BY WENDY M. HENRICHS
Chiropractic pediatrician and nutrition couselor
Have you ever wondered if you should see a chiropractor? To me the answer is YES, but not because I am a chiropractor. If you have a spine, then you should include a chiropractor as part of your health team. You have eyes and you see an optometrist or ophthalmologist to monitor the health of your eyes. You have teeth and you see a dentist to check and help maintain the health of your teeth. But who is checking your spine? For a lot of us, no one is checking our spinal health. If a chiropractor is not part of your health care team because you “feel” ok, then you probably don’t fully understand the importance of our spine and nervous system. Health is much more than how you feel, it’s also how you function. Now the tricky thing with function is it that it doesn’t “yell” as loud as pain does, and it can also send confusing messages. So often, it can be overlooked.
Our spines keep us upright, and the vertebrae or spinal column houses and protects our spinal cord which connects to our brains. The brain is our mainframe computer and transmits and receives messages via the spinal cord and nerves to everything in the body. The vertebrae are stacked like blocks with the spinal cord running down the middle, and between the vertebrae nerves extend from the spinal cord to the left and right. The disks are between the vertebrae and form spongy shock absorbers between each bone. Several layers of muscle cover the back, and ligaments and tendons support the vertebrae and posture while giving the body flexibility. The bones in our spine or vertebrae are designed to move so we can do all the things we love to do like walk, garden, ski, bike or play with our kids or grandkids. Life’s activities, falls and accidents can shift the spinal joints which results in loss of normal movement. When this happens inflammation of the surrounding tissues occurs which can affect the adjacent nerves and their function.
“So what?” you might say. The nervous system controls EVERYTHING like breathing, sleeping, taking a drink of water and digesting our food along with all our other involuntary functions, and the movement we do day to day.
If there is pressure on the nerve going to your arm you might have pain and tingling, but often you don’t even notice the change in strength or function until it is “yelling” at you. You might not notice that you’re not breathing as deeply as you could due to your poor posture affecting the function of those nerves. Just try slouching in your chair and taking a deep breath and try it again while sitting upright and you will feel the difference. If you feel pain, then indeed that is a signal that your nerves are being affected. A change in function can be present without pain, but pain cannot be present without dysfunction.
I remember the first time I saw a chiropractor. I had been hit by a car on my bicycle when I was 19. I went to a chiropractor for the neck and shoulder pain I was experiencing. The chiropractic adjustments helped alleviate my neck and shoulder pain. The thing that was even more profound for me was that I felt like the “power” was turned on in my legs. I had no pain there and felt like I was functioning and moving just fine, but after that first adjustment I felt my legs and feet in a way I didn’t recall ever feeling before. Not only that, but I also felt more strength in my legs as well. This was part of the reason I decided to become a chiropractor.
Chiropractic is known for its positive results in treating back pain. In 2007 guidelines, the American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society included spinal manipulation as one of several treatment options for practitioners to consider when low-back pain does not improve with self-care. More recently, a 2010 Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) report noted that complementary health therapies, including spinal manipulation (adjustments), offer additional options to conventional treatments, which often have limited benefit in managing back and neck pain. Chiropractic also has positive results in treating headaches, sciatica, whiplash, scoliosis, fibromyalgia, sports injuries and extremity conditions to name a few. Chiropractic adjustments can help to relieve or reduce pain, and improve how you perform in your day to day activities. A chiropractic adjustment restores normal movement to joints that are fixated or not moving properly thus restoring normal function in that area. If you follow sports and athletics you know that amateur and professional athletes utilize chiropractic as part of their health care and performance regime. Dr Bill Moreau, a chiropractor, heads the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Sports Medicine Division which is comprised of chiropractors, physical therapists and athletic trainers who work together to treat athletes with the underlying goal of achieving competitive excellence.
If you want to perform better in your daily activities or improve your sport and athletic performance then including a Chiropractor as part of your health team is for you.
Chiropractic, along with clean eating, regular exercise and positive thinking is a prescription for living your best life. My advice is if you have a spine, you should see a chiropractor as part of general health maintenance. How do I find a good one? Call a few offices in your area and set up complimentary consultations. Ask a lot of questions and see who “fits” with you.
Dr. Wendy Henrichs is a board certified chiropractor and nutrition counselor at Timber Land Chiropractic in Rhinelander. For a complimentary chiropractic, nutrition or lifestyle counseling consultation, visit TimberlandChiropractic.com, Facebook, or call 715-362-4852 or visit www.timberlandchiropractic.com and Facebook.