It’s an unfortunate but understandable fact that many people think Chiropractic is just a lot of joint popping.
Well the joint ‘pop’ is definitely associated with improved wellbeing, so understandably, a ‘pop’ or ‘crack’ is what many desire. But what IS actually going on?
Well, the body is extremely complicated and often misunderstood. One thing we know for sure though, is that it does work. Most of the simple explanations are incomplete or just plain wrong.
Recent research points more complex reasons for the therapeutic effects of chiropractic ‘adjustments’. There is definitely a lot going on, and many things are certainly occurring at the same time to provide the many benefits.
Here are some of the things that we do know begin to explain why adjustments work.
1. Adjustments cause the release of endorphins.
Receptors in the joints being adjusted immediately fire energy into the brain causing endorphins to be released. This causes a near instant and temporary relief similar to pain medication making you feel better. This also causes a secondary benefit, that of relaxing local tissues such as trigger points or tight musculature that may be pinching nerves.
2. Manipulation provides improved nutrient supply.
Fact – the cartilage and other structures inside of a joint have no direct blood supply. They get their nutrients and oxygen supplyentirely through the pumping action caused by motion.The blood supply goes to the outside of the joint where the nutrients are passed to the synovial fluid. Joint motion then pumps this fluid about, thus providing fresh nutrients to all parts of the joint, as well as removing waste.
If a joint becomes stiff or locked down by muscle spasm, scaring, a cast, or any other means for extended periods of time, the joint begins to feel stiff. You know that feeling of needing to stretch after sitting in the car for a long time.
The facet joints in your spine are particularly vulnerable to this problem as are the discs between the vertebrae. If the discs don’t keep moving then they compress and lose their fluid content. If this continues for too long they will dry out and eventually fail.
Keep those discs moving – they rely on it. If you start losing your disc health then life isn’t going to be much fun.
As spinal joints become injured they become ‘locked down’ to prevent further injury. The other surrounding joints will often then compensate for the problem joint allowing the bad joint to heal with restricted motion. This can be permanent. Specific chiropractic adjustments restore full range of motion and thus the flow of the life-giving nutrition.
3. Adjustments can reduce pressure on the nerves.
Your nervous system is the master control center for your body. It is incredible but it is delicate. Nerves are soft and don’t function well under physical pressure. In fact it has been shown that inflammation, a bulging disc, or a misaligned vertebracan interfere with proper nerve conduction.
The restricted or misaligned joint can cause pressure or irritation to a nerve, either directly or due to inflammation. The precise chiropractic adjustment can often relieve this pressure by re-establishing normal function to the joint.
4. Better balance, movement and coordination.
When joints move, receptors send information to the brain. If there is poor movement then obviously there is poor information going to the brain. These are proprioceptive signals from the joints motion.
With chronic conditions, the brain has been getting lousy input for some time and like a computer it is a case of ‘rubbish in – rubbish out’. This can affect balance and the actual brain itself can slow down. Think – have you ever seen someone stiff and shuffling with a sharp lively brain?
Adjustments will gradually restore lost motion to the jointsand the jointreceptors will again start to light up the brain. Reflexes will start to recover and balance is restored.
5. Beneficial effects on organ function.
We know that the spine can affect the bodies’ vital organs. Obviously if we remove pressure on a nerve that goes to the heart then it is likely that the heart will have better regulation by the brain.
However it is far more complicated than that and not for this article. We do know that chiropractic often reduces high blood pressure, enhances the immune system and indeed the very profession itself was born after someone regained their hearing following a cervical manipulation.
Many, many other benefits have been recorded over the years and these are witnessed every day in chiropractic offices throughout the world. Decreased colic in babies, cancer sufferers going into remission, the aged seemingly regaining their youthful bounce, we’ve seen it all. At times very difficult to explain but by focusing on re-establishing a clear nerve supply throughout the body, improved movement and great nutrition it would appear that the body has the power to recover from almost anything.
There are millions around the world now who wouldn’t leave it more than a few weeks between visits to their chiropractor. To them spinal maintenance is as natural as servicing their car or visiting a dentist – only way more important!