COLUMN: Thoughts on chiropractic

I am a chiropractor. I have been for 27 years. Yet, during the 10 or so years that I have been writing the occasional wellness article for the Skaneateles Press, I have never devoted one to the profession of chiropractic. Sure, one could argue that all 23 essays that have appeared in these pages were in a sense about chiropractic, since the profession embodies a holistic approach to total body/mind wellness. But what about the day-to-day work of the Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.)? What does he or she do and why?

As you might expect, even just through cultural osmosis, the majority of folks who visit a chiropractor are seeking help for a pain problem. Profession wide, the most common is lower back pain, followed in frequency by neck pain, then shoulder pain, headaches, and so on. In fact, name the pain (or stiffness or tingling) location and I have probably seen it in my office. But as mentioned above, chiropractors take a patient-centered holistic approach, treating the person with the pain, focusing on the structure and function of the entire body. After using comprehensive consultation and examination procedures to determine the cause of the symptoms (which might not be obvious—a tilted pelvis might be a cause of headaches!), we use a variety of techniques, mostly hands-on and sometimes very lightly, to eliminate pain and restore good function in the problem area or wherever we find it.

What we encounter, though, is that on the way to resolving the cause of pain, some interesting side benefits often occur. While targeting the symptom generator with hands-on work, exercise prescription, posture correction and other lifestyle recommendations (such as dietary changes to reduce inflammation), the entire body is permitted to function better. All our body systems are interdependent, with the nervous system being the conductor of the whole symphony. It’s the nerves, along with the joints and muscles that are most affected by chiropractic care. So, patients find that along with the resolution of their, say, back or neck pain, they have better balance, energy, digestion, breathing or many other benefits. One of the most entertaining outcomes I recall was when a middle-aged woman said, “I can beat my husband at golf now. He wants me to stop coming.”

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