Friday, May 4, 2012

Chiropractic Care-Why Your Health Will Thank You


Good day all.

Can't believe I have never taken the time to write specifically about Chiropractic Care.  It's made it's way into several of my blogs, but today I am going to give it it's own blog.

I've chatted with many people about chiropractic care, everyone falls into one of these categories

a) totally believe in chiropractic
b) chiropractic is only for when my back hurts
c) have seen a chiropractor and it was not a good experience, will never go back
c) I will NEVER let a chiropractor touch me.

Which one are you?

I can say I have always been an a)  but had thought b for a good part of my life as well as having experience one c moment.  In total I have been adjusted by 6 different chiropractors since I was 1.   Each had a different technique-3 were traditionalists, 1 used the activator method, 1 used not even sure what it was...but he put me into category c for several years, and finally my favorite and by far the most effective (for me personally) the Gonstead method.

My first chiropractor was Hartley Tuck-if you've lived in Barrie you know the name.  He began his practice I believe if memory serves me correctly around 1965 and was one of the most popular chiropractors in Barrie for several years.  Hartley adjusted me for the first 25 years of my life.  After that I went through several chiropractors that just didn't cut it until I met my current chiro Dr. John Rae of Bayside Family Chiropractic.

Over the course of finding the right chiro as I said, I used several techniques.  Traditionalists-manually manipulate several vertebrae at one time, activator specialists use a special tool "activator" that looks similar to a syringe and uses mild pressure to adjust a subluxation, Gonstead practitioners only adjust vertebrae that are causing issues.  This is a very basic level description but you can see the major differences.

For me personally were the traditional method was good a relieving the in the moment issue, activator not at all, but the Gonstead method is the one that has had the most profound effect on my daily symptoms-allergies, digestion, inflammation, headache relief, ear drainage issues, skin condition (mild eczema)...the list can continue.

So....why do you need chiropractic care....well you walk, you sit down, you work out (I hope) or in the reverse are totally sedentary, you work in a stressful environment....basically if you are alive you need chiropractic care for your entire health system.

Your Spine and Your Health

I want you to take a few minutes and really take a look at this chart.  Each vertebrae in our body is connected to a series of nerves, each of these nerves is responsible for an area of our body.  If there is a subluxation in a vertebrae you will may experience symptoms.

Our spine is made up of 4 (the sacrum and coccyx are generally combined) distinct areas.

Cervical Spine

The following chart shows which vertebrae is responsible for which organs/body parts.

What is a Vertebral Subluxation?


You can see a dramatic difference in the two spines in the above image. The image on the right is a great way to see how the energy flows through the nerves.  You can see in the circle how the subluxation is effecting the flow of that energy. 

Most times people don't realize that they have a subluxation.  It can take years for the subluxation to cause issues.  

What Happens when there is a Subluxation

First off the simple answer:

In the simplest lay mans terms a subluxation occurs when one or more of the bones of your spine (vertebrae) move out of position and create pressure on or irritate spinal nerves.  As you can see from above spinal nerves come out from between each of the bones of your spine.  Pressure or irritation  on these nerves then causes malfunction and interfere with the signals travelling and and from these nerves.   This directly affects your nervous system and the part of the body that these nerves control (you can see those areas in the first chart) causing this part of your body to be unable to function at 100%.  

Once a subluxation occurs, it begins a process of decay in the disc and surrounding joints, all while directly impacting the ability of the nervous system to communicate with the effected nerves efficiently and accurately.  This process WILL continue until the subluxation is corrected.  

Subluxations begin by effecting the way the muscles work and the spine moves.  When the spine can not move properly the discs are deprived of nutrients and begin to degenerate.  This happens as a result of the inability of the fluids and nutrients being able to flow correctly to and from the disc.  After time there may be a build up of inflammation, formation of scar tissue and even the development of bone spurs and arthritis. 

