Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Benefits of Chiropractic Care

"Her spine is curved."

It was the first time I'd ever taken my daughter to the chiropractor.  After about a year of going myself, I now felt comfortable enough believing that the treatment could help my kids as well.

She was 5 or 6 years old at the time and I had thought she was just fine.  Sure she had been the challenging child, and a very grumpy baby, but I just assumed that was normal.

The chiropractor looked over her back and did several checks on her.  He then had her lay on the adjustment table and took me aside a bit.  What he said next came as a complete shock.  "Her spine is curved", he said as he showed me how her spine was curving a bit at the bottom.  

He proceeded to explain that she was showing signs of scoliosis.  His concern was strong enough that he started discussing with me treatments that other doctors could do to help her spine.  

After that he went over to the table and gave her a common adjustment with an activator.  (It's like a spring loaded rubber mallet that bumps the bones into place.  It's much less scary to kids than getting twisted.)

Then a miracle happened.  Whether an act of God or just a blessing, he was able to straighten her spine!!!  Even he was amazed at the results.

After that I took her for a few follow up treatments, and now take all of my kids every 1-3 months for corrective adjustments.  The relief on their faces after most of the visits is still a bit amazing to me.  There's relief that comes to them from getting their spines properly aligned again.

Backing up about 7 years in time here... I used to be terrified that if I went to a chiropractor they would surely mess up my neck... and leave me paralyzed.

In hind site that was very irrational.  If chiropractors paralyzed people they'd obviously be put out of business, and then no one would go to any of them.

The complete opposite has taken place over the last decade or so.  Chiropractic care has become so common place that there are offices blanketing each city, and clinics are even taking on full time chiropractors.

Why are so many people now going to chiropractors?

For one they are amazing!  They can take care of a wide range of ailments, but more importantly can keep you from ever developing many common physical problems.  Secondly, many insurance companies are now catching on to their preventative benefits and are providing coverage.

Just within our family our chiropractor has: corrected my legs where one was longer than the other (my pelvis had gotten tilted, probably from always carrying a baby on the same side), my 6 week old was super spewing and adjusting a spot on her spine that connected to her stomach took care of that immediately and almost completely (eliminating cows milk from my diet while breast feeding took care of the rest), giving instant relief to my back that I'd thrown out, relieving a pinching nerve pain in my shoulder instantly, correcting my neck, my babies neck, all of our backs, and I'm sure even more that I can't think of right now.  Oh yes, realigning my husbands floating rib (he thought he'd broken it).

I originally started going to a chiropractor to get rid of headaches, and sure enough I've rarely had one since I started seeing chiropractors about 7 years ago.

What is a chiropractor, and why should we trust them? 

To become a chiropractic doctor a person must have completed 2-4 years of undergraduate study, and an additional 4 years of chiropractic school.  Then they must pass state and national board exams to be licensed as a Doctor of Chiropractic.

"A chiropractor is a doctor who's expertise is in finding and correcting the cause of disease.  Doctors of specialize in the care of the spine and other joints of the body.  We really work with the nervous system.  A chiropractor uses a treatment called an adjustment to relieve stress from the nervous system."- Dr. Mark Gustafson

Chest Radiograph Of A Cat

Each chiropractor does things a little bit differently, and depending on your needs that is a good thing because you can find one that provides just what you need.

I've been to 4 different chiropractors.  The first gave what's called a manual adjustment, where the body is pushed on and twisted in specific ways to realign the spine.  I found his adjustments to be a bit too rough, but could see some benefit.

The second chiropractor I visited specialized more in sports injuries and therapy.  I like him, but he mostly focused on using these pads that stimulate the muscles as well as using an activator (a spring like tool that has a rubber end- it is used to gently align the spine).  I liked the activator but missed the deeper benefits of having a manual adjustment.  My husband found great benefits in the muscle stimulating pads, but they didn't do too much for me.

The third chiropractor I've visited mostly does only manual adjustments.  He seems to have a natural knack for it though, and so he is the chiropractor I've stuck with.  I also appreciate that he adjusts me, and then I'm on my way in only a few minutes.

The forth chiropractor I visited because I received a free coupon from a friend for a massage there.  I greatly appreciate the idea of merging massage with chiropractic care, as having the muscles more relaxed allows for easier alignment and for the spine to stay in alignment.  I prefer not to spend a lot of time getting stuff done, so I went back to my regular chiropractor and have remained with him for over 4 years now.

The benefits that our family has received from chiropractic care may be too many to even recall.  The instant relief that each and every member of our family has received is priceless.  

I don't know what kind of shape we'd be in without having received some very critical adjustments when they were most needed.  

My only regret is not having started going to one when my oldest daughter was a baby.  I really believe that she would have greatly benefited from getting that type of care, and that she would've had a happier disposition.  Looking back she was likely in a bit of pain that I was unaware of.

I value this type of care for my family and only want to spend our resources where we get the most benefit from them.  When times were especially tough over the last year I made two things a standing priority of health for us.  The quality of food we ate (there were more meals of beans to help balance that), and trips to the chiropractor.

Photo by Alex Bramwell

Many insurance companies now cover chiropractic adjustments, and if your's doesn't call around till you find a doctor with a cash fee you can afford.  I've done that, and it took a few phone calls but was well worth it!

To find a good chiropractor ask around.  Many of your friends and family members have likely gone to one before and can tell you what they thought of different doctors.  If one doesn't seem to meet your needs then try another one until you are comfortable that you're getting the care you require.

There are so many benefits that we receive from having our spine and nervous system correctly working, and so many problems that never happen because they are.

I'll leave you with a final quote from Dr. Mark Gustafson.  I asked him what one of his most successful treatments was...

"My favorite case involved a woman in her 30's who had been unsuccessfully trying to get pregnant for 5 years.  After one treatment she was able to successfully conceive.  5 years later same problem, same solution."

*Disclaimer-  This information is shared for discussion purposes only, and therefore no part of this article should be taken as medical advice.  If you need to be diagnosed or treated see a doctor.  

Special thanks to Dr. Mark Gustafson of Allied Chiropractic in Eagan for his help in writing this article.  No compensations were provided by either party.

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