When you go to a chiropractor, you receive a comprehensive back treatment program. Although these doctors are primarily known for adjustments, they are often experts in physical therapy for the back and other measures that can help you with pain. However, the chiropractic adjustment remains the corner stone of their treatment, and it is often the least understood technique that chiropractors employ. Adjustments should never be performed by someone who is not a trained and experienced professional. With gentle attention, chiropractic adjustments can be beneficial and can stop back pain entirely.
At SoCal Pain Center, we use chiropractic manipulation for many different types of conditions, such as back pain, neck pain, or a herniated disc. We have an experienced chiropractor on staff that can help you understand chiropractic better, and we work closely with medical doctors to ensure all methods of back treatment are included.
What is Subluxation?
Subluxation is the technical term for a vertebra that is out of alignment. In the normal course of your daily activities, the spine endures many mechanical stresses. These stresses can sometimes overwhelm the protective measures of the back, such as strong ligaments and supportive muscles. When they cannot hold the spine in its proper place, the vertebrae slip out of alignment.
When the bones of the spine are out of alignment, they can press against the nerves that run close to the spinal column. Nerves that are impinged in this way can send faulty signals of pain, and the goal of chiropractic adjustment is to realign the vertebrae. When they are back in alignment and the nerves are free to operate effectively, your back pain clears up, and you are pain free. The resolution of subluxation is the reason that chiropractic adjustments are so helpful in relieving back pain.
Process of Adjustment
Adjustment is a delicate procedure that should not be attempted by anyone who is not qualified to practice chiropractic. When a chiropractor adjusts your back, he does not simply move the vertebra back into place. Instead, he frees the bone from its current position in an attempt to allow it to slide back into its normal state. Not every vertebra must be perfectly lined up for the back to feel healthy. They need to be in a place where they are not impinging on nerves, rather than strictly aligned. Chiropractors do not force the vertebrae to move, but gently glide them into a more natural position.
Chiropractors can use a variety of techniques to correct subluxation. Contrary to popular myth, they do not crack the back. The popping you hear and feel is simply pockets of air that are released when the subluxation is corrected. The adjustments can range from a simple short thrust on the vertebra with the tips of the fingers to adjustments facilitated by instruments or the table. In fact, raising portions of the table can allow the chiropractor to move a vertebra through a fuller range of motion, pressing down past a point where the table would stop the adjustment.
What to Expect
When you arrive at the chiropractor, you will be given a thorough history and physical to determine your suitability for adjustment. If you have a neurological problem, such as sciatica, the chiropractor may refer you to a surgeon for a consultation. He may also want to perform x-rays and other imaging procedures to visualize the vertebrae more accurately.
Many chiropractors have special tables that recline you from a standing position into lying face down. These tables will also have special sections that can be adjusted upward or downward to facilitate the adjustment. Some chiropractors apply heating pads to the muscles to loosen up the spine for adjusting.
The adjustment itself should not hurt, but it may be startling. When the thrusts are applied to the spine, it is generally a shocking feeling, but it should not be painful. The chiropractor can perform a number of adjustments to the length of your spine: from realigning the neck to improving the mobility of the lower back. Each adjustment has its own procedure, from simple pressure to more involved positioning, and they each perform a specific function in realigning your spine for health.
After the adjustment, your chiropractor may determine that you need further treatment to improve muscle tone and reduce pain. Physical therapy, such as ultrasound technology, exercises, and massage, is frequently used after the adjustment to help soothe strained muscles. Your muscles may feel sore after an adjustment because they are accustomed to the subluxation. In fact, it may take several adjustments for a vertebra to stay in its adjusted state, because it is condition to slip back into subluxation. Exercises, heat, and massage help these muscles to adjust.
One treatment that is particular to chiropractors is the electrical stimulation machine. The chiropractor will place leads on the muscles that are hurting, such as the lower back, and the leads will be connected to a stimulation machine. This set-up passes a small amount of electricity into the muscles. It will feel like a pinching in the muscle, but it should not be painful. If it is painful, you should ask the doctor to turn down the intensity. This procedure helps the muscles to strengthen and can sometimes reduce the time needed for recovery from back pain.
If you have back pain and are interested in chiropractic manipulation, SoCal Pain Center has an excellent chiropractic practitioner in Dr. William Leach. Dr. Leach was educated at the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic, and he is an experienced and accomplished member of our team. Contact us today to set up a consultation with him.