Two types of people walk into a chiropractic office: somebody who wants to get out of pain as quickly as possible and somebody who wants to improve their health and quality of life. One is not better than the other. They just have different goals. Luckily, they have both stumbled into the right place.
A shocking fact that not many people know is that only about 10% of your nervous system perceives pain. The other 90% is dedicated to function and healing. This means that if you are in pain, then most likely, the surrounding nerves are also creating dysfunctions within the body. On the other hand, this also means that it’s possible to have dysfunctions within your body WITHOUT experiencing pain! Crazy right!? But what does the nervous system have anything to do with chiropractic? Well, let’s take a step back and briefly discuss what the nervous system is.
The nervous system comprises the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. Its main job is maintaining constant communication between the brain and every single gland, tissue, and organ throughout the body. Basically, your body constantly sends messages through the nerves, up the spinal cord, and into the brain about how that part of your body is functioning. Then your brain sends a message back down the spinal cord, through the nerves, and into that part of the body with any adaptations or changes that need to be performed in order to maintain proper function and healing. Dysfunctions begin to occur when this communication is inhibited or disrupted.
The function of our nerves and spinal cord can become inhibited or disrupted when your spinal bones (vertebrae) become misaligned or compressed. In chiropractic, we call these vertebral misalignments “subluxations.” Subluxations can occur from a variety of different things, including injuries that healed incorrectly, poor posture over time, and even improper movements. Subluxations cause miscommunication between the brain and body because tension is being placed on thin fibrous tissue surrounding our nerves and spinal cord. One of the most important of these thin fibrous tissues is called the Dentate ligaments. The dentate ligaments surround and anchor your spinal cord inside your spinal column. Tension on the dentate ligaments is the equivalent of a 5-lane highway being reduced to a 4-lane highway or the signal on your cell phone going from 5 bars to 4 bars. Making the subluxation worse creates more tension and reduces that highway down to 3 lanes or the bars on your cell phone down to 3 bars, and so on. Dysfunctions arise within your body as this communication continues to worsen. As we’ve learned above, you might not even feel these dysfunctions happening if the nerves that perceive pain are not involved!
This is why proper alignment and integrity of your spine is so important! Your nervous system will not be able to function optimally without a properly aligned spine. In chiropractic, we refer to this phenomenon as “proper structure is necessary for proper function.” We see this concept in every aspect of our lives. If a building doesn’t follow the blueprint, it will likely deteriorate or crumble. If the components of a car are not put in the correct spots, then you will not be able to travel very far. If you use the wrong pieces to build a computer, it will not work correctly. And so on and so on. So, if spinal alignment helps your overall ability to function correctly, then why do most of us only associate chiropractic with getting out of pain?
Certain laws and regulations within the medical field force chiropractors to only promote chiropractic as a profession that treats musculoskeletal conditions. Saying that we treat anything other than musculoskeletal conditions would be deemed as treating outside our scope of practice. This is why the public mostly knows chiropractic for only treating pain. However, most chiropractors have stories upon stories of patients claiming that chiropractic has relieved them of all sorts of symptoms. We’ve heard stories of patients experiencing less brain fog, less anxiety, better breathing, better sleeping, and so much more. Since chiropractors cannot make these claims for themselves, we often use patient testimonials as a way to help get these messages across to the public. These claims are difficult for chiropractors to ignore since they are so common.
So the next time you are experiencing neck or back pain, be sure to ask yourself, “I wonder what other dysfunctions could be happening within my body that I am not even aware of.” Or you can take the proactive approach (like so many healthy people within the Austin community) and start working on your spinal alignment before symptoms start to occur. Regardless, know that the integrity and alignment of your spine is essential for optimal health and the best way to add years to your life and life to your years.