Chiropractic care has come a long way since its foundation in the late 1800s. The days of the “bone out of place” way of describing what is going on under the surface are long gone. Research in the field of neuroscience is increasing and evidence is coming out on a daily basis describing how joint injury, especially spinal joint injury affect the nervous system and the brain. This has major applications when it comes to the treatment of functional conditions of the spine and musculoskeletal injury in general. We now know much more about what actually happens when a chiropractor “adjusts” the spine, and why the benefits of chiropractic care are so profound.
So often we hear stories about someone injuring their back carrying out a simple task that has been done 1000 times before. Most commonly people blame this on poor “core”, however it’s far more likely to be a control issue than any loss of strength. What this means is the brain is not accurately receiving information about where the body is in space and therefore unable to generate the correct muscle activity required to correctly stabilise an area to prevent injury. Over time this can accumulate to a point where the area becomes strained or damaged leading to problems like (but not limited to) disc bulges, joint and ligament sprains, osteoarthritis and sciatica.
Modern chiropractic is a neurologically based intervention designed to provide the brain with better sensory information so it can activate more efficient movement patterns. Joint manipulation or “adjustment” works by activating the movement and stretch receptors in the surrounding tissue sending a barrage of information via a specific bundle of very fast nerves, which re-represents the previously forgotten area in the brain so it can now “see” what’s going on. The result is that the brain immediately alters muscle tone and responsiveness to a more correct level allowing proper movement and better control. Adjusting is just one tool from a large toolbox of techniques used to help restore health and function of the spine; muscle energy techniques, dry needling, rehabilitative and brain based exercises to name a few.
The exciting thing is that there are some simple tests we can do that give us an insight as to how your spinal control systems are doing. These can be applied in context of explaining why a particular injury has occurred, or how to improve spinal stability in order to reduce the potential of injury down the track. By understanding what the injury is and what systems have failed leading to the injury in the first place we can look at prescribing effective treatment options that are specific to your condition, often without the use of expensive tests and risky procedures.