What is Chiropractic?
Chiropractic is a health care profession that focuses on disorders of the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system, and the effects of these disorders on general health. Chiropractic care is used most often to treat neuromusculoskeletal complaints, including but not limited to back pain, neck pain, pain in the joints of the arms or legs, and headaches. Doctors of Chiropractic – often referred to as chiropractors or chiropractic physicians – practice a drug-free, hands-on approach to health care that includes patient examination, diagnosis and treatment. Chiropractors have broad diagnostic skills and are also trained to recommend therapeutic and rehabilitative exercises, as well as to provide nutritional, dietary and lifestyle counseling.
The most common therapeutic procedure performed by doctors of chiropractic is known as “spinal manipulation,” also called “chiropractic adjustment.” The purpose of manipulation is to restore joint mobility by manually applying a controlled force into joints that have become hypomobile – or restricted in their movement – as a result of a tissue injury. Tissue injury can be caused by a single traumatic event, such as improper lifting of a heavy object, or through repetitive stresses, such as sitting in an awkward position with poor spinal posture for an extended period of time. In either case, injured tissues undergo physical and chemical changes that can cause inflammation, pain, and diminished function for the sufferer. Manipulation, or adjustment of the affected joint and tissues, restores mobility, thereby alleviating pain and muscle tightness, and allowing tissues to heal.
Chiropractic adjustment rarely causes discomfort. However, patients may sometimes experience mild soreness or aching following treatment (as with some forms of exercise) that usually resolves within 12 to 48 hours.
In many cases, such as lower back pain, chiropractic care may be the primary method of treatment. When other medical conditions exist, chiropractic care may complement or support medical treatment by relieving the musculoskeletal aspects associated with the condition.
Doctors of chiropractic may assess patients through clinical examination, laboratory testing, diagnostic imaging and other diagnostic interventions to determine when chiropractic treatment is appropriate or when it is not appropriate. Chiropractors will readily refer patients to the appropriate health care provider when chiropractic care is not suitable for the patient’s condition, or the condition warrants co-management in conjunction with other members of the health care team.
Dr. Hungerford and Dr. Jones routinely counsels patients in spinal rehabilitation. Many injuries respond well to strengthening of the core muscles. These muscles include but are not limited to the abdominal, pelvic, low back and leg muscles. Strengthening these muscles help prevent future problems in the low back. Dr. Hungerford and Dr. Jones would be glad to consult with you if you are interested in this. Shoulder problems also respond well to strengthening exercises. Dr. Hungerford and Dr. Jones have a thorough knowledge in shoulder strengthening exercises as well as post surgical rehab.
Dr. Hungerford and Dr. Jones instructs patients on the importance of exercise and maintaining a healthy spine. The following is a list of activities that may help your condition.
Improving overall fitness levels aids in recovery of spine problems. Fitness conditioning involves safe forms of aerobic exercise. The term aerobic means “with oxygen.” When using oxygen as they work, muscles are better able to move continuously, rather than in spurts. Exercise has other benefits as well. Vigorous exercise can cause chemicals, called endorphins, to be released into the blood. These chemical hormones act as natural pain relievers in reducing your pain. Examples of aerobic exercise include
- Swimming laps
- Walking on a treadmill
- Using a cross country ski machine
- Using a stair stepper
If you decide you want some extra conditioning, always check with your doctor or therapist before beginning a program on your own. It is important that you choose an aerobic activity you enjoy. This will help you stick with it-guaranteeing you the long-term benefits that come with a well-rounded fitness program.
Think of body mechanics as putting safe posture into action. It’s one thing to sit or stand with good posture, it’s another to keep safe posture as you actually move with activity. You want to keep your body in its safest alignment as you go about your daily tasks, such as
- Getting out of a chair
- Taking out the trash
- Getting clothes out of the dryer
- Brushing your teeth
Safe body movement is especially important during lifting. To avoid extra spine strain when lifting, use these safety tips.
- Plan and prepare for the lift.
- Make sure you have good footing.
- Straddle your feet with a wide base of support.
- Keep the load close.
- Keep the spine stable and aligned.
- Avoid twisting by pivoting with your feet.
