For over a century, chiropractic care has led the way in providing a natural, non-invasive approach to treating chronic pain. Every year, chiropractors treat more than 27 million Americans. Americans find relief through chiropractic care for a variety of painful conditions, including neck pain, back pain, headaches, migraines, pain in the extremities, as a means to improve their general health and much more.
The Prevalence of Back Pain in America
According to the American Chiropractic Association, 80 percent of the population will experience a back problem at some point in their lives. The good news is that the majority of these problems are mechanical and can be addressed through chiropractic care.
The Focus of Chiropractic Care
The primary focus of chiropractic treatment is the relationship between the nervous system and the spine. Spinal pain is frequently caused by some kind of irritation (tension and/or inflammation) to the extremely delicate spinal nerves. Chiropractic care reduces an individual’s pain level by relieving the inflammation and/or tension that is aggravating these nerves. Following a spinal adjustment, the pressure that was placed on the nerves is released, providing almost instant pain relief. Furthermore, besides pain relief, chiropractic care can have a profound effect on the body’s overall ability to function.
Subluxations Are Frequently Responsible for Causing Pain
Subluxation is the medical term used to describe a slight dislocation. Slight dislocations throughout the body are responsible for causing the majority of the pain that an individual experiences. One of the most common types of subluxations occurs in the back and/or neck, and is referred to as a vertebral subluxation. A vertebral subluxation occurs when one of the bones in the back and/or neck become dislocated. If this dislocation impinges on the spinal nerves, individuals experience pain in other areas of the body: The areas of the body that directly correlate with the nerves being affected. For example, if the third cervical vertebra (C-3) is slightly dislocated, headaches, dizziness and/or vision problems may result. While ice and/or heat may provide temporary relief, until the vertebral subluxation is addressed by a chiropractor, the symptoms associated with the displacement will continue to arise.
The Art of Manual Spinal Manipulation
During a chiropractic treatment, any misaligned spinal bones are manually maneuvered back into their proper locations. A manual adjustment does require that the chiropractor use a quick, thrust-type motion; however, these adjustments are rarely painful and typically provide instant pain relief. As the vertebrae realign, there is usually an audible release that resembles the sound one hears when cracking his or her knuckles.
The ‘Activator’ Spinal Adjustment Technique
Another technique that may be used to correct spinal subluxation is performed using a tool called the Activator. The Activator is less forceful than a manual adjustment and when the Activator is utilized, an audible response is absent.
What to Expect After a Chiropractic Adjustment
There are occasions when a patient experiences minor discomfort after a spinal adjustment. This discomfort is similar to the feeling one experiences after working out. This discomfort occurs because the body is responding to the muscle tightness and/or realigned spinal segment. Typically, individuals who experience this discomfort have had a misaligned spinal column for quite some time: Therefore, the connective tissues and muscles have retrained themselves to remain in the misaligned position.
Once the vertebrae are properly realigned, these muscles and connective tissue may actually pull the vertebra back out. For this reason, regular visits to the chiropractor are essential. By continually realigning the spinal column, the connective tissue and muscles will eventually be retrained to keep the spinal column in proper alignment.
Addressing Lower Back Pain and Sciatica
Pain in the lower back is a very common complaint among people of all ages. This pain is often triggered by a combination of issues including strain, overuse and/or injury.
There are occasions when a disc (the soft cushion that rests in between the vertebrae that acts as a shock absorber) bulges or ruptures. This bulging or ruptured disc puts pressure on the nerves that are located in the affected area. If this happens in the lower back, a condition called sciatica may result.
Sciatica is caused by pressure being placed on the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back into the buttocks and down the center of each leg. Although sciatica can affect both sides of the body, in general, only one side is affected at a time (the left side or the right side). A spinal adjustment can eliminate the pressure that is being placed on the sciatic nerve, thus, reducing the nerve pain an individual is experiencing.
Custom-Designed Treatment Plans at Icon Medical Centers
At Icon Medical Centers, our physicians, chiropractors, physical therapists and massage therapists work together to provide each of our patients with the high-quality care they deserve. At the initial consultation, the patient is evaluated and a treatment plan that is specifically designed to meet his or her needs is created.
Common Chiropractic Treatments
- Ultrasound Therapy – Ultrasound therapy uses sound waves to generate heat. This heat benefits the soft tissues within the area being treated. This deep heat minimizes muscle pain and reduces the amount of movement dysfunction the individual experiences.
- Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) – Mimics the signal sent to the brain that causes the muscles to contract. By contracting the muscles through EMS, the muscles are less likely to deteriorate following an injury.
- Moist Heat Therapy – Moist heat is used to alleviate symptoms related to numerous conditions, including chronic arthritis (secondary muscle spasms and stiffness); acute temporomandibular joint (TMJ) issues (closed lock condition); various injuries; as well as ankylosing spondylitis (pain and muscle spasms on the posterior neck and back).
- Cryotherapy – Cryotherapy involves using cold temperatures to relieve pain (i.e., ice packs).
- Mechanical Traction – Mechanical traction is designed to separate the vertebrae by gently increasing the space between them. This procedure may cause a bulging disc to retract (return back to its original position between the vertebrae). Thus, relieving the pressure the disc was placing on the surrounding nerves and eliminating the pain this pressure caused.
- Infrared Therapy – Infrared therapy is used to stimulate the healing process by increasing endorphin levels and the bio-activation of neuromodulators.
- Trigger Point Injections – Trigger point pain occurs when the muscle fibers located in a particular area become extremely irritated. This hyper-irritation causes the onset of pain in a very precise location. Trigger point pain can be brought on by an injury or due to a series of small traumas (i.e., repetitive stress injuries). Massage, physical therapy and trigger point injections are the perfect solution to trigger point pain. The relief attained following these injections can last for weeks or even months. However, for optimal, continued pain relief, trigger point injections may need to be repeated periodically.
- Physical Therapy – Physical therapy may involve performing exercises or participating in activities that assist with strengthening targeted areas of the body. Home management training may also be utilized as a part of an individual’s physical therapy.
- Therapeutic Massage and Vibration Massage – Massage techniques vary: Some of the techniques offered at Icon Medical Centers are designed to relax tense muscles and improve blood flow; whereas, deep tissue massage is ideal for breaking down adhesions to improve blood flow and reduce inflammation.