Better health, from the inside out
Chiropractic medicine is an alternative approach to healthcare.
Migraines? Lower back pain? Neck pain? Acid reflux or constipation? There’s one possible solution for all of these common issues: Chiropractic care.
Chiropractic care is a specialization of spinal health and is focused on the wellbeing of the spine. People commonly associate a visit to the chiropractor with the typical complaints of neck and back pain, and while chiropractors are trained in helping patients find relief from those conditions, chiropractors can do so much more.
“What it really, truly is about is allowing people to function at a better level from the inside out, without drugs or surgery,” says Dr. Arminta Phelps with Achieve Balance Chiropractic. “Chiropractic focuses on the central nervous system, making sure the brain and body are communicating the way they need to so you can adapt to the stresses in your life more effectively.”
The nervous system is connected to everything in the body, says Dr. Ashley Emel with Compass Chiropractic & Wellness. Nerve routes run through the spine and between the vertebra, and compression or rotation in an area of a spinal segment can interfere with the functions controlled by that area, Ashley says.
“Removing those interferences can help everything work at its best,” Ashley says. “Keeping pressure off the nerves keeps everything functioning at its highest level.”
Why chiropractic care?
People choose to see a chiropractor for a variety of reasons. Some have suffered an injury or have had an accident, some have chronic health issues, some have migraines or chronic headaches, and some are seeking relief from lower back pain or discomfort. Some want correction of a specific issue, and some want to develop or improve their overall health or maintain their joints.
“Getting adjusted for wellness care is keeping your body in its optimal position where you won’t be as prone to accidents or issues later,” Ashley says. “Most people’s end goal when they come in is to fix the issue and then maintain the body in hopes of not reinjuring themselves or having a chronic issue later on.”
When the nervous system is functioning as it should, Arminta says patients can also have fewer colds and more robust immune function. Because each patient has different needs, goals, and circumstances, every new patient is evaluated so a care plan can be specifically tailored to suit them.
“When patients come in they will sit with one of our doctors and go through a series of questions about their medical history,” Arminta says. “We do an examination of the spine as well as x-rays and other tests to determine functions. Then we have different recommendations based on how intensely injured or broken down that individual is.”
There are a variety of chiropractic techniques, and they typically vary by practitioner. Some use a drop table, while others use a tool called an activator or use different manual techniques specific to their training. Ashley says some patients seek out a practitioner of a specific technique, while others look for a practitioner with a certain specialty, like sports medicine, pregnant women, or infants.
Chiropractic care for moms and babies
Both Ashley and Arminta care for pregnant women as well as infants as young as one day old. Contrary to what some may think, women can, in fact, have a chiropractic adjustment while pregnant.
“I see a lot of women who come for pregnancy care to keep nice and healthy through labor and delivery,” Arminta says. “It makes it easier to bounce back after pregnancy and delivery.”
Ashley says chiropractic care can also reduce the length of labor and ease delivery.
Chiropractic care has many benefits for kids and babies as well, although the techniques used for kids are different than for adults. When it comes to babies, Arminta says that chiropractic care can result in fewer ear infections and less colic, and can also help ease digestive issues.
A different approach to healthcare
Many people aren’t aware that chiropractic care can be used as an alternative to a primary health physician. Arminta says that those who use chiropractic in place of traditional Western medicine approach their health from a different perspective.
“We typically think about taking care of health from the outside in, instead of from the inside out,” Arminta says. “A lot of healthcare in our world is reactive, which makes it sick care and not healthcare. We are changing the conversation to being proactive and keeping the system healthy so it doesn’t get sick. It’s a different way and mentality.”
Arminta cites a study from the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, which followed 75,000 individuals over the course of seven years. Those who were under the care of a chiropractor during that time had 60 percent fewer hospital admissions, 85 percent less in pharmaceutical costs, 62 percent fewer outpatient surgeries, and 59 percent fewer days in the hospital than those not receiving chiropractic care.
At the same time, chiropractors can and do work in conjunction with other healthcare professionals to accommodate a patient’s needs.
“Maybe we provide a referral to a physical therapist or a referral to an MD for a muscle relaxer,” Ashley says. “We are great at working with other providers.”
While Ashley says that chiropractic care is great for anybody at any age, there are some medical conditions and situations where caution is warranted.
“Chiropractic should not be used in the area where you’ve had a spinal fusion because you can’t be adjusted in that area,” Ashley says. “There are some genetic disorders or some injuries that chiropractic may not be great for. You might need something else first, and then you might be able to swing back to a chiropractor.”