Chiropractic is a word that originates from ancient greek. “Chiro” means hand and “practic” has to do with what is done, meaning “done by hand.” This refers to the fact that the chiropractors job is done by hand.
The body structure
The nervous system consists of the brain, spinal cord and the nerves. The spinal cord is in fact an extension of the brain and the nerves extend the spinal cord. The nervous system controls our body function and reaches every cell in the body. Our health depends on our nervous system functioning normally and without interference. The skull houses and protects our brain. Our spine consists of twentyfour movable bones called vertebrae. It houses and protects the spinal cord. The nerves exit from the spinal cord, between the vertebrae, branch out, reaching all systems of the body, every cell of the body. The brain is like a control station, sending messages through the spinal cord and nerves to the organs and cells of the body telling them what to do, our digestion, heart function, glandular systems, adaptation to inner and outer conditions, moving our bodies and so on. The brain receives information back about the condition of the different organs. The brain uses to this information to make decisions about the orders given to the organs. Therefore it is imperative for our health that these messages are free of interference.
Why seeing a chiropractor is important
When we experience trauma, a joint can loose its position, tearing ligaments. The result is swelling inside and around the joint. If the swelling is significant it can exert pressure on the nerve root at the point where it exits the spinal cord. Pressure that equals the weight of a dime is enough to reduce the function of the nerve about 60%. This causes the messages sent by the brain to the rest of the body to be altered. People often think nerve pressure has to be extremely painful but the truth is you can have a good amount of nerve pressure without any pain or symptoms. Because of the nerve pressure the body is then not able to function the way it should. This becomes obvious when the persons health starts to become worse than it was before. This is called a “vertebral subluxation.”
Who seeks chiropractors?
It is common that people seek chiropractic help when they are in pain, but they come for different reasons. It is not necessary to wait for pain or other symptoms to go to a chiropractor. Chiropractic patients are all kinds of people, from newborns to the elderly.
The chiropractors job description
The chiropractors job is to find the joint that has lost its position, is swollen and puts pressure on nerves and help it so that it regains its position and motion as well as possible. To do so the chiropractor uses his hands. He generates a quick, gentle and a specific thrust, aimed at reaching this very goal. The ligament gets an opportunity to heal, the joint uses its newly found motion to pump out the swelling that has been filling up the joint. When the joint regains its normal position and motion and the fluid leaves the joint we get the pressure off the nerve and a better functioning joint. Then the nervous system is able to do what it does best, control the billions of cells that make up our body, which is the goal of the chiropractors work. This is called a “chiropractic adjustment.”
Since this same principle applies not only to spinal joints but also to other joints of the body, chiropractors often adjust them to, when needed. Jaws, shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees and ankles to name a few.
It is common that patients come in frequently for chiropractic care during the first weeks. How often and for how long depends on many different factors. The condition of the joints being adjusted, how swollen they are, possible damage and degeneration. The patients age and lifestyle is important, excercising, eating healthy, getting proper rest and using good mechanics on the job. When the joint becomes more stable the visits to the chiropractic office become less frequent. As time goes by it is best to come in for regular checkups regardless of how you feel. The reason is that the joint can be in trouble or heading for trouble wether you have any symptoms or not. Therefore it makes sense to keep an eye on the joint so that it can be fixed before serious symptoms arise, just like we do for our teeth. Our spine and nervous system deserve nothing less.
Chiropractic is the third largest health profession in the US. The education of a chiropractor is a five year university program. Students receive government student loans for their educational expenses. Government agencies oversee the quality of the education, giving accreditation only to shcools that meet quality standards. The studies consist of neurology, pathology, X-ray studies, anatomy, physiology, organic chemistry, biochemistry, chiropractic studies and more. The student is awarded the D.C. degree upon graduation, which stands for Doctor of Chiropractic.
In the United States, chiropractors have the quality in their education to render “primary health care", like dentists and medical doctors. This means that people do not need a referral from their M.D. to see a chiropractor. The chiropractor is capable of taking care of anybody and give them relevant advice on actions to take and professionals to see regarding their health.
In Iceland the Surgeon general and the Ministry of health issue a practicing licence to chiropractors that have received their education from accredited educational institutions. Only persons with the proper education are allowed to call themselves chiropractors.