A subluxation involves 5 different components :

The Bone Component (Kinesiopathology) where the vertebrae are either out of position, not moving properly or are undergoing degeneration.

The Nerve Component (Neuropathology) , this is the malfunctioning of the nerve.  Research has shown that it only takes a very small amount of pressure on spinal nerves to have a profound effect on the function of the nerves.

The Muscle Component. (Myopathology)   The muscles of our body all help to hold the vertebrae in place and since the nerves....and nerves control the muscles, muscles are an integral part of our spine health.  

The Soft Tissue Component (Histopathology) When you have misaligned vertebrae and pressure on nerves resulting in changes to  the surrounding soft tissue, this results in the tendons, ligament, blood supply and other tissues undergoing significant changes.  These changes can occur directly at the site of the subluxation or at any point in the travelling of the affected nerves. 

The Chemical Component. (Biochemical Abnormalities)  With all of the above changes acting on your body, the end result is chemical changes.  Even minute chemical changes can have slight or massive effects on your body.

The issue is that you may not feel this until there is enough inflammation, muscle spasms, restriction and degeneration of the disc to trigger symptoms.  This is when most people chose to see a chiropractor.

Depending on how long these subluxations have been occurring in the spine, will depend on the amount of damage done.  

The Phases of Subluxation Degeneration

Subluxation Degeneration occurs over time.  There are 4 stages (or phases) of degeneration:

Near Normal:

This is the neck of a person who has "near" normal spinal alignment.  You can see that the curve is a gentle curve. With this curve the spine is able to act as the shock absorber that it is.  You can also notice that the shape of the vertebrae is a nicely squared off, and the spacing between the vertebrae is also even. 

Stage/Phase 1

The next phase shows a very straight spine, this type of degeneration has been present for 5-20 years depending on the age of the patient.  The spine can also begin to develop a reverse curve in the neck.  Overall motion is probably not affected, there are still issues going on with nerves and muscles.  Because phase 1 generally has no pain associated with it, it's not uncommon for people to think they are just fine and not seek out chiropractic care.  Under the care of a chiropractor this phase can be reversed and a proper spinal curve achieved in 6-18 months. Left uncared for, it will continue to phase 2.  

(On a personal note-all of my kids aged 10-18 when started into regular care were a phase 1-leading into phase 2, after about a year, their spines have returned to near normal)

Stage/Phase 2

The subluxations found in phase 2 have generally been present and uncared for from between 20-40 years.  This phase has some of the same characteristics of phase 1-including loss of the normal curve and position.  Phase 2 spines usually have a loss of the range of normal motion in the subluxated area.  On xray phase 2 spines also show calcium changes or calcium build up in areas of subluxation.  These changes can be referred to as spurs or arthritis.  Disc spaces between affected vertebrae are noticeably narrower and may appear to be flattening out.  Most patients state that they are regularly stiff and achy.  Reconstruction can take between 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 years to return to near normal.

Stage/Phase 3

The subluxations have been present for 40-65 years.  This phase has extreme curvatures, disc spaces are vastly decreased and changing.  Calcium changes on the spine are abundant in this phase.  Patients in phase 3 have restricted range of motion and exhibit other symptoms depending on the placement of the subluxation.  In phase 3 you can see that the vertebrae have obvious changes in shape and spaces.  Chiropractic care will help to reverse the degeneration and symptoms in 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 years.  It may not be possible to return to near normal but a significant change can be given to range of motion and other symptoms.

(Personal note again-I was a late stage 2 early stage 3 when I started to see Dr John-Steph was the same)

Stage/Phase 4

This is the final phase-these subluxations have been present for 65 + years.  Phase 4 is a grave condition that greatly effects the quality of life of the patient.  the massive amount of neurological damage has lead to a significant toll on the patients health.  There are obvious severe structural damages done to the spine and surrounding tissues at this stage.  Disc spaces can be non existent and parts of the spine can actually have begun or became fused together.  The phase 4 patient will have a severe if not complete loss of range of motion.  Phase 4 patients report significant improvements in symptoms, conditions, mobility and quality of life within a 2 year care program. Unfortunately it is almost impossible to reverse phase 4, but a relief in symptoms etc is defiantly worth it.