Visit this website for more information on spinal rehab. Nsca-lift.org
Ergonomics looks at the way people do work. It’s possible that even minor changes in the way you do your work or hobby activities could keep your pain and symptoms in check, while protecting your spine from further injury. Ergonomics doesn’t usually involve expensive changes. Even minor adjustments in the way you do your activities can make a huge difference in easing your pain and preventing further problems. Our office provides ergonomic evaluations or you may go to the attached websites to find other useful ergonomic suggestions.
Visit these web addresses for more information on ergonomics:
Before a health care professional can diagnose your condition and design a treatment plan, a complete history and physical examination are necessary. There are so many possible internal causes of pain; it is important to determine what is and is not the root of the problem. After the physician has a better idea of what is causing your discomfort, diagnostic tests of some sort may be recommended.
First, you will be asked for a complete physical history of your condition. This may begin by filling out a written form that asks you a number of questions relating to your pain. The more information you share with your provider, the easier your problem will be to diagnose. Your physical history is important because it helps your doctor understand: when the pain began, anything that could have caused an injury, your lifestyle, physical factors that might be causing the pain, and any family history of similar problems. After reading through your written history, your physician will ask more questions that relate to the information you have given. Some typical questions include:
- When did the pain begin?
- Was there an injury that could be related to the pain?
- Where do you feel the pain? What is the intensity?
- Does the pain radiate to other parts of the body?
- What factors make the pain feel better or worse?
- Have you had problems with your bladder or bowels?
- Is there a history of osteoporosis in your family?
After taking your history, the doctor will give you a physical examination. This allows the doctor to rule out possible causes of pain and try to determine the source of your problem. The areas of your body that will be examined depend upon where you are experiencing pain – neck, lower back, arms, legs, etc. The following are some of the things that are checked in a typical exam:
- Motion of Spine and Neck – Is there pain when you twist, bend, or move? If so, where? Have you lost some flexibility?
- Weakness – Your muscles will be tested for strength. You might be asked to try to push or lift your arm, hand, or leg when light resistance is put against them.
- Pain – The doctor may try to determine if you have tenderness of certain areas.
- Sensory Changes – Can you feel certain sensations in specific areas of the feet or hands?
- Reflex Changes – Your tendon reflexes might be tested, such as under the kneecap and under the Achilles tendon on your ankle.
- Motor Skills – You might be asked to do a toe or heel walk.
- Special Signs – The physician will also check for any “red flags” that could indicate something other than spinal/vertebrae problems. Some signs of other problems include: tenderness in certain areas, a fever, an abnormal pulse, chronic steroid use (leads to loss of bone mass), or rapid weight loss.
You may be asked to take a variety of diagnostic tests. The tests are chosen based upon what Dr. Hungerford or Dr. Jones suspects is the cause of your pain. The most common diagnostic tests used to diagnose musculoskeletal problems are ordinary X-rays and the MRI scan. X-rays are taken when further diagnostic imaging is required. This is a very useful tool in the diagnosis of many spinal as well as extremity related problems. If further diagnostics are needed, MRI, CT scan, bone scans and EMG studies are just a few of the more advanced tests that can be ordered.
An X-ray is a painless process that uses radioactive materials to take pictures of bone. If your doctor suspects a mechanical problem, X-rays can be used to verify a large array of problems including but not limited to: a decrease in the height of disc space, vertebral subluxations, bone spurs, facet hypertrophy (enlargement), and instability during flexion or extension of limbs. X-rays show bones, but not much soft tissue, so they will definitely be used if fractures, infections, or tumors are suspected.
MRI Scan (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
The MRI scan is a test that does not use radiation. By using magnetic and radio waves, the MRI creates computer-generated images. The MRI is able to cut through multiple layers of the spine and show any abnormality of soft tissues, such as nerves and ligaments. The test also can be used to verify: loss of water in a disc, facet joint hypertrophy (enlargement), stenosis (narrowing of spinal canal), or a herniated disc (protrusion or rupture of the intervertebral disc). During an MRI test, you lie on a table that slides into a machine with a large, round tunnel. The machine’s scanner then takes many pictures that are watched and monitored by a technician. Some newer MRI machines, called Open MRIs, are likely to be more comfortable for patients who experience claustrophobia. The procedure takes 30-60 minutes. Additional tests are sometimes used to further understand what is causing your pain.