What is Chiropractic Care?
Doctors of Chiropractic medicine (D.C.s) adjust the spine with easy, manual thrusts to move the spinal vertebrae back to their normal positions. A chiropractor will sometimes also adjust the joints of the neck, arms, and legs. Spinal adjustments may relieve a spectrum of ailments such as headaches, certain types of migraines, menstrual cramps, allergies, asthma, stomach disorders, spastic colon, and arm, hand, and leg pain that’s due to dysfunction of the neck or lower back. Some patients with asthma and emphysema turn to chiropractic care to release tension in the chest. Research is helping to determine if manipulation of the neck helps the ears drain properly, thus alleviating otitis media — the ear infection that plagues children.
Chiropractic doesn’t use drugs or surgery. Rather, a chiropractic spinal adjustment-the application of a precise force to a specific part of the spinal segment-corrects the misalignment, permitting normal nerve transmission and assisting your body to recuperate on its own.
Your nervous system coordinates and controls the physical and mental actions of your body and enables your body systems to function and heal naturally. There is clear communication and transmission of impulses between your body and brain through the spinal cord and the nerves. Not only does the spinal column protect the spinal cord, your brain and health depends on the proper alignment of your spinal column to send and receive those impulses. If the spine is improperly aligned, there is interference in the nerve impulses, which eventually disrupts the normal brain-body communication pathways. In the end, your health suffers.
Chiropractic care helps to fix your spine to ensure it is properly realigned through certain spinal adjustments, thereby restoring the vital brain-body communication. The mind and the entire body benefits!
What Happens during a Chiropractic Examination?
The following describes the initial in office visit, which generally includes 3 areas:
1. Patient History and Symptoms
- In preparation for the chiropractic consultation, the patient will be asked to fill out forms that provide background information about his or her symptoms and condition. Types of questions typically include:
- When and how did the pain start?
- Where is it located?
- Describe the pain – is it sharp, dull, searing/burning, or throbbing?
- Does it come and go, or is it continual?
- Did the pain start as a result of an injury?
- What activities/circumstances makes it better or worse?
Patients are usually asked to provide information on family medical history, any pre-existing medical conditions or prior injuries, and previous and current health providers and treatments.
2. The Chiropractic Exam
A thorough chiropractic exam includes general tests such as blood pressure, pulse, respiration, and reflexes, as well as specific orthopedic and neurological tests to assess:
- Range of motion of the affected part
- Muscle tone
- Muscle strength
- Neurological integrity
Further chiropractic tests may be necessary to assess the affected area, such as having the patient move in a specific manner, posture analysis, or chiropractic manipulation of the affected body part.
3. Diagnostic Studies
Based upon the results of the patient’s history and chiropractic exam, diagnostic studies may be helpful in revealing pathologies and identifying structural abnormalities to more accurately diagnose a condition.
Diagnostic studies are not always necessary during the chiropractic exam, and should only be undertaken if the chiropractor has a good reason to believe that the X-ray or other test will provide information needed to guide the patient’s treatment program.
The most common diagnostic studies during chiropractic exams include:
- X-ray exam
- MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan
- Other laboratory tests
Many chiropractic clinics can perform basic X-rays, but an MRI scan and more extensive imaging studies are usually referred to an outside center.
Patient Diagnosis after the Chiropractic Exam
Findings from the combination of the above described history, physical examination and any required diagnostic studies lead to a specific diagnosis. Once the diagnosis is established, the chiropractor will determine if the condition will respond to chiropractic care.At the end of the patient’s initial visit, the chiropractor will explain the patient’s:
- Diagnosed condition
- Individualized chiropractic treatment plan (or other treatments)
- Anticipated length of chiropractic care
Enjoy this video that helps clarify What is Chiropractic Care: