How Chiropractic Improves Your Health
Mary came into the office with carpal tunnel syndrome in her left wrist. It had been bothering her for 6 months and after a series of unsuccessful trips to an orthopedist and a wrist and hand specialist, her symptoms were getting worse.
Medically her next step was surgery. That is when I had the chance to speak to her.
Chiropractic Is Like Glasses For Your Organs.
This may bring to mind a funny image of a heart wearing librarian spectacles or the lungs wearing a pair of aviators but the more I think about this image, the more I think this is a great analogy to understand chiropractic.
Essentially, the health of the body is determined by the quality of its perceptions.
It is well known our five senses regulate our physical perception of the outside world but it is less well known that we have a similar set of senses that regulate the internal environment of our body.
The scientific term of homeostasis describes the body’s ability to regulate an optimum internal environment. The body regulates variables such as mineral levels (calcium and sodium among others) immune system function, blood pressure, oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood, blood sugar levels, fat storage and protein levels.
All of these monitored by the nervous system.
This shows the body has an extensive network of internal senses to perceive this information, interpret it, and then create an response to maintain an optimum internal environment.
Consider the example of a similar feedback loop by an airline pilot. For example, lets say a plane is cruising at 35,000 feet until the pilot notices his altimeter start to drop to 34,500 feet. As he monitors this, he is able to perceive the change, the drop in altitude, and make a change in the flight controls to bring the plane back up to the optimum altitude.
This is one key function of the nervous system, to keep track of the internal indicators of the body and make any adjustments necessary to keep them in an optimum range.
Going back to the example of the airplane, what if the altimeter is not working or if the pilot is not able to read the display? Clearly this would limit the pilot’s ability to perceive the state of the plane which, in turn, would limit his ability to maintain the proper flight altitude.
That is similar to internal problems in the body, sometimes the indicators can get knocked out of focus impairing our ability to make the necessary adjustments to maintain optimal body function.
Chiropractors handle the key structural cause of nervous system misperception. Your spinal column consists of 33 individual bones and 25 moveable segments. Out of each spinal joint leaves a set of nerves that connect the brain to your spinal cord and ultimately to all the organs, tissues, cells and muscles of your body.
What can happen, and often does, is a misalignment of a spinal bone can interfere with optimum perception by the nervous system of the same organs, tissues, cells and muscles connected to that nerve. This then can lead, or cause an inappropriate or no response to the changing internal environment.
If this occurs too often and for too long, we begin to manifest symptoms and disease.
Lets look at the example of blood pressure. What if your nervous system perceived your blood pressure was too low, although it was actually within its normal range of 120/80?
Then, your body, thinking the blood pressure was too low, would work to raise the blood pressure until the nervous system perceived the blood pressure was at an acceptable level.
However, if this was based on a faulty or incorrect perception, this could result in chronically elevated blood pressure that could only be corrected by handling the cause of the incorrect perception.
Chiropractors work to optimize perceptions by optimizing the nervous system. This is done primarily through specific adjustments to the spine, allowing the nerves to work more optimally and the body to better perceive and self-regulate.
Does it work? Yes it sure does. Here is an article from Web MD titled “Chiropractic Cuts Blood Pressure” showing a chiropractic adjustment is as a effective as taking two prescription blood pressure medications in normalizing blood press.
“So an adjustment to my neck can help my carpal tunnel?” Mary asked in mild disbelief.
“Lets see” was my response. “How do you feel after the adjustment”
“Unbelievable” To her surprise, her carpal tunnel, that she was told would need surgery, went away almost immediately.
“Amazing. Is it really that easy?” she asked.
“Yes it is.”
Sometimes, I continued, there can be other causes of carpal tunnel but when the symptoms of carpal tunnel stem from the nervous system misperception, there is no other way to fix it. She then danced out of my office before I could explain any more to her.
What I didn’t get a chance to explain to her on that visit, that I would go on to tell her in the future, is that adjustment allowed her nervous system to come back into focus and more accurately perceive her wrist. By doing this, her body was no longer stuck in a pain misperception cycle and she was able re-experience the feeling of health.
The reason I was excited for her was because I knew that the same nerves that perceive her left arm also connect to her heart. This is well known even in conventional medicine as a classic sign of heart attack is pain down the left arm. So I knew, by restoring optimal perception and communication to and from the left arm, we had also positively affected the heart as well.
Instead of side effect, this is an amazing side benefit typical of handling the true cause.