Chiropractic is a primary health-care profession that is specialized in the diagnosis, treatment and overall management of conditions that are related to mechanical problems. The treatment consists of a wide range of manipulative techniques designed to improve the function of the joints and related ligaments, muscles, vessels and nerves. The term „chiropractic“originates from ancient Greek, meaning: „done by hand“. Chiropractic does not involve the usage of any drugs or surgery. Chiropractic treatment procedures of the spine are known to have been in use for centuries. There are documents from ancient Chinese dynasties showing forms of chiropractic treatment. Hippocrates, one of the precursors of modern medicine, gives accounts of chiropractic procedures for mechanical disorders. Chiropractic, as it is known today, was founded in 1895 by Daniel David Palmer (1845-1913) in the USA. The original practice has since branched out into numerous chiropractic techniques. With new research results being taught and applied, the profession is constantly developing. Chiropractors therefore have quite diverging ways of practicing. Ultimately, though, a chiropractor’s choice of technique ought to be governed by the patient and their particular complaint. The techniques used in this clinic are Diversified, Thompson Drop, SOT (Sacro-Occipital Technique) and various muscular techniques.
Goals of treatment
The body's main control center for our various systems (Organ Systems, Circulatory System, Biomechanical System etc.) is the Nervous System. While the Central Nervous System is safely protected by bones - the brain inside the skull, the spinal cord within the vertebral column - the spinal nerve roots and their branches run relatively bare and vulnerable into the body, forming the Peripheral Nervous System. Mechanical problems and thus nerve root irritations often occur at the point where the nerves exit the spinal cord. But occasionally peripheral nerve irritations can be caused, for instance, by muscle spasms that „impinge“ on a nerve (e.g. Sciatica). The chiropractic term ‘subluxation complex’denotes the effects a mechanical disorder of a movement segment can cause. A “movement segment” is made up of all structures that take part in a movement process, such as ligaments, muscles, joints, intervertebral discs or blood vessels and lymphatics. Irritation of any one of these components can cause local neurological effects such as joint swelling/-pain or reflective muscle spasm at the site of dysfunction. Distant neurological effects often involve muscles, skin or organs that are supplied by branches of the nerve involved. This explains the “tingling hands” of cervical/shoulder problems, or functional bowl disorders that subside when the back pain is treated. Mechanical effects can bring about false weight distribution on, for example, the intervertebral discs (possibly leading to injuries such as disc protrusion/-prolaps); cartilage can be worn down unevenly (Degeneration/ Arthritis), and, finally, static factors can cause symptoms in other areas of the body (pelvic obliquity resulting in headaches). Functional disorders of joints can occur in any part of the body. The final goal of chiropractic treatment is to boost the body’s self-healing system since without physical impairment the nervous system can return to an unimpaired function. With energy levels restored, one can better withstand the wear and tear of daily life. Thus chiropractic philosophy aims at improving the general quality of life.
The chiropractic treatment
The core of chiropractic treatment is called adjustment, which seeks to gently unlock fixated, stiff joints. During an adjustment, the joint is moved in a very precise way. It is a very fast, painless movement, carried out with little depth (amplitude) and force. Often the release of a joint is accompanied by an audible cracking sound due to the implosion of gas bubbles in the joint fluid.
Our treatment approach views the body as ‘one structure‘, purposely organized in itself with no boundaries between the various body parts. Therefore treatment may concentrate on a region seemingly remote from the site of the actual symptom. To be able to give longer lasting relief, treatment should not concentrate solely on the site of pain and symptoms, but rather search for the underlying causes:
- Headaches or neck pain can be relieved by treatment of the pelvis, as ‘the statics are realigned’,
- pelvic pain could in turn disappear as the lumbar vertebrae ‘take part’ in the movement pattern of the low back again,
- knee problems can decrease as a pelvic-instability ‘doesn’t need to be supported’ anymore or
- Muscular tension can easily disappear as they ‘don’t have to work as hard anymore in doing what they are made for: moving joints‘.
If necessary, we will address associated soft tissues, show exercises or give ideas for improving posture or habits.
Compared to other forms of treatment of mechanical disorders, Chiropractic is a relatively safe approach as it is non- invasive. Sometimes, however, muscle aches and joint stiffness can be the result of an unaccustomed increased range of motions following a long period of joint fixation. The joint can feel sensitive or tender for a few days. Occasionally static alterations can cause reactions in other regions of the body, for example, headaches following low back treatment. The severity depends on the duration since the onset of symptoms and the amount of compensation patterns the fixation has caused.
Disc protrusion or unknown disc herniation have, on rare occasions, caused nerve root irritation. However, this situation can also be brought about by daily activities such as bending, lifting or just sneezing. On very rare occasions during treatments of the cervical spine, injuries of the vertebral artery have occurred. The World Health Organisation (WHO) states in their ‘Guidelines on chiropractic education and safety’ that these injuries are in fact very rare.