A Different Approach

By Jaime G. Sanchez, DC, FICPA

Not all doctors of chiropractic (DCs) practice in the same way. That chiropractic is only a treatment for neck and back pain requiring spinal manipulation, which involves some twisting and joint cavitations (popping), seems to be a common misconception held by many in our society. There are chiropractors who choose to limit their practice to the treatment of musculoskeletal conditions like neck and back pain, or injuries sustained in auto accidents or at work. In addition to manipulation or adjustments, treatment often includes the use of modalities similar to those used by physical therapists, such as cold and/or hot therapies, ultrasound, electrical muscle stimulation, and other equipment focused on rehabilitation.

Another class of DCs known as subluxation-centered chiropractors who acknowledge the devastating effects vertebral (spinal) subluxations have on one’s overall health and vitality due to sub-optimal neural function. Simply stated, a vertebral subluxation is a disturbance in communication within the nervous system, which happens to be the body’s master control system. This is so important due to the fact that you live your life through our nervous system. There isn’t a single experience in our human existence that escapes it. As a matter of fact, your perception of reality is dictated by the nervous system’s interpretation of environmental stimuli received by various receptors. Subluxations are associated with decreased neural efficiency and overall body function and are caused by stress (emotional, chemical, and/or physical) that is beyond the body’s ability to adapt to or recover from. It can easily be said that a sub-optimally functioning nervous system equates to a sub-optimal level of human existence, or life. Subluxations may be present without any obvious symptoms, similar to the early stages of cancer, HIV, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, etc.

The more adaptive your nervous system is, the easier it is to deal with life’s obstacles

Your nervous system is an extensive network allowing the innate (inborn) intelligence of your body to coordinate and control all bodily functions, while also adapting your body to its environment, both internal and external. In other words, the main directive of your nervous system is to promote survivability, both of itself, and ultimately you. It is because of this that you are self-developing, self-healing, self-regulating, and self-adapting. The more adaptive your nervous system is, the easier it is to deal with life’s obstacles (emotional, chemical, and/or physical stress).

Stress interferes with proper neural function, which in turn interferes with the body’s ability to adapt and function optimally. It has been shown to suppress the immune system, and cause problems with the body’s major systems: cardiovascular (arrhythmia, hypertension, and coronary heart disease), respiratory (bronchial asthma), and digestive (peptic ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, and Crohn’s Disease), just to name a few. Stress also causes bony misalignments and restrictions to motion along the spine. This is what most chiropractors address when adjusting the spine. This is a second area in which chiropractors may differ from one another.

Please note that the information that follows is not, in any way, intended to imply or be interpreted as one approach being superior to another, but rather to help one gain a better understanding of the basic inherent differences in chiropractic approaches. In general, there are three different approaches to subluxation correction or models that chiropractic techniques can be grouped under:

  1. Segmental – Under this model, misalignments of individual vertebral segments are assessed, either by palpation, X-rays, or a combination of both, and adjusted. The focus in this model is usually to "undo" fixations or restrictions to movement and move the bone into proper position to remove pressure off nerves exiting the spine at those levels. Many times, an adjustment involves joint cavitations, which is often times interpreted as a sign of a successful adjustment. So this approach to subluxation cause and correction can be described as follows:
    [Vertebral Misalignment_Pressure on Nerves_Muscle Tension and other Symptoms]
  2. Postural – Under this model, emphasis is placed on correcting postural alterations and maintaining spinal curves within certain measurement parameters as can be seen on radiographs. Decreased spinal curves have been associated with undue spinal cord tractioning or tension. Adjustments focus on groups of segments, or spinal regions, and may involve "mirror-image" adjusting in which the patient is positioned so their posture is opposite their postural distortions while adjustments are performed. Spinal traction, especially of the cervical spine (neck) is commonly employed to aid in achieving the desired curve measurements. This is to "train" the muscles and ligaments to "hold" these curves, which is similar in application to orthodontic braces. Subluxation cause and correction, then, can be described as follows:
    [Muscle (postural distortions)_Regional Vertebral Misalignments_Nervous System Irritation]
  3. Tonal – The emphasis is placed on acknowledging that stress first causes distortions within the nervous system (controlling system), which, in addition to causing changes in physiology and biochemistry, causes alterations in the tone of the muscles (active system) along the spine. Quite often, the changes in muscle tone occur asymmetrically, one side "pulling" tighter than the other, which in turn is understood to cause the misalignments/fixations of spinal bones (passive system) and postural distortions. Basically, if a bone is "out of place", something had to move it there (muscle). But what "told" the muscle to contract in such a way? (nervous system). Therefore, this model holds that stress causes:
    [Neurological "Distortions"_Asymmetries in Muscle Tone_Vertebral Misalignments/Fixations]

