Chiropractic is a form of alternative medicine that involves the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the musculoskeletal system. This form of alternative medicine makes use of manual therapy, especially spinal manipulation therapy. It’s important not to confuse chiropractors for medical doctors, while medical doctors have to complete a science-related 3 to 4 years undergraduate course to proceed to a 4 year course in medicine and surgery, chiropractors have to study 3 to 4 years undergraduate course, which is then followed with a 4 year course in chiropractic college. Chiropractic is gaining a lot of popularity in countries such as Australia, Canada and the United States. Studies have shown that the majority of persons consulting chiropractors, do so for most commonly for the treatment of lower and upper back pain, neck pain and so on. Although chiropractors can effectively treat back pain, they can also treat other ailments such as rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, sciatica, headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome and so on. Chiropractors now work with a team of other health care professionals, such as primary care doctors, nurses and so on. This is to provide patients with the best service they need. Cases that are severe, or beyond the scope of chiropractic are referred to physicians or specialists. Chiropractic is safe and effective in the treatment of conditions within its scope. Although there are some risks associated with this form of alternative medicine. Some of these include stroke, fatigue, which might occur as a result of spinal manipulation.
What Is Chiropractic?
Chiropractic is a form of alternative medicine that involves the use of hand manipulation of the spine, and other parts of the body that is impaired. Chiropractic is mainly used for the treatment of diseases of the musculoskeletal system. The theory behind this is that the proper alignment of the body’s musculoskeletal structure would cause the body to repair itself, even without the use of surgery or medications. The hand manipulation helps to improve the part of the body that is affected by pain or stiffness due to conditions such as tissue injury, trauma, repetitive movements and so on. Apart from the treatment of diseases of the musculoskeletal system, which usually involves the muscles, joints, bones and connective tissues, chiropractic is sometimes used in combination with conventional medical treatment.
How Does Chiropractic Care Work?
Chiropractors treat their patients by first taking the physical and family history of the patient. This is then followed up with an evaluation of the physical and neurological symptoms presented by the patient. Chiropractors help to restore the systems to the way they should function. They treat patients by adjusting the spine and extremity joints. They do this by applying pressure firmly with the hand, to reduce subluxation, and also restore movement in parts of the body that is stiff. This might cause a pop sound, due to the release from the joint. Most patients do get relief from their pain after the session unless the surrounding muscles are in spasm. Patients that are affected with muscle spasm may benefit from muscular treatments such as massages, assisted stretching and so on.
How Can Chiropractic Care Help Patients?
Chiropractic is a natural and alternative way of treating patients, especially disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Chiropractors help to restore mobility and normal function to damaged joints of the body. Below are the reasons why it’s essential to restore mobility to joints of the body that is impaired:
- To reduce the discomfort associated with musculoskeletal disorders.
- To help maintain the healthy state of intervertebral discs.
- I am improving mobility in a joint help to reduce joint inflammation.
- Improving the mobility in joints of the body helps to reduce muscle spasm and tightness.
It’s essential to restore the improve the function of joints and other components of the musculoskeletal system. This helps to keep the joints and various discs in good shape. The joints and intervertebral discs tend to degenerate over time, as one age. Chiropractors can also help patients affected by conditions such as asthma, allergies and so on.
Who Is A Chiropractor?
A chiropractor is a physician that is trained and skilled in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with musculoskeletal and nervous systems. They are capable of treating all types of patients, from infants to old adults. They treat patients mostly with hand manipulation. The theory behind chiropractic is that the proper alignment of the spine causes the body to heal itself naturally. Chiropractors can specialize in various fields; some of them include the following:
- Internal disorders
- Sports medicine
- Sports medicine and so on.
Chiropractors that are specialized on any of these specialties can diagnose and treat diseases under their field. They are able to carry out procedures that a general chiropractor can’t do.
What Should You Expect When Visiting A Chiropractor?
