General Health

Beyond The Neck And Back - Chiropractic For The Entire Body

When you're struggling with neck or back pain, your first thought may be to schedule an appointment with your chiropractor. But did you know that chiropractic treats the body for a range of problems and symptoms beyond the neck and back?

To understand chiropractic, it's important to recognize that the musculoskeletal system is integral to your entire body and overall health. The musculoskeletal system is comprised of your bones, cartilage, ligaments and other connective tissue that stabilizes or connects the bones.

"In addition to supporting the weight of the body, bones work together with the muscles to maintain body position and to produce controlled, precise movements. Without the skeleton to pull against, contracting muscle fibers could not make us sit, stand, walk or run," stated an article from the Cleveland Clinic.

While chiropractors are known for their expertise in helping patients with back and neck pain, they can also help people experiencing muscle and joint problems, issues with their extremities, and other injuries and disorders related to the musculoskeletal system.

“...the average American spending roughly 10 hours sitting each day, it's no wonder that people experience joint irritation and muscle tension that can lead to back pain, headaches and more.”

Stomach issues, for example, can stem from problems with nerves in the thoracic (chest and abdominal) region of the spine that are linked to digestion. It's not uncommon for a patient with a herniated disc to be diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, for instance. Because your musculoskeletal system connects all the other systems of your body, your posture is inherently linked to your health.

Dr. Phil Arnone, a chiropractor at the Balanced Body Center in Matthews, N.C., said there are increasing amounts of literature that point out the direct relationship between posture and health.

"Sitting is the new smoking. As more attention is drawn to posture and health, some of the things that chiropractors have been saying for years are really coming into the spotlight," he said.

Arnone has treated patients with headaches, breathing issues and gastrointestinal disorders. After undergoing chiropractic manipulations and adjustments, many patients experience relief.

Arnone explained chiropractic does not claim to "cure everything," but instead takes a homeopathic approach to treating the musculoskeletal system, which can affect several areas of the body.

"When the spine comes out of balance, it can pinch a nerve and impair function. When people have biomechanical misalignments in their spine, that misalignment creates immobility in the way that the joints move. And that immobility creates inflammatory chemicals at the joint levels, and those inflammatory chemicals can create degenerative arthritis for example," Arnone explained. "Insult to the nervous system can affect every system."

Even though chiropractic focuses on manipulation of the spine and musculoskeletal system, there is a direct correlation with the nervous system. The nervous system's network of nerve cells and fibers transmit nerve impulses throughout the body.

Chiropractor Dr. Kevin Sharp of Sharp Chiropractic in Winston-Salem lent more insight.

"In chiropractic care, we're focused on restoring structure and the integrity of the nervous system so that the body begins to heal itself. You could almost say we don't even treat pain; we treat structural problems that cause pain," he explained. "We restore normal function and normal alignment. The pain is just a symptom that goes away as a result of restoring the body's ability to take care of itself."

Sharp sees a steady stream of pediatric patients who suffer from things like colic and recurrent ear infections. It may surprise people that chiropractic can help alleviate pain from these issues, but Arnone said restoring body alignment aids the body's ability to heal.

For example, a common malady many people routinely struggle with are headaches, but oftentimes your head isn't really the problem.

"If people have a headache, what do they usually do? They immediately go and grab an ibuprofen," said Sharp, who advised people to think about why they have a headache in the first place.

According to the American Chiropractic Association, the majority of headaches are associated with muscle tension in the neck. With the average American spending roughly 10 hours sitting each day, it's no wonder that people experience joint irritation and muscle tension that can lead to back pain, headaches and more.

"Doctors of chiropractic undergo extensive training to help their patients in many ways beyond just treatment for low-back pain. They know how tension in the spine relates to problems in other parts of the body, and they can take steps to relieve those problems," the ACA stated.

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