How does chiropractic work ?
The spinal column houses and shields the spinal cord which is responsible for transporting messages from the brain to the body. This basically keeps us alive!
The spinal column is comprised of block like bones called vertebrae, which are pictured in the corresponding diagram below.
The vertebrae are stacked on top of one another to form the spinal column. The individual vertebrae are connected to each other through a series of soft tissue which form the spinal joints. Each of these joints can move relative to the other. It is these joints that make the spine essentially a movable and flexible column. Under normal circumstances each one of the vertebrae should be able to and is designed to move back and forth and to rotate, relative to each other. For a variety of reasons, it is common for the soft tissue that surrounds the spine, such as ligaments, tendons, joint capsules and muscles, to become tight. Anatomically the phenomenon of tight muscles is known as muscle hypertonicity. When this occurs, it can affect the normal mobility of the spinal joints.
Initially the affected joint becomes “LOCKED” or “RESTRICTED” meaning the joint cannot reach its full range of motion. When this occurs the joint becomes locked, an inflammatory process whereby the joint becomes tender to touch and associated movement difficult. This tender or painful sensation together with a lack of joint motion is how your chiropractor determines which joint needs to be treated in order to restore a full range of motion.
Not only do locked joints lead to pain and stiffness they can start to affect the mechanical/structural nature of the spine. Once this occurs dysfunction can become permanent as the soft tissue and cartilage between the joints can start to deteriorate due to the excess pressure placed upon them by the now abnormal joint motion. This can then lead to osteoarthritis, immobility and severe pain.
Spinal manipulation/adjustment corrects this joint motion. There is a common misunderstanding that chiropractors “put back in” misaligned bones (vertebrae) in the neck and back. This is incorrect. If there was a dislocation of bone in the neck or back the patient would in most cases be unable to get out of bed! As chiropractors we correct or “adjust” this abnormal or dysfunctional joint motion in the spine. To learn more about the cracking or popping sound produced during an adjustment known as "cavitation" click here. This not only takes your pain away but also stops the degenerative effect thus ensuring long term mobility and joint health.
Dr Thomas Lawrence
Back Pain Relief Clinic