A chiropractor is a health care professional focused on the diagnosis and treatment of neuromuscular disorders, with an emphasis on treatment through manual adjustment and/or manipulation of the spine.
Most chiropractors seek to reduce pain and improve the functionality of patients as well as to educate them on how they can account for their own health via exercise, ergonomics and other therapies to treat back pain.
Chiropractic is generally categorized as alternative medicine or complementary medicine.
Chiropractors Birmingham: Fundamental Beliefs and Goals
Chiropractors focus on the intimate relationship between the nervous system and spine, and hold true the following beliefs:
- Biomechanical and structural derangement of the spine can affect the nervous system
- For many conditions, chiropractic treatment can restore the structural integrity of the spine, reduce pressure on the sensitive neurological tissue, and consequently improve the health of the individual.
The treatment concept of chiropractic is to re-establish normal spinal mobility, which in turn alleviates the irritation to the spinal nerve and/or re-establishes altered reflexes.
In many regards, a chiropractic examination is very similar to standard examination procedures administered by all health care providers. With that said, how chiropractors examine the structure and function of the spine and then determine specific chiropractic treatments separates chiropractic care from other disciplines.
Chiropractic Exam of Lower Back Pain
An initial chiropractic exam for back pain will typically have three parts: a consultation, case history, and physical examination. Laboratory analysis and X-ray examination may be performed.
- Consultation. The patient meets with the chiropractor and provides a brief synopsis of his or her lower back pain, such as:
- Duration and frequency of symptoms
- Description of the symptoms (e.g. burning, throbbing)
- Areas of pain
- What makes the pain feel better (e.g. sitting, stretching)
- What makes the pain feel worse (e.g. standing, lifting).
- Case history. The chiropractor identifies the area(s) of complaint and the nature of the back pain by asking questions and learning more about different areas of the patient’s history, including:
- Family history
- Dietary habits
- Past history of other treatments (chiropractic, osteopathic, medical and other)
- Occupational history
- Psychosocial history
- Other areas to probe, often based on responses to above questions.
- Physical examination. A chiropractor may utilize a variety of methods to determine the spinal segments that require chiropractic treatments, including but not limited to static and motion palpation techniques determining spinal segments that are hypo mobile (restricted in their movement) or fixated. Depending on the results of the above examination, a chiropractor may use additional diagnostic tests, such as:
- X-ray to locate subluxations (the altered position of the vertebra)
- A device that detects the temperature of the skin in the paraspinal region to identify spinal areas with a significant temperature variance that requires manipulation.
Many chiropractors utilise a holistic, biomechanical concept of treating the bipedal structure in its entirety, in an attempt to balance the structure from the feet upward.
A chiropractic adjustment, also known as chiropractic manipulation, manual manipulation, or spinal manipulation, is a common therapeutic treatment for lower back pain.18
A chiropractic adjustment refers to a chiropractor applying manipulation to the vertebrae that have abnormal movement patterns or fail to function normally.
The objective of this chiropractic treatment is to reduce the subluxation, with the goals of increasing range of motion, reducing nerve irritability and improving function.
- See Understanding Spinal Manipulation
A chiropractic adjustment typically involves:
- A high velocity, short lever arm thrust applied to a vertebra
- An accompanying, audible release of gas (joint cavitation) that is caused by the release of oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide, which releases joint pressure (cavitation)19
- A relieving sensation most of the time, although minor discomfort has been reported (that usually lasts for a short time duration) if the surrounding muscles are in spasm or the patient tenses up during this chiropractic care.
It should be known that joint cavitation or cracking does not occur at times, typically as a result of significant muscle splinting or the patient not being adequately relaxed during the chiropractic manipulation. At times like this, it is sometimes best for the chiropractor to apply ice, have the patient rest, or do electrical stimulation and massage prior to attempting the chiropractic adjustment.
Birmingham Chiropractic Adjustment Techniques
There are many different manipulative techniques that can be utilized in chiropractic, and there is a certain skill level and “art” involved with high velocity, low amplitude adjustment or manipulation. It is perhaps more important for the chiropractor to determine when not to apply the adjustment.