So you can see that early subluxations if left uncorrected lead to significant degeneration over a life time. BUT if we treat our spines as if they are the corner stone of our health (which they are) and start to see a chiropractor at an early age and continue to see one, then it is totally possible to never experience the symptoms of subluxation.  We'll talk more about chiropractic care and children a bit later on....but let's look at what symptoms could be showing up after a life time of not seeing a chiropractor.

Common Symptoms of Subluxation

The following chart has a great checklist of common symptoms, but by far is not a complete listing.  I will go through the areas of the spine and expand on the list of symptoms.


Headaches, migraines, neck and scalp tension, pressure and pain behind eyes, blurring of vision, dizziness, light headedness, fainting, facial pain and numbness, ringing in ears, ear pain, jaw pain, recurring sore throats, nasal congestion sinus issues, loss of co-ordination, disorientation, symptoms of dyslexia, generalized malaise, childhood recurring fevers (with no apparent cause), vertebral artery insufficiency, insomnia, problems with memory, depression, irritability, loss of concentration, inability to focus, symptoms of allergies and or hay fever, croup, cough that "won't go away", epilepsy and seizure conditions, certain cases of blindness, 


Pain and stiffness in the neck, pain in the shoulder, arm and hand, tennis elbow pain, hand and finger swelling, numbness and tingling in the hands and fingers, bursitis type pain in shoulder, wasting of arm and shoulder muscles, reduced neck and shoulder movement, difficulty swallowing, nervousness, neck tension, chest pain, heart conditions, high blood pressure, poor circulation in the arms, frequent chest colds, asthma, thyroid conditions, goiter , hormonal balance issues, speech difficulties, tonsil and adenoids conditions, frequent ear infections, loss of hearing, 


Shortness of breath, chest pain and pressure, difficulty breathing, pain between shoulder blades, rib pains, heart arrhythmia's, frequent bouts of bronchitis and other related chest conditions, respiratory difficulties, recurring upper respiratory tract infections, function heart conditions, angina pain, asthma and related conditions (especially in children), certain arm pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, 


Pain between shoulder blades, chest pain and pain in ribs, liver and gall bladder issues, jaundice in infants, stomach conditions such as indigestion, heartburn, abdominal bloating, pancreatic malfunction, diabetes, hypo/hyperglycemia, ulcers, gastritis, trouble digestion specific foods, food allergies, lowered resistance acne, and other skin conditions, abnormal blood pressure, sweet tooth cravings, kidney disease and malfunctions, acute and chronic infections, 


Urinary tract conditions, kidney issues, constipation, ulcerative intestinal issues (IBS, chrons etc) spastic colon, lazy colon, adronal issues, appendix pain and disorders, abdominal issues, bloating, gas pains, frequent sighing, diarrhea, fluid retention, allergies, fatigue, mild lower back pain, hernias, rheumatism 


Lower back pain, groin pain, weakness in legs, cramping in legs, poor circulation in legs, numbness in legs and feet, childhood "growing pains", leg pain, gas pain, constipation, certain types of impotence, infertility, bed wetting, bladder weakness,  abdominal cramps, fatigue when standing, cold feet, menstrual cramps, menopause symptoms,  bladder and prostate conditions, sciatic pain, leg and ankle swelling, varicose veins, leg and ankle swelling, spinal curvature/scoliosis, hemorrhoid pain, hip pain, ulcerative bowel conditions. 

