This FAQ has been compiled in order to address many of the most common questions we get in regards to chiropractic care.
A subluxation refers to a spinal or peripheral joint (arm, shoulder, leg, etc.) that is not moving in its normal motion pattern or is out of place. Subluxations create an imbalance in the spine, irritating nerves and blood vessels, affecting the way our body and brain communicate with one another and can contribute to pain and dysfunction in muscles and organs. Subluxations can be silent or non-symptomatic until the weaknesses or changes in function that they cause result in an eventual breakdown or injury. Subluxations can manifest as decreased range of motion, pain, tingling, numbness, and muscle spasm and muscle pain. They may also cause referred pain elsewhere in the body.
Accidents, injuries, improper lifting or body mechanics and inherited spinal weaknesses are common causes of subluxations. Other causes include disc herniation, muscle and ligament injury, poor sleeping habits, poor posture, obesity, stress, a sedentary lifestyle, internal organ dysfunction, causing not enough rest or sleep.
Doctors of chiropractors treat subluxations with a researched technique called spinal adjustment or manipulation, a procedure that involves applying specific pressure to return vertebrae (the bones that compose the spine and protect the spinal cord) to their proper position and motion. They may also use other tools, techniques and physical modalities
Most chiropractic adjustments are painless; in fact, the adjustment may feel good and can be relieving. If you’ve had a recent injury, soft tissue can be inflamed and cause some discomfort. Using ice after any irritation is recommended. Some people also experience odd sensations in their muscles or extremities after adjustments. This is a normal reaction to the relieving of pressure on nerves and is usually no cause for concern. It is thought by some scientists to be an increase in circulation once the irritation is removed from the nerve.
During an adjustment, in many instances, the popping sound of a spinal release can be heard. Some people associate the sound with the “cracking of knuckles.” So what causes that noise? It is not the bones cracking or popping, it is simply the release of nitrogen gases from the joint. Shifting the joint with an adjustment into proper alignment releases the built up pressure that has resulted from the joint subluxated. This shifting of the gases in the joint make a “cracking” noise.
No. While it’s true that patients often hear a “pop” during an adjustment, similar to the sound you’d hear cracking your knuckles, it’s not related to the treatment’s effectiveness.
Every patient and condition is different. Some injuries are complicated by severity of the condition. Some will experience relief after one adjustment while others will take several adjustments to find relief. The chiropractor will take a past and present health history; perform a comprehensive neurologic, orthopedic and chiropractic examination. He may use x-rays, MRI/CT scan or lab results. The doctor then establishes a diagnosis and what treatment will be most effective.
Consider the process of adjusting a subluxation to working out in a gym. In order to train your muscles to increase and maintain strength you need to establish a routine. This means working out several times a week. If you work out one day per week, it would take longer to notice results than if you trained more days per week at the gym.
It’s the same with a chiropractic adjustment. Depending upon your injury, the doctor has to “re-train” the muscles and vertebrae to stay in alignment. Instead of medication to mask pain, the adjustment is correcting your problem. However, once improvement is noted, the frequency of the manipulations and physical rehabilitation are decreased based on your rate of healing.
People of all ages are candidates for chiropractic treatment and its benefits.
Anytime is a good time for a better functioning nervous system. Pregnant mothers find chiropractic adjustments improve their pregnancy and can help relieve pregnancy-related low back, leg, neck and shoulder pain. Adjusting methods are always adapted to a patient’s size, weight, age and condition of the health.
The doctor of chiropractic focus on the human spine has created a perception as just a “back doctor.” This perception is very much incomplete as chiropractors are educated in musculoskeletal disease and an effective source of preventative and wellness care. Doctors of chiropractic are also a resource for work-place safety, stress management, injury prevention, postural correction and nutritional counseling. In addition, Dr. Hammer has post doctorate degrees in orthopedics and rehabilitation to also treat shoulders, arms, legs, knees, etc.
Yes. Unfortunately, a large percentage of people who had spinal surgery discover a return of symptoms months or years later. This too common occurrence is known as “Failed Back Surgery Syndrome.” Chiropractic may help prevent repeated back surgeries. In fact, chiropractic care is an excellent conservation option before considering surgery.
Chiropractors are well educated to recognize risk factors and signs of disease. Like other doctors, chiropractors belong to a large network of health-care professionals and will not hesitate to make a referral when it’s in the patient’s best interest.
Most insurances do cover chiropractic. It’s best to call your insurance carrier to determine exactly what your benefits are with your coverage.