Chiropractic is commonly thought to be useful merely for treatment of neck and back pain. And it is true that chiropractic provides amazing relief to patients who suffer from these problems! But the beneficial effects of chiropractic care are far more extensive than that.
Chiropractic is a branch of healthcare that looks at the health of the nervous system, and chiropractors are doctors who specialize in treating it. The nervous system is composed of billions of interconnected neurons. In order for the nervous system to be functioning at an optimal level it is important that each neuron be kept healthy.
What keeps neurons healthy? A neuron requires three things in order to survive:
- fuel (glucose)
- & stimulus
Of these three needs, the most important to a neuron is stimulus. When a neuron receives stimulus it begins to produce proteins, which in turn rebuild and maintain that neuron to keep it healthy and strong. Without enough stimulus, the neuron will not even be able to use the fuel and oxygen, it will feel neglected, and it will soon deteriorate and die. Without proper stimulus a neuron will last only a short period of time. It is important, then, to keep providing appropriate stimulus to the nervous system and brain.
So, how do we provide enough stimulus to the brain to keep the neurons healthy? Many may guess that mental exercises, puzzles, mathematical drills, and the like, would be ideal for keeping brain function at an optimum. These activities are indeed beneficial, but the majority of brain stimuli does not actually come from activities of this nature. In fact, 90% of the stimulus received by the brain comes from the movement of the spine! The spine is covered by a multitude of small postural muscles, which constantly inform the brain regarding the position and movement of the spine. It is this constant flow of information that provides for 90% of the stimulation the brain receives. If this stimulus is removed, neurons begin to die. For example, astronauts who have returned from time in space where gravity is negligible are known to have up to 10% decrease in IQ. Thus, postural stimulus is critical to the brain!
While gravity on earth is a constant, the alignment of our spine is not. If one of our vertebrae (spinal bones) moves out of alignment, the small postural muscles that surround the bone will be unable to send the same amount of stimulus to the brain. But the neurons in the brain need this stimulus to survive and stay healthy! Because the neurons in the brain are not receiving enough stimulus, they will produce fewer proteins and begin to deteriorate. They will be unable to perform their job adequately. This is a real problem because your brain is the integrating center for all your other body systems. If a message arrives to the brain from another part of your body (let’s use the ear as an example) the neurons in the brain are supposed to examine the message and then forward it to the correct part of the brain. However, if the neurons in the brain are sick, they will be too weak to fire, and the message will not be forwarded to the right place in the brain.
A bit of history: the first chiropractic patient was actually not adjusted to help his back or neck pain. Rather he was adjusted in order to treat his loss of hearing! His hearing came back after the adjustment!!
Chiropractic treatment can increase the health and function of all body systems. Why? Because chiropractic takes care of the health of the nervous system and the nervous system is in charge of the entire body.
A healthy nervous system means a healthier you!
While the description here of the incredible human body and brain is rather simplistic, the realities that we see and experience in this office are profound. If you have any further questions about the role of chiropractic in your life, please call for a free consultation with Dr. Shapiro! We wish you the best!