Joint aches, muscle aches or back pain? Maybe you just need a good, relaxing crack in your back. A visit to a chiropractor may just be the answer.
Get It spoke to Dr Kerri Stagg about the benefits of and history behind Chiropractic, one of the most popularly used forms of manual therapy worldwide as it does not use drugs or other consumable medication and only limited auxiliary treatment modalities. It offers great potential for cost-effective management of neuromuscular and musculoskeletal disorders.
The goal of Chiropractic is to be a health profession specialising in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system and the effects of these disorders on the functioning of the nervous system and general health.
The history behind Chiropractic started in 1895, at Davenport, Iowa, USA, when Daniel David Palmer met a man named Harvey Lillard, who had suffered hearing problems for over 17 years, following an injury to his back. Palmer discovered a ‘lump’ on Lillard’s back and suspected that a vertebra might be out of alignment and pinching a nerve going to Lillard’s ears. He adjusted the vertebra, and immediately Lillard’s hearing improved. After several such treatments, much of Lillard’s hearing was completely restored. Chiropractic was born.
“Chiropractic is suitable for all ages because it is a non-invasive treatment option. Anyone can benefit from chiropractic care, including babies and children who suffer from spinal problems as they grow older and their nervous system adapts.”
“Chiropractic care has been known to successfully and safely treat many conditions and can help to reduce or eliminate the symptoms associated with various afflictions that are nerve-, muscle- or joint-related. Such neuromusculoskeletal conditions can range from neck pain, headaches, whiplash, lower back pain shoulder pain, arm and elbow pain, tingling in arms and hands, hip pain, leg pain, sciatica, knee pain and even foot pain,” Kerri says.
Headaches and migraines, sciatica, scoliosis, spinal disc injuries such as disc herniation, sports-related injuries, tendinitis, pregnancy-related pain, arthritis, sprains and joint pain – any condition that is therefore related to any joint in the body can potentially be helped through chiropractic care.
Although most chiropractors predominantly focus on the spine and how it is functioning, the biomechanics of the upper and lower limbs is also of great importance. “Chiropractic is suitable for all ages because it is a non-invasive treatment option. Anyone can benefit from chiropractic care, including babies and children who suffer from spinal problems as they grow older and their nervous system adapts.” This therapy focuses mainly on the spine and nervous system and how well both are functioning. It’s a chiropractor’s task to evaluate the biomechanical structure of the spine and to ensure that each one of the individual vertebrae are moving freely and are not restricted or fixed in any way. “Chiropractic treatment helps to restore normal movement to restricted joints and thereby helps to result in a decrease in pain, inflammation and muscle spasm.”
Chiropractic treatment, like most other forms of physical therapy, is not pain free but the discomfort of a treatment is temporary and is usually followed by a significant improvement in the patients presenting complaint. “I would recommend therapy in a wide variety of situations. As a proactive treatment that is done in order to optimise the functioning of the spine and avoid pain; in pregnant women to help relieve back pain and to help ensure an easier delivery; in babies who have been injured during the birth process and exhibit symptoms of colic, sleep disturbances or abnormalities in their movement patterns; in patients experiencing pain and or numbness as a result of their work; and in the elderly who experience pain as a result of degeneration of their spine.”
Chiropractors rely on non-invasive treatment methods and will refer patients to medical practitioners should medication or surgery be indicated. Chiropractors work with the spine and joints and focus on creating optimal alignment through careful manipulation in order to bring about pain relief for patients suffering from numerous conditions. “At your very first chiropractic session, your complete health history will be taken and questions will be asked as to what type of pain you might be experiencing. After the case history has been taken, a complete physical exam will be performed in order to assess your condition.” If your chiropractor determines that your case can be treated through chiropractic care, the treatment you will receive will generally consist of highly specialised manipulative techniques often referred to as adjustments. Such adjustments are performed by hand and consist of a high velocity, low amplitude thrust being applied to a specific vertebra in the spine.
Adjustments are safe and some patients can experience immediate relief as the normal joint motion is restored and the nerve is freed of any restrictive pressure or irritation. However, some patients require a few treatments in order to correct the problem. No two patients are the same, so be patient as your body starts to realign itself and learns to adapt to the changes that are occurring.
Text: HEIDRE MALGAS