Causes of Subluxations:

Well to put it!  We put our spine under stress every day simple by being alive.  Walking, sitting, laying down, running, jumping etc.  Bad posture is one of the leading causes especially among the teen population.  There are three areas of cause of subluxation

Physical Causes:  These are the obvious causes, traumatic experiences to our spine. The first one in a persons life is birth.  Infants are born with several subluxations usually in the upper spine and lower spine caused by the flexation of the spine during vaginal birth.  Cesarean birth is also a significant cause of subluxation especially in the upper spine and neck area.

Further trauma to our spine through child hood can cause subluxations, trauma from falls, car accidents etc also cause subluxations.  Repetitive motions that effect the spine, improper lifting, weakness in the spine, weight distribution can all cause subluxations.

Chemical Causes: Included in this are poor dietary and nutritional practices, drug and alcohol use and abuse and the ingestion of toxins from the foods we eat, the air we breath and the water we drink. Chemicals decrease the body's ability to function optimally and reduce the ability to adapt to and withstand external stresses. 

Emotional Causes: Stress can be a leading cause in neck and spinal issues.  Excessive stress and the inability to manage stress can lower the bodies ability to function.  Alot of research has been done the impact of stress on our immune system. 

How are Subluxations Corrected?

A chiropractor will do an assessment on your spine which should include a detailed health questionnaire or verbal questions.  A series of xrays will also be run and then after all of this is done a chiropractor will adjust your spine.  The chiropractor may also use a 

As I stated at the beginning there are several methods for adjusting.  I personally find the Gonstead method to be the best one out there.  On youtube there is a fabulous channel filled with adjustments done by a Gonstead chiropractor, take a peak at the videos and you will see what a Gonstead  adjustment looks like. There are videos on every age group from infant to a fantastic adjustment with a 92 year old woman.  Also included are adjustments during pregnancy-including the follow up adjustment to the newborn baby :o)

The basics of an adjustment include slight pressure being applied to the effected spine in order to move the misaligned vertebrae back into correct alignment.   Other areas of your body can also be adjusted including the joints of your hands, elbow, shoulder, feet, ankle, knees, ribs, jaw and skull.  

When the vertebrae moves there is a slight popping or "cracking" sound.  Many people think that this is the bones of the vertebrae rubbing together, but it is actually the release of carbon dioxide from the spine (just like when you "crack" your knuckles).

Adjustments provide an immediate relief to the pinched nerves and allows for the proper flow of nutrients into the cartilage joint as well as flushing out waste products that have been sitting stagnant during the subluxation.  Many times people feel a "head rush" as the flow of blood and nutrients is given freedom.  

Who Should See a Chiropractor ?

Well ....everyone!

Like I stated above one of the first subluxations a human can suffer from is during birth.  Even before that the way in which a baby's body is curled in the womb can cause stress on the spine.  

Infants and Chiropractic

As you can see if you've read the blog up until now, chiropractic care is about whole health, not just for when your back hurts.  Birth is the first "trauma" that a child suffers.  As a doula I have seen first hand the force that some OB's use to "pull" the baby out.   I truly believe that every infant should have his/her first adjustment within the first week of life.

Traumatic Birth Syndrome is the name given to the birthing process resulting in the creation of subluxations. Numerous articles and experts have warned of the damage that occurs to the nervous system in the neck of newborns during the trauma involved in the common birth process. This damage ranges from mild subluxations in the upper neck to more serious subluxations involving spinal cord damage, neural hemorrhage and central nervous system problems. 

Many authorities suggest that the position of the mother coupled with the pulling from the delivering physician has a lot to do with the creation of these subluxation related problems. When the delivering mother is lying on her back she is not only working partially against gravity but she has reduced the pelvic opening size. These two factors then require the attending physician to pull harder on the head of the child. This increased pulling and twisting during the birth process, coupled with a decrease in the pelvic opening and a non alignment with gravity often set the stage for birth trauma, subluxation and the resulting problems.  

