Why should you see a chiropractor? After all you really don’t have any back pain, right? As a chiropractic physician, one of the biggest misconceptions I see in our office on a near daily basis is the assumption that chiropractic care is just for back pain. This erroneous myth is perpetuated by the amazing success that chiropractors have with caring for patients with back pain in our office. It’s also the result of a reactive ‘disease management’ system that only treats people after they’re already sick.
To be honest, for a chiropractor, most cases of back pain are fairly straightforward. Making a difference in the patient’s health and moving them away from ‘crisis management’ thinking is a lot more difficult. Seeking chiropractic care for just back pain is like thinking about going to the dentist just for cavities. There’s more to it than that. The big difference is that you can replace your teeth but you only get one chance to take care of your spine and nervous system. There’s no such thing as a spinal transplant.
Did you know that the first documented chiropractic adjustment was not for back pain at all? It was for a case of hearing loss. Unfortunately, this is a history lesson that is even lost on some of my own colleagues. In 1895, the founder of chiropractic care, D.D. Palmer performed a spinal mobilization on a deaf janitor named Harvey Lillard. Mr. Lillard claimed to have been deaf for years and believed it began when he felt something shift in his upper back. Reasoning that if a bone shifting out of place could lead to hearing loss then moving the bone back should restore it, Palmer mobilized the vertebra in Harvey Lillard’s upper back, ultimately restoring his hearing.
In the past 100 years, chiropractic care has established a reputation as an alternative option to traditional medicine. Today, there are over 60,000 chiropractors in every state in the country. Chiropractors are so intertwined with treating back pain because that condition produces such a rapid improvement with little residual as to be astounding in many cases. If you read the research, though, you’ll find that chiropractic care has been shown to be effective for everything from headaches to digestive problems. It’s even effective for pediatric conditions such as colic and asthma.
Most people regularly accept the importance of diet and exercise in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Few however, other than a chiropractor, really teach about the importance of maintaining healthy nervous system function to maintain health and ward off disease. In fact, less than 10% of the population has even been to a chiropractor before.
Not many people could argue against eating well and getting regular exercise as important to health, but my experience has shown me that most physicians will actually discourage chiropractic care unless the patient has a back pain symptom. While this approach is in line with treating disease, this is not a ‘healthcare’ approach. To treat back pain only after it occurs does nothing to prevent the condition in the first place, minimize the risk of back injury, or maintain healthy nervous system function.
To be truly healthy, you have to reject the ‘disease management’ model that is reactive when it comes to health. To be truly well, you need to take proactive steps to prevent pain and illness from happening in the first place. I would argue that chiropractic care is most effective when the patient has little to no pain, essentially when the body is not in acute distress and can accept the adjustment and hold it.
We are constantly bombarded by physical and mental stresses. These stresses can be disastrous to the the body if left unchecked. How many stresses do you endure on a daily basis that your body has to respond, adapt, and deal with? Disease ensues when your body is no longer able to counter the stresses in a healthy way. Chiropractic care helps improve your body’s ability to adapt to stress by decreasing the physical load on the body and removing pressure from the nervous system.
To be truly healthy, you must include all aspects of a healthy lifestyle. That includes eating well, exercising, and maintaining your body’s nervous, muscular, and skeletal system. If you want to be at your best, just like regular diet and exercise, you need spinal adjusting on a regular basis.