily living and/or work activities. People have affective responses to pain. Ongoing pain may result in different problems to different people. Functional impairments may vary depending upon the patient's individual physical and emotional response to pain as well as the responsibilities involved in their life and vocational activities.
Exercise is certainly the backbone of treatment in the management of spinal disorders. Patients with axial pain should be mobilized within two to seven days. Patients with radicular pain should not be at bed rest for a prolonged basis. In general, the patient should be mobilized within a comfortable level as rapidly as possible. Bed rest causes deconditioning and muscular and joint stiffness. Exercises to strengthen and stretch the back should be initiated as rapidly as possible. These exercises should not induce severe axial or radicular pain. Patients who exercise improve aerobic endurance, which improves muscle endurance. The body fatigues less and good biomechanics are maintained. In general, patients who exercise improve their overall health care and rate pain as less severe.
Medications are often used in the treatment of spinal disease. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories should be taken on a straight rather than on an as needed basis in order to obtain an anti-inflammatory effect. The patient must be observed carefully to make sure that they do not have gastrointestinal distress. Peptic ulcer disease is certainly a risk with non-steroidal anti-inflammatories. Long-term usage requires monitoring of renal and liver function. Narcotics may well be appropriate in the acute patient. Also, tricyclic anti-depressants may be utilized for pain and sleep.
Spinal injections may be quite effective. Epidural steroid injections may be delivered through a transforaminal or a translaminar approach. These injections have been proven to give significant pain relief, and the patients may get pain relief for three months. No more than three to four injections per year may be delivered. Spinal injection treatments should be accompanied by an active treatment program, which involves learning good biomechanics and proper exercise techniques.
Is chiropractic safe?
Yes. Chiropractic treatment is a safe treatment for certain conditions when done by a licensed and experienced chiropractor that correctly diagnoses the problem. However, if the diagnosis is incorrect, it may delay appropriate medical treatment. Although very rare, stroke and spinal cord injury have occurred after cervical (neck) manipulation. However, some have cited major medical risks associated with spinal manipulation. These risks include vertebrobasilar accidents, disc herniations, vertebral fracture, spinal cord compression, and cauda equina syndrome. Most serious complications occur after cervical (neck) manipulation. The practice of greatest concern is the rotary neck movement, sometimes called "Master cervical," which has led to trauma, paralysis, strokes, and death among patients.
Though serious, these complications due to spinal manipulation remain very rare having been estimated at 1 in 3 or 4 million manipulations or less. In comparison, between one in eight and one in fifteen patients admitted to hospital can be expected to contract a hospital sourced infection or suffer other significant medical complication. Other side effects may include minor pain or discomfort at the point of manipulation, headaches, and fatigue. Most of these effects go away within a day. If the chiropractor makes an incorrect diagnosis, chiropractic treatment can be harmful. In rare cases, chiropractic treatment can worsen a herniated or slipped disc. Always tell your doctor if you are using an alternative therapy or if you are thinking about combining an alternative therapy with your conventional medical treatment. It may not be safe to forgo your conventional medical treatment and rely only on an alternative therapy.
A Chiropractic adjustment is performed by Chiropractor focusing on a specific joint, using a specific force, with specific pressure going in a specific direction. Basically, the doctor applies pressure to the bone and unlocks it from it's improper position. It is the intention of the Chiropractor to improve spinal and system function. Adjustments help return the bones to a more normal position, or motion, thereby restoring the body’s natural healing.
Adjusting has been called an "art" by many. There are many different techniques, and it is up to the Chiropractor to determine which technique will most effectively correct subluxations with minimum force. Each doctor and each patient are different and may require a special separate and individual approach. The doctor will take into consideration a person's age, sex, weight and bone/muscle structure to determine the most effective adjustment technique to use.
Very few patients report that there is any pain associated with having an adjustment. It is common to hear noises such as popping sounds, which are normal and occur when tiny pockets of gas in the joints are released.
An individual's weight can play a big role in chiropractic care. With over 65% of Americans deemed overweight and 30% clinically obese, the weight issue is a common problem. Additional weight has a direct relationship to the human's musculoskeletal system. When people carry this excess weight the additional stress on the knees, hips and back create pain and discomfort.
A person's spine is designed to carry the body’s weight and to have this weight distributed properly. Excess weight forces the spine to assimilate the burden which can then lead to back pain, damage, injury and Sciatica.
Weight control is an important part of our culture. We are reminded daily in our society that being overweight is not "in" or fashionable. Just look at TV or any type of media advertising and it will soon be seen that being thin and in good shape is the current trend.
The primary goal should be to have a healthy body. Healthy bodies come in different shapes and sizes. Weight control is just a part of having a healthful body. Other factors include your diet, nutrition and the kind and amount of exercise you are getting. Displayed later on in this chapter is a chart that will serve as a guideline for checking your height/weight ratio.
When you see your family doctor, he will check your height, weight, and blood pressure, blood lipids, (cholesterol, triglycerides), and blood sugar (for people with diabetes). All of these involve medical conditions related to weight; proper weight control and weight management can help provide for a healthy body.