Cesarean birth is also a leading cause of Traumatic Birth Syndrome.  If you watch a c-section birth you will notice that the surgeon quite literally pulls the infant from the uterus by their neck, I have also seen photos of the baby being suspended by their neck.  Imagine someone doing that to you and the amount of strain that puts on your neck!  Other forms of assisted delivery such as vacuum or forceps apply a huge strain on the infants neck. 

Health consequences to the newborn from subluxations caused from birth trauma range from immediate and severe to hidden problems that may take years to surface. Some of the more immediate and tragic results that have been documented are spinal cord and brain stem injuries, brain bleeding and swelling, neurological deficits, breathing problems and even sudden infant death syndrome.  Long term health concerns are as varied as the nervous system, see the symptoms list above, all of those things could have begun from the moment of birth.

For those of you into the scientific research, this is a great article with loads of research references showing how infants and young children suffer from subluxations

Symptoms an infant has spinal subluxations:

It's hard to ask a baby if it hurts-but they are pretty good at telling us something is not right:

  • Colic
  • Poor feeding and or failure to thrive diagnosis
  • Unsettled sleep patterns
  • Crying, restlessness, hard to sooth
  • Unhappy lying in a particular position, especially back
  • Preference of sleeping on one side (when placed on other side will wake and be hard to settle)
  • Prefers to feed on side, when on the other side will be fussy and hard to latch
  • Issues with breastfeeding-hard to latch, hard to open mouth fully
  • Reflux-90% of reflux issues in infants are due to upper cervical subluxations, other 10% are proven cases of esophagus flap failure
  • Tendency to face one side, if you have to "force" baby to look other way this is sign of significant upper cervical subluxation
  • Flat head due to inability to rotate head one direction or the other
  • Ear infections within first year of life
  • Colds/chest infections within first year of life
  • Slow to meet milestones-holding up head, rolling over, crawling etc.
Traumatic birth facts:

  • 50,000 newborn deaths occur each year in the U.S.  Approximately 10,000 of those are listed as "unexplained respiratory failure" as known as SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).  Professor Abraham Towbin of Harvard Medical School states "respiratory depression or failure is a cardinal sign of spinal cord or brainstem injure that occurs during birth, but which frequently goes undiagnosed by medical doctors"
  • Dr. Godrey Gutmann, a german medical researcher discovered that over 80% of the infants he examined after birth were suffering from cervical spine injuries, causing many types of health problems
  • J.M. Duncan, a medical researcher, measured the amount of force required to severely injure a baby's neck during delivery.  He found that the average amount of force used during delivery was between 90-120lbs.  He found that 90 pounds of force could cause stillbirth, and  would definitely cause a subluxation to the upper neck and spine.  Duncan stated "This is NOT what most obstetricians would consider a great force" 
  • A study done by Dr. V Fryman and published in the Journal of American Osteopathic Assoc, showed that out of 1250 infants chosen at random, 211 suffered from unexplained vomiting, muscular abnormalities, tremors and insomnia.  Of those 211-90% (200) had significant upper cervical subluxations and when adjusted their symptoms corrected and became nonexistent.

Children and Chiropractic

If your child was not seen in infancy, then it's time.  Symptoms of subluxations in children can include (but are not limited to by far):
  • recurrent ear infections
  • persistent sore throats and colds
  • infections in tonsils/adenoids
  • recurrent upper respiratory infections (bronchitis, croup etc)
  • fevers
  • colic/reflux
  • asthma
  • headaches
  • eye issues
  • bedwetting 
  • constipation or recurrent diarrhea
  • growing pains
  • behavioural issues
  • poor posture
  • allergies both environmental and food based
  • food intolerance's
  • eczema
  • intestinal parasites

The list really could go one forever.  Children and children, it's in their nature to fall down and do things that can greatly effect the movement of their spine and cause subluxations.  

It is estimated that 3.5 million children a year under the age of 14 receive medical care for sports injuries each year.  Of these injuries chiropractic adjustment following an injury can greatly speed healing (for things like sprains and strains) and can lesson the chance that these injuries can result in spinal subluxations that continue to effect their health for the rest of their life.

