As a chiropractor, it’s my job to help people achieve their health goals. The word chiropractor comes from the Latin word chiro (of the hand) and the Greek word praktikos (practical) (action, practice) — so basically chiropractic means “done by hand”. In school, when we were learning how to palpate joints (trying to decide if a joint is moving properly or if it is “stuck”) one of the first exercises we spent hours working on in class was taking a single strand of horse hair and putting it behind pages in a book and then having to use touch to find the strand again— basically a princess and the pea scenario. At the time, it was frustrating and seemed elementary— what did this have to do with becoming a doctor of Chiropractic? When did we get to learn how to adjust? But I sat there and worked on the exercise starting with a single page and eventually I could find that strand of hair beneath 20-30 pages. The point of this story is that at the very root of chiropractic we use our hands to find the smallest imbalances in the human body with muscle knots, strains, and improperly moving joints and work on correcting them.
I meet people at all points of their health journey. My favorite are the babies, just a few days or weeks old— the biggest stress to their life so far has been their birth (which is a lot) but this was a very recent happening so their adjustment is so gentle. Babies quickly fall back into place and their parents can instantly see changes in the baby’s sleep, ability to nurse, and their overall fussiness. Kids and teenagers typically do well with maintenance care– getting things moving properly during tough sports seasons or a big tubing wipeout on the lake. For many adults it can take a little more time and intervention on both sides. For my treatment, and for the person at home – working on stretching, strengthening, and even trigger point releases for muscles before the person is really moving down the health path that they’re hoping for. Usually we have to stop gaining momentum in the wrong direction, going further down the path of Dis-ease, turn around, and then start gaining momentum in the right direction of healing and wellness. The reality is that it takes much less time and energy to stop an injury or disease process from progressing when it is caught and managed early.
I often hear from patients, “I didn’t experience pain or symptoms until recently,” or “I never would have guessed it was this bad, I didn’t start to feel any discomfort until a couple weeks ago.” Why is this? Why won’t your body tell you that something is wrong earlier so it’s easier to correct and fix? The absence or presence of pain is a very poor indicator of health. Only 8-12% of your entire nervous system senses and transmits pain! Injuries, illnesses and dis-ease often manifest long before you start to experience pain because of this.
For reference, let’s look at an example case. Patient arrives with severe low back pain and pain that travels down the entire left leg. Prior to this, the patient had only experienced mild episodes of low back pain that occurred after strenuous activities which were ultimately relieved by some rest. Due to the severity of degeneration shown on the x-ray, the actual injury likely occurred at least 20+ years ago and has been progressively worsening since. So why has this person only started to experience severe discomfort now? Remember, only 8-12% of the nervous system is capable of detecting and transmitting pain.
Pain is the most powerful reprogramming agent there is for the central and peripheral nervous system. It’s amazing how your body will learn how to compensate for almost any injury until it cannot compensate further. Your body’s ability to fight for its health and functionality is extremely profound, and due to this it will often find a way to cover things up, until it can’t anymore. Unfortunately, the breaking point is when most people seek chiropractic care for the first time, and are shocked at how much damage has occurred over the years without them knowing. This marks the beginning of a long process of first managing pain and symptoms, then correcting the structural problem, and finally getting the body to a point where it can permanently heal and progress towards wellness.
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Dr. Doug and Jeanette love teaching people about health and wellness. If we haven't covered a topic that you're interested in, feel free to leave a comment and we'd be happy to give you our thoughts!