Obesity is basically a medical condition that describes the body's storage of excess fat. It is normal for the body to store fat tissue under the skin and around joints and organs. Fat is essential for good health because it provides energy when the body demands it, and provides insulation and protection for vital organs. It is the accumulation of too much fat that causes many health problems, including diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart disease and arthritis.
The United States has one of the highest percentages of overweight adults; it is estimated that over 36% adults in America are obese. Obesity is most common among minorities, especially minority women. Over 50% of African-American and Mexican-American women are obese. Over 20% of children between the ages of 6 and 17 fit in the obese category.
A primary concern of obesity is the risk of developing disease. Obese people are twice as likely to develop high blood pressure and over 70% of heart disease is linked to excess body fat. Obese women are twice as likely to develop breast cancer and 40% more likely to develop colon cancer. Close to 80% of Type II or non-insulin dependent diabetics are obese.
Obesity is partially determined by genetic makeup. Research had revealed that basal metabolic rate and the size and number of a person's fat cells help in determining the amount of weight loss that is possible. When calories from food intake equal the amount of energy that the body requires to function, the weight remains the same. However, when more calories are consumed that the body needs, the body will store the extra calories, resulting in weight gain.
Diets are the most common treatment for obesity. There seem to be countless diets that are promoted and it is recommended that the weight control diet be supervised by a family doctor. Most healthcare professionals will recommend a diet that consists of 1200-1500 calories per day. People who are over 40 pounds overweight may require a more aggressive approach and may be put on a restricted diet of 500- 800 calories per day.
There many types of weight-loss medications on the market today but there are also many side effects, which include insomnia, anxiety and irritability. Your family doctor can evaluate your particular condition and health issues and recommend weight loss medications under the right circumstances. Used correctly, they can be very effective in the treatment of weight loss.
Exercise should be an important part of your weight-management plan. Calorie reduction alone is not a complete long-term weight loss plan. Regular exercise is a long-term plan for long-term weight reduction. Exercise will also
improve some of the medical conditions associated with obesity, which includes high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure and diabetes.
A long-term exercise plan sometimes a requires lifestyle and behavior modification changes. This can be hard for many obese people to accept. Successful weight-management plans requires strong disciplines to control eating urges and adhere to exercise strategies. New habits need to be learned and many bad habits need to broken, such as food types consumed and unproductive eating practices.
When choosing an exercise program, an individual should consult their family doctor. An exercise program should be designed around the person's work capacity, which the doctor will determine. Exercise tests using the treadmill or stationary bicycle are the most common ways to determine and measure work capacity. Once the patient's work capacity has been determined, an exercise program can be recommended. The formula will include what the training heart rate should be and how much intensity should be expended during the workout.
An exercise program can be the most important part of the weight-management program because it will provide so many other added health benefits. Many studies show a direct correlation between physical fitness and mental achievement. It can be said that a physically fit person is also a mentally fit person.
Weight Table Chart
The following chart provides healthy weight ranges for different types of body sizes and builds.
Although their main method of treatment is the spinal adjustment, many chiropractors also use other therapies to treat their patients. The following is a brief description of some of the most common therapies chiropractors offer:
Following an injury, therapeutic stretching is an important way to prevent scar tissue from forming. Even after the injury has healed, maintaining a regular stretching program helps keep tissues flexible, increases mobility, and protects you from new injuries. Your chiropractor will instruct you on proper stretching techniques and will supervise you until you are comfortable enough to do them on your own.
Soft Tissue and Massage Therapy
Chiropractors are trained in a variety of massage therapies. Massage therapy helps improve circulation and reduce pain. The needs of these therapies vary from patient to patient. Your chiropractor will choose the best method for your specific needs.
Chiropractors commonly recommend specific strengthening exercises for their patients with back, neck, and extremity problems. These exercises can decrease pain, prevent muscle deterioration, promote joint health, increase strength, stability and range of motion, and protect against new or recurring injuries. Your chiropractor will show you how to do the exercises and supervise you until you are comfortable doing them on you own. It's important to keep up with your exercises as prescribed. Individuals who follow their exercise instructions heal faster than those who do not.
Therapeutic ultrasound is a form of deep heat therapy created by sound waves. When applied to soft tissues and joints, the sound waves are a form of micro-massage that help reduce swelling, increase blood flow, and decrease pain, stiffness, and spasms.
In chiropractic traction-massage, the patient lies face up with a pillow under the knees. A system of rollers then moves up and down the spine, gently stretching and massaging the muscles of the back. Traction-massage usually is performed just before an adjustment to relax the spine, making the adjustment easier to perform, more comfortable, and more beneficial.
This type of therapy uses light electrical pulses that are transmitted to specific areas of the body through electrodes placed on the skin. There are many different types of electrical stimulation. Some are more beneficial for pain relief or to reduce inflammation, some for muscle spasm, and some actually cause muscles to contract in order to reduce muscle atrophy.
Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation (TENS)
A transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation unit is a small, battery-powered, portable muscle stimulation machine that can be used at home to help control pain using variable intensities of electric current. This treatment is recommended to help patients get through periods of severe pain. TENS units are typically not recommended for chronic pain.
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