A visit to a chiropractor can be likened to visiting a medical doctor. They’d take the medical and family history of the patient, before evaluating the physical and neurological symptoms of the patient. As an illustration, a chiropractor would diagnose back pain after carrying out the things said earlier. This is then followed up with diagnostic tests such as X-ray, CT-scan and blood tests. After concluding on diagnosis, a treatment plan is drawn for the patient. In situations where the condition of the patient is beyond the scope of chiropractic, they’re referred to specialists and other relevant practitioners. It’s important to know that chiropractors do not carry out surgery. They are not qualified and trained to do this. They treat patients without making use of any invasive procedure. Their main focus is to restore functions to impaired parts of the body and to help maintain the overall health of patients.
What Does It Take to Become A Chiropractor?
Chiropractors typically graduate from an accredited chiropractic school, after completing a 3 0r 4-year science related course. They do not earn an MD, as compared to medical doctors, but earn a D.C also known as a doctor of a chiropractor. The first 2 years of the chiropractic program is mostly on basic medical sciences such as anatomy, physiology, pathology, and microbiology, while the remaining two years is about manipulation techniques and courses on the various fields of medicine such as neurology, nutrition, geriatrics, pediatrics, orthopedics, rehabilitation and so on. The last year of training does involve the students treating patients but under the guidance of a licensed chiropractor.
What Disorders Can A Chiropractor Treat?
Chiropractors mainly diagnose and treat conditions that concern the musculoskeletal system. They also carry out physical and neurological evaluations on patients, to diagnose what exactly they’re suffering from. In addition to assessing the signs and symptoms of patients. They also make use of diagnostic methods such as imaging tests like X-ray, CT scan studies, MRI, blood tests and so on. Some of the conditions that chiropractors can treat include the following:
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- Cervicogenic headache
- Herniated disc
- Degenerated disc
- Piriformis syndrome
- Whiplash and so on.
Some of these conditions would be discussed below, along with how chiropractic is used in treating them.
- Back pain: This is the most common reasons why people visit chiropractors. The back is divided into two parts, which includes the upper back and the lower back. Persons affected with back pain may present with a dull ache, shooting pain or a burning sensation. This uncomfortable sensation can also spread from the back to other parts of the body such as the arms, hands, legs feet and so on. Some of the signs and symptoms of back pain include the following:
- Patients might experience muscle ache.
- Persons affected with this condition may manifest shooting or stabbing pain.
- There are situations where the pain may spread from the back to other parts of the body, such as the hands, feet, legs, and
- The symptoms of back pain usually worsen when the patient bends, lift, stands or walks.
- On the other hand, the symptoms do improve with reclining.
When Is It Important to Go See A Chiropractor?
Most cases of back pain do improve with home treatment and rest. People do recover within a few weeks. However, if affected persons do not notice any improvement after this period, it’s best to go consult a chiropractor for proper evaluation, which would be followed with diagnosis and treatment. In addition, back pain, when left unmanaged can also cause a serious medical problem. It’s important to go see a physician if you experience any of the following:
- When the back pain is accompanied by
- When the back pain is accompanied by bowel or bladder problems.
- When the back pain occurs after a fall or an injury to the back.
- If the back pain is accompanied by an unexplained weight loss.
- If the back-pain causes weakness, numbness or tingling sensation in the extremities.
- If the condition doesn’t improve with rest and persists for a long time.
What Are The Causes Of Back Pain?
Back pain can be acute or chronic. It has been shown that acute back pain is mostly caused by trauma or heavy fall. In addition, it’s usually less than 3 months. On the other hand, chronic pain occurs gradually, and last more than 3 months. Below are some of the conditions that could lead to the development of back pain:
- The strain of the muscle or ligament: Strain to ligaments or muscle are mostly caused by the lifting of heavy materials, and also sudden awkward movements can put a strain on the back muscles and spinal ligaments. People that are not in good physical condition are more prone to experiencing constant strain on the back. The strain on the back would eventually lead to back pain and painful muscle spasms.
