Healing from within has been the major strength of chiropractic ever since the first intentional and scientifically executed chiropractic adjustment ever given helped a man who had been deaf for over twenty years, hear again.
In fact, though most people come to chiropractors to help relieve pain in their bodies, few would say that what they receive from the adjustment is just pain relief. The majority of chiropractors I know feel they share a higher purpose than simply temporary pain relief. Most chiropractors are in it because they have seen the quality of life changes in their patients, they have witnessed people who felt hopeless and resigned get their joie de vivre back. They have been the last resort for skeptics who went on to see their lives turned right-side-up. These chiropractic skeptics were people who came in exhausted and sick, but once the interference from their spines and nervous systems was removed, they could let their body do what it does best: create balance and restore them to health.
This year I will be focusing on chiropractic. Since there is very little media exposure about chiropractic and individual chiropractors and they don’t have the advertising budgets that hospitals and pharmaceutical companies do, I hope to shed light on what the fastest growing natural healthcare discipline is, why and how it works, and for what health challenges chiropractic is effective. I hope to teach you something you did not already know and share the wisdom of natural health care. I will also include home wellness and prevention tips that have to do with maintaining and correcting this most important of organs – the master computer of the body that coordinates billions of wellness messages and keeps our bodies in balance, keeps us responding appropriately to all kinds of stress, fights off diseases, and kills cancer every single day: the nervous system, the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves.
The spine, which is made up of individual bones called vertebrae, has everything to do with whether those wellness messages are able to get out from the brain to the body and back again. This dance of back and forth communication is how the brain gets information or “status updates,” to use a common parlance, about what is going on in the body. At any one moment the brain is receiving and responding to thousands of inputs from the body. These inputs include the physical, biochemical (think balancing out the oxygen/carbon dioxide, acid/base, and billions of other chemical reactions), and proprioceptive (think, balance, sensing hot cold, touch, pressure pain) information from the body.
In an ideal spine, these messages can get through without interference and the brain can respond to them, making the adjustments it needs to maintain health in the body. In the ideal spine, there is no pull on either the spinal cord by postural distortions – a head that is too far forward or a torso that is shifted to the right or the left, for example – what corrective chiropractors call “global” subluxations. When a person’s spine is not ideal and has global subluxations, even an inch of postural distortion away from the gravity line, or the place where the spine is designed to exist, can put 25 pounds of pressure for every inch the spine deviates away from this gravity line.
In an ideal spine there are also no individual subluxations, or no vertebrae that are stuck in abnormal positions. This is what most chiropractors are focused on correcting. These individual subluxations cause interference with specific peripheral nerves that exit between each of the vertebrae. Each of these peripheral nerves is like the power lines that go to each of our houses. Each one carries a set of messages from the brain to a specific set of organs (usually just one), a specific set of muscles and soft tissues, such as blood vessels, fascia, or connective tissue.
Each of these peripheral nerves also carries pain nerves and sensory nerves for a particular area of the body. Individual subluxations are like a tree falling on the power lines that go to your house. Research conducted at the University of Colorado at Boulder asserts that even the weight of a single dime can shut down up to 60% of the “power” getting to the organs, muscles, and proprioceptive nerve communications from the brain to the body and back again. Imagine what it’s like when there is an individual vertebra resting on that nerve irritating it continuously.
Many people come into a chiropractor’s office because of pain. Ironically, because of the evolutionary survival wisdom of the body, our bodies have multiple ways to dull our awareness of pain, so that more often than not, by the time you are aware of pain in your body, subluxation and nervous system interference has been in your body for a long time, sometimes up to 50 years. The body will snuff out the brain’s awareness of pain receptors firing as long as it can. I imagine that this is because the lives of humans, up until the last 150 years, has mostly been filled with environmental challenges for which we now have solutions, like furnaces and air conditioning. We likely often needed to ignore pain in order to hunt for our food and survive.
In any case, since pain is actually slow to appear on the scene when there is a problem with our spines, I am going to suggest that organ dysfunction and muscle weakness often show up first, as well as proprioceptive dysfunction.
I will be talking more in future issues about how we need to think subluxation in the early stages of any health and wellness challenge from head aches to acid reflux, before we think about drugs as the answer to organ dysfunction. For now, a good self-screen for subluxation is to stand in front of a full-length mirror or have a spouse or friend observe you. If you already have balance issues sit down in a chair.
Close your eyes and nod your head back and forth, as far as you can go to your chest and as far back as you can go. For some, this alone will provoke pain. Bingo – this is a sure sign of individual vertebral subluxation.
To check for global subluxation, do this three times with your eyes closed. Come to a resting posture and see how you measure up to the following. Is the middle of your ear exactly over the middle of your shoulder? Is the space between your eyebrows lined up exactly over the space between your collarbones? Is the middle of your shoulders lined up over the middle of your hips? While there is much more to posture evaluation than this, if your answer was not yes to any of these, then you have postural distortion and every inch away from that ideal position is putting 25 pounds of stretch on your spinal cord and spinal vertebrae. The master computer and your health and wellness are being challenged. You should think seriously about getting checked by a corrective chiropractor.