Chiropractic, although many times misunderstood, is about helping people live healthier, fuller lives. While typically thought of as “bone doctors”, chiropractic actually focuses on the nervous system by adjusting and rehabilitating the spinal column in order to affect and improve the nervous system.
According to Gray’s Anatomy, the nervous system is the master system in the body and controls and coordinates all other system such as respiratory, digestive, muscular, and immune. The nervous system includes the brain, spinal cord, the spinal nerves that exit the vertebral column through the openings on the sides of each vertebra and all the peripheral nerves that branch off to serve organs, tissues, blood vessels, muscles etc.
Information from the environment, both external and the internal goes through the spine to get to the brain. In the same manner, information and decisions made in the brain go through the spine to affect certain outcomes. It is a two-way flow of information.
The intention of the chiropractic adjustment is to remove any disruptions or distortions of this information flow that may be caused by malfunctioning parts of the spine that we call subluxations. Chiropractors are trained to locate the subluxations and remove them, thereby restoring the normal flow of information in terms of both quantity and quality. The idea is that if the master system, which is the nervous system, is healthy and functioning well, then the other systems under its control will also function in a more optimal fashion.
Chiropractic is based on the belief that the same innate intelligence that can grow a single cell into a complex human being, made of billions of cells, can also heal the body if it is free of disturbance to the nervous system. For example, if the area of spine that supplies nerve flow to the stomach is subluxated then information going to the brain regarding that organ and its function, digestion, will be distorted and the brain will not be receiving accurate data on its condition. Likewise, decisions made in the brain and conveyed along the nervous pathways will be disrupted and the correct response will be unable to be made. It is essentially the same scenario for all the organs, muscles, blood vessels and so forth. When a chiropractor removes this interference, the nervous system functions more optimally and the body is able to heal itself via the two-way communication system.
How do you define health? Is health to you not having a cold? Is it feeling good? Or maybe health is something more.
We consider health to be something much more than not being sick, something more than just pain free, something that speaks to higher quality of life itself. The World Health Organization defines health as follows: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”, and can move along a continuum where ‘death’ and ‘optimal health’ are the polar opposites.1
- Caltabiano, M. L., Sarafino, E. P. & Bryne, D. (2008). Health psychology: biopsychosocial interactions (2nd Australasian ed.). Wiley: Milton, Australia.