Pregnancy and Chiropractic Care

During pregnancy, there are several reasons to see a chiropractor.  The weight of carrying the baby, the postural adaptions, pelvic changes all can lead to subluxations and misalignment's.  

A misaligned pelvis can mean the difference between a successful vaginal delivery.  As well as reduce the amount of space for the baby to grow.  The added strain of a pregnancy can put a mom's nervous system under strain, any subluxations can add to that strain.

Benefits of chiropractic care during pregnancy include:
  • maintaining a healthier pregnancy
  • helping to control symptoms of morning sickness/nausea
  • reducing the time of labour and delivery
  • prevention of cesarean deliveries
  • reverse breech laying babies via the webster technique

Myths and Facts about Chiropractors

Chiropractors are Not Real Doctors

I beg to differ!  As does the statistics of what a chiropractor must study at school.  Note that a chiropractor generally studies for 4 years, where a medical doctor studies for 7.  Looks to me like a chiropractor has alot more knowledge built into that 4 years then a medical doctor. Of special note...chiropractors don't study pharmacology as they believe that if the spine is free of subluxations then the body is able to function properly and therefore prescription medications are unnecessary.

kitchener chiropractor educational hours

Chiropractic Care is Expensive

In comparison to the average cost of a visit to a medical doctor ($200-1000) the average cost of a chiropractic treatment is between $35-65.  Most benefits companies offer plans that include chiropractic care.  As well in both the US and Canada you can claim chiropractic care under the Medical Expenses section of your income tax return. 

Chiropractic is Just for Back Pain

I think if you've read this blog through, you can see that this is definitely a myth!

Most chiropractors work with their patients on nutrition, basic health, exercise etc.

An Adjustment Hurts

Totally a myth 99% of the time.  Depending on the muscles around the area that is subluxated you may feel discomfort.  This discomfort does NOT come from the vertebrae being put back into place but from the muscles being taken out of a place that they have become accustom to.  Adjustments actually create instant relief for the majority of patients (I know they do for me...I cheer when I get mine and ask Dr John to do it again :o)

Chiropractic Care Doesn't Work

Let's let these statistics from a 7 year study speak for themselves and have the final say on why you need to choose a chiropractor as your primary care physician!!

Pinned Image

Concussions and Chiropractors

So after watching my sons rugby game today, and after taking one of his friends to hospital with a pretty significant concussion-wanted to add a blurb about concussions.

A major factor in concussion involves the snap back action of the neck.  The neck is the area of the body that is most vulnerable to injury and can have the most effect on the ability of the brain to receive information.  The top bone of the spine is usually effected the most in an injury leading to a concussion.  This bone when it is subluxated results in the surrounding tissues being stretched or damaged and the weight of the head can then be shifted off centre

Once the position of the head is altered the position of the eyes and ears is also altered.  The brain then initiates the "righting reflex" in order to balance the eyes and ears.  This further exaggerates the misalignment of the spine and can effect every vertebrae in the spine.

The symptoms of a concussion including vertigo, dizziness and loss of coordination are all symptoms of the brain attempting to rebalance it's self.  If the subluxation of the spine goes on uncorrected then the body must continually stay in the righting reflex-which is why post-concussion syndrome symptoms include vertigo etc.

When you suffer a concussion it is a good idea to be seen by a doctor to ensure that no significant brain injury has occurred.  Once that has been cleared a trip to a chiropractor within 24-48 hours after the concussion to have the upper neck examined and any subluxations adjusted has been shown to improve recovery time significantly.  If the subluxation is restricting blood flow to the brain an adjustment is vital to ensure that the blood flow is returned to normal.

Many sports stars are frequently sufferers of concussions.  They are also huge users of if you suffer a sports related concussion do what the pros do...see a chiropractor asap!


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