- Ruptured discs: Discs serve as a cushion between the vertebrae. However, there are conditions that cause the intervertebral discs to degenerate. This might be due to aging, trauma or diseases such as osteoarthritis. It causes patients to feel a lot of pain.
- Osteoporosis: This is a condition in which the bones breakdown is more than the build-up. This increases the risk of compression fractures. The bones also become porous and brittle. This would also cause the bones to become porous and brittle.
- Arthritis: Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis that can cause back pain. Persons affected with this condition would experience a narrowing of the space around their spinal cord.
Chiropractors diagnose patients by taking the medical and family history of the patient. Subsequently, physical examination and neurological evaluation of the patient is done. The ability of the patient to sit, walk, stand and lift his/her legs is examined. All these help the physician to determine exactly where the pain is coming from. Some of the diagnostic procedures that help physicians make an accurate diagnosis include the following:
- X-ray: Physicians do ask patients to get an X-ray done. The image obtained would show the alignment of the bones, and whether they are broken or affected with a disease. However, X-ray images would not reveal the problems with the spinal cord, muscles, nerves or disks.
- MRI or CT scans: This produces images that would show herniated discs. Physicians can see problems associated with bones, muscles, tendons, tissues — nerves and so on.
- Blood tests: Blood tests help physicians detect if a patient has an infection or other conditions that might cause pain in the patient.
Back pain can be treated with a combination of both physical therapy and medications. Chiropractors treat this condition with spinal manipulation. As earlier mentioned, the theory behind chiropractic is that the body would heal itself, as long the spine is aligned correctly. For back pain that is severe, and beyond the scope of chiropractors, medications such as pain relievers, muscle relaxants, narcotics, and antidepressants are used. Surgery might also be carried out, especially when then the cause of the back pain is structural, such as herniated disc, or spinal stenosis.
- Cervicogenic headache: This is a type of headache that shares a lot of similarity with migraine. This is why it’s difficult to separate the two conditions. However, the primary difference between the two conditions is that migraine headache is rooted in the brain, while cervicogenic headache is rooted in the cervical spine. Most headaches are caused by conditions such as stress, which includes both physical and emotional, tiredness, trauma and so on. Cervicogenic varies from other types of headache in that it’s caused by problems with the nerves, bones, and muscles in the neck. Patients may feel in pain in the head, although the pain is mostly referred from another part of the body.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms Of Cervicogenic Headache?
Persons affected with cervicogenic headache do present with some of the following signs and symptoms:
- Patients may feel pain on one side of their face,
- Persons affected with this condition may present with a stiff neck.
- They might feel some pain around their eyes.
- Patients might also present with coughing or sneezing.
- They may present with certain neck postures or movement.
Patients might also experience signs and symptoms such as increased sensitivity to light, noise sensitivity, and blurry vision.
What Are the Causes of Cervicogenic Headache?
Cervicogenic headaches mostly occur because of problems in the neck. Some of the conditions that can induce this type of pain include osteoarthritis, prolapsed disc in the neck, whiplash injury, trauma and so on. This condition can also occur due to wrong sitting posture while at work. In addition, sitting in one position for so long can put a lot of strain and pressure on the neck and base of the skull, which could eventually lead to a cervicogenic headache.
Cervicogenic headache can be severe, as it significantly affects productivity. This is why it’s important to consult your physician as soon as you notice the signs and symptoms of the condition. Your chiropractor would take the medical and family history of the patient, followed by a thorough physical and neurological examination. The physician might apply pressure on different parts of the neck or base of the head to determine where the pain is originating from. This would help the physician in forming a diagnosis.
Physicians make use of a combination of both physical therapy and medications. Physicians recommend physical therapy to patients to help them strengthen their weak neck muscles and also improve the mobility in the joints.