    Hence, the goal under this approach is to address the subluxation from a neurological/functional perspective, rather than a structural and/or symptomatic perspectives, and to emphasize functional outcomes while also acknowledging positive changes in posture, motion, and symptoms that come about as a result of the functional changes. For the most part, postural muscles are involuntary and are under the control of the cerebellum. The cerebellum is also very important in the function and development of the cerebral cortex, in visceral (organ) function, and in emotion. It is linked to human potential. In order for the cerebellum to function optimally, it requires input (afferentation) from various mechanoreceptors (movement receptors) throughout the body’s joints, tendons, and muscles (especially the spine).

Millions of patients, from newborns to the geriatric population, have experienced great results from chiropractic care under the different approaches discussed herein.

Practicing under the tonal model using primarily Torque Release Technique®, the Dr. would use a gentle, non-X-ray dependent, low-force technique which was developed out of a randomized, placebo-controlled trial in cooperation with the University of Miami School of Medicine. It was the first state-of-well-being population research study in chiropractic of its kind, which yielded unprecedented results. It has been published in medical journals and was featured in a documentary on the Discovery Health Channel in 2002-2003. It involves adjusting while the patient lies face down on the adjusting table using the Integrator™, a handheld instrument, to deliver the corrective adjustment without the need for joint popping or twisting. A major part of my initial and progressive examination procedures involves the use of the Insight Millennium™ Subluxation Station™, a non-invasive, state-of-the-art computerized technology available to chiropractors for the analysis of motor and autonomic nervous system function.

Chiropractic care, especially if performed by someone who has successfully completed a post-graduate certification program, like that offered through the International Chiropractic Pediatrics Association, is great for pregnant women, which can help minimize the presence of in-utero constraint and a breech presentation, as well as for children. Chiropractic has proven effective in enhancing immune function and for various conditions, including high blood pressure, otitis media (ear infections) ulcers, asthma, addictions, ADHD, infertility, MS, Parkinson’s and others; however, it must be noted that chiropractic isn’t a treatment for any one condition in particular. These positive results can all be attributed to a more efficiently functioning nervous system as a result of chiropractic adjustments, as has been shown with Functional MRI and other neurological assessments. In fact, people who are otherwise "healthy" have also reaped the rewards that come from having their subluxations adjusted by chiropractors, including athletes.

Athletic Performance

Many of the top athletes get adjusted on a regular basis, not because they have pain or injuries

Many of the top athletes get adjusted on a regular basis, not because they have pain or injuries, but for that competitive edge that comes from having an efficiently working nervous system. It makes perfect sense since neural efficiency is crucial to human performance. Several neurophysiological parameters have been shown in studies to improve through chiropractic care, including pulse rate and capillary counts (microcirculation), muscle strength, visual acuity, and pulmonary function.

Just as one gets medical, dental, and other "check-ups", it is, at the very least, just as important to get a chiropractic "check-up" for the presence of vertebral subluxations, regardless of the presence or absence of symptoms, and regardless of age.

Jaime G. Sanchez, DC, FICPA
Life Energy Wellness Center Family Chiropractic, Inc.

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