Chiropractors are trained in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions which are due to mechanical dysfunction of the joints and their effects on the nervous system.
Chiropractors use their hands to adjust the joints of the spine and extremities where signs of restriction in movement are found; this improves mobility and relieves pain. The body’s own healing processes (which we normally recognise in its ability to heal bruises, cuts and broken bones) will then be able to get on with the task of improving health. This treatment is known as ‘adjustment’ or ‘manipulation’.
Poor, inadequate or incorrect function in the spine can cause irritation of the nerves that control posture and movement. This spinal nerve stress (which may be caused by factors such as accident, poor diet, lack of exercise, poor posture and anxiety) can lead to the symptoms of discomfort and pain.
By manipulating joints, chiropractors stimulate the joint movement receptors – the body’s position sensors which provide feedback to the brain on where the joint is in space. This stimulation can affect the way the nervous system works. Depending on where the nerve irritation has occurred in the spine, symptoms may include the following:
- headache or migraine
- neck pain
- back pain
- shoulder, arm, wrist and hand problems
- leg, knee, ankle and foot problems
This is because the irritation of the nerve in one area can sometimes lead to pain (known as ‘referred’ pain) in other parts of the body. Painful symptoms are a warning sign which should not be ignored; a chiropractor is trained to diagnose the cause, and if indicated treat using manipulation. Chiropractors do not prescribe drugs or use surgical procedures.