Other recommendations physicians might give patients include alternative therapies to reduce nerve, joint or muscle pain in the neck of the patient. Some of these alternative therapies include massage therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, acupuncture, and chiropractic care. Chiropractic care makes use of hand manipulation in aligning the spine of the patient. In serious cases, spine surgery is also done to relieve cervicogenic headache due to nerve compression.
- Spondylosis: This is a condition that causes the degeneration of the spinal column. Patients affected with this condition experience a degeneration of the vertebral bodies, which might cause an increase in pressure on the spinal cord, and lead to symptoms such as pain, numbness, imbalance, paresthesia, and weakness in the limbs. This disorder is mostly associated with aging. The intervertebral discs tend to degenerate and weaken, which would also lead to disc herniation and bulging discs. This condition mostly occurs in patients between the ages of 20 and 50. Studies have shown that one of the risk factors of spondylosis is genetics. Some people are more predisposed to developing spondylosis as compared to others. Individuals with a family history of spondylosis have a high risk of also developing the disease later in their lives. In addition, the spinal injury is also a risk factor. Injuries to the back can cause damage to the intervertebral discs, which might cause them to herniate. Patients affected with this condition might present with symptoms such as the following:
- Spondylosis of the cervical spine can lead to a headache.
- Patients might also present with back pain.
- Persons affected with this condition may feel pain, paresthesia in other parts of the body such as the leg, arms and so on.
When Is It Important to Consult A Physician?
It’s important to go see a physician if you’re experiencing any of the following:
- If the pain doesn’t improve even after using over-the-counter medications.
- If you notice any loss of bladder or bowel control, this could include the inability to stop or start urinating.
- When you notice numbness in the groin area, this is also known as ‘‘saddle anesthesia’’.
- If patients present with an unexplainable weight loss or fever.
How Physicians Diagnose This Condition?
Physicians diagnose this condition by initially taking the medical and family history of the patient. This is then followed by carrying out a thorough physical and neurological examination of the patient. Physicians would also make use of tests such as X-rays, MRI, CT-scans and so on. This would help them in forming an accurate diagnosis.
- Piriformis syndrome: The piriformis is a muscle that extends from the front of the sacrum. This muscle helps the movement of the thigh from side to side. A spasm of the muscle can put pressure on the sciatic nerve, and lead to other conditions. Some of the symptoms of piriformis syndrome include the following:
- Patients might experience numbness and tingling sensations in the back of the leg.
- Persons affected with this condition might experience pain in the buttocks and legs.
- Patients might find it difficult to sit down.
- Patients might experience pain while sitting, which gets worse the longer they sit.
What Are The Causes Of Piriformis Syndrome?
The piriformis muscle is used every day. We use it when we walk from one place to another, or whenever we lower our body. Some of the causes of this condition include the following:
- It might occur when people lift heavy objects.
- This condition may occur from the overuse muscles, due to excessive exercise.
- It might also occur from lifting heavy objects.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Physicians diagnose this condition evaluating the signs and symptoms presented by the patient. They carry out a physical and neurological examination of the patient. Other tests that help in forming the diagnosis include imaging tests such as MRI, CT scan, X-ray and so on.
Chiropractors treat this condition by recommending that patients rest. They can also apply pressure and hand manipulation of the affected part. Physicians can also make use of medications such as pain killers.
What Are The Benefits Of Chiropractic Care?
Some of the conditions that can be treated by chiropractic care have been discussed above, below are some of the benefits of chiropractic care:
- Chiropractic care is relatively safe
- It’s effective for the treatment for the treatment of conditions such as neck pain and back pain.
- It’s also effective in the treatment of conditions such as headaches, osteoarthritis without any invasive procedure.
- Personalized treatment: Chiropractic care doesn’t have a specific formula that can treat all diseases. However, your chiropractor can personalize your treatment plan to take care of your specific needs directly.
- Low risk: The risks involved in chiropractic care is low, as compared to other forms of treatment. The most common complications are the soreness experienced by patients after a procedure.
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