The Science Behind Chiropractic Care

The Science Behind Chiropractic Care Blog  Chiropractic Care

If you have ever been treated for pain with chiropractic care, you know that it can make an amazing difference in how well you feel and how well are able to function. You may have wondered about the underlying mechanisms of chiropractic manipulation, and why the treatment is so effective. It all boils down to your nervous system, which governs pretty much everything that goes on in your body.

Your Amazing Nervous System

Your nervous system is like a giant computer that processes information at rapid-fire speed and makes constant adjustments to keep every system in your body in an optimal state of balance, called homeostasis. When that balance is disrupted, say for example when you cut your finger, your nervous system sounds the alarm, alerting healing mechanisms throughout your body to rush to the site of injury to begin repairs. If you lose your balance and begin to fall, your nervous system triggers reactions from your muscles to offset the disruption and restore balance. There are three subgroups within your nervous system that each play a special role:

Central Nervous System (CNS): Your CNS is made up of your brain and your spinal cord. You can think of it as Command Central. Your CNS constantly processes incoming information and sends out commands to keep everything humming along.

Peripheral Nervous System (PNS): Your PNS sends messages from your extremities back to the brain. It receives messages from the brain to initiate or cease movement, and sends information back about what is happening in your arms, hands, legs and feet.

Autonomic Nervous System (ANS): Your autonomic nervous system keeps your vital organs running, regulates breathing and digestion, tweaks hormonal levels and much much more. Within your ANS are reflexes that bypass your brain to protect you from harm. The fight or flight response is a good example of a reflexive reaction to danger.

Your ANS, PNS and CNS coordinate together to maintain equilibrium and keep you safe and healthy.

When Things Go Wrong

Sometimes things happen to disrupt the harmony of your nervous system. Illness, injury, and plain old wear and tear can interfere with the smooth transmission and processing of signals throughout your body. In the case of back pain, important nerves are often impinged, or compressed, interfering with signals to the periphery and causing pain and disability.

Chiropractors use spinal manipulation and mobilization therapy to relieve pressure on your nerves and restore healthy communication between your CNS, PNS and ANS. Chiropractic interventions are non-surgical and non-pharmaceutical, and often involve exercises, nutrition intervention and other forms of self-care. Side effects are typically minimal or non-existent, and the benefits are many. Chiropractic treatment can often resolve health care issues for which conventional medicine has no remedy.

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In this instance, an athlete was originally diagnosed with minor quadriceps muscle strain and was treated for four weeks, with unsatisfactory results. When he came to our clinic, the muscle was not healing, and the patients’ muscle tissue had already begun to atrophy.

Upon examination using MSUS, we discovered that he had a full muscle thickness tear that had been overlooked by his previous provider. To mitigate damage and promote healing, surgery should have been performed immediately after the injury occurred. Because of misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment, the patient now has permanent damage that cannot be corrected.

The most important advantage of Ultrasound over MRI imaging is its ability to zero in on the symptomatic region and obtain imaging, with active participation and feedback from the patient. Using dynamic MSUS, we can see what happens when patients contract their muscles, something that cannot be done with MRI. From a diagnostic perspective, this interaction is invaluable.

Dynamic ultrasonography examination demonstrating
the full thickness tear and already occurring muscle atrophy
due to misdiagnosis and not referring the patient
to proper diagnostic workup

Demonstration of how very small muscle defect is made and revealed
to be a complete tear with muscle contraction
under diagnostic sonography (not possible with MRI)

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Complete tear of rectus femoris
with large hematoma (blood)

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Separation of muscle ends due to tear elicited
on dynamic sonography examination

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