Monday, November 8, 2010

A Hitchhiker's Guide to Chiropractic == By Aaron Wiegand, D.C.

Health: 1 a: the condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit; especially: freedom from physical disease or pain b: the general condition of the body. Merriam-Webster
-A History of Health Care
The concept of health and the human experience has taken many forms throughout different periods in time, and within different cultures. Describing how we as Americans have come to view health today can be largely traced back to a scientist by the name of Louis Pastuer. During the late to mid 1800's Pastuer, among many of his accomplishments, was instrumental in developing and proving the "germ theory" of disease. Pastuer was the first to prove that bacteria came from the outside, and proliferated in spoiled beverages rather than developing out of the liquid itself. Pastuer later took the "germ theory" to another level, suggesting that because certain illnesses could be attributed to germs, that their elimination would prevent and treat disease. Another contemporary of Pastuer's, Antoine Bechamp suggested that because not everyone exposed to a germ became ill, something must be said of the state of health of the individual, and perhaps prevention was a more realistic goal than eliminating all germs. Bechamp's ideals were stifled and unpopular however due to the enormous utilization of Pasteurization by the food industry.
Fast forward a little over 100 years, and we now see where this line of logic has left us. Medical procedures and adverse drug effects have become one of the leading causes of death according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. A direct quote from the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) states, "Basically, you die earlier and spend more time disabled if you're an American rather than a member of most other advanced countries." Our infant mortality rate is second to last when compared to other industrialized nations. Our health situation is hardly from a lack of trying. We are #1 in our expenditure on healthcare. We spend close to 16% of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) on health care according to Forbes. We have become a nation that now self diagnoses ourselves with the aid of direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising. The doctor, who used to tell you what drug you needed, now is being told by his/her patients what they would like.
-Chiropractic is Born
A doctor for the Roman gladiators named Galen in 200AD finds that each of the nerves, as it exits the spine, controls different functions of the body as controlled by the brain. Posture was also found to be of importance. Hippocrates associated different postures with declines in an individual's health. From these minds, along with Aristotle, Da Vinci and others, physical medicine was born with an emphasis on the physical state of man and how he moved. It was not until 1895 when a magnetic healer named Daniel David Palmer sees a patient suffering hearing loss. Palmer notices an unusual asymmetry found in his spine. Intuitively, Dr. Palmer put a force into the area with his hands, heard a "popping" noise, the patient's hearing returned, and chiropractic was born. By revisiting much of the work done by previous scientists such as Da Vinci, Palmer determined that the body was of intelligent design and had the capacity to heal itself; that health didn't need outside help, just no interference.
Over time the chiropractic profession grew and changed in the face of adversity from many fronts. Chiropractors were repeatedly jailed in the early 1900's for practicing medicine without a license. Many cases were won on the argument that restoring health to the body, and treating the symptoms of a disease as was medical practice, were two completely different things. In 1976 Chester A. Wilk, a Chicago chiropractor, sued the American Medical Association for antitrust violations. In 1987 the AMA was found guilty, as the presiding judge had this to say at the end of the trial:
""Evidence at the trial showed that the defendants took active steps, often covert, to undermine chiropractic educational institutions, conceal evidence of the usefulness of chiropractic care, undercut insurance programs for patients of chiropractors, subvert government inquiries into the efficacy of chiropractic, engage in a massive disinformation campaign to discredit and destabilize the chiropractic profession and engage in numerous other activities to maintain a medical physician monopoly over health care in this country." Today, chiropractic is practiced in over 100 countries and is the single most utilized form of complimentary and alternative health care in the United States.
- A Change of Ideas
In the past, Americans believed they were healthy until they felt sick. Now, much of our attitude has changed. It is now common knowledge that most diseases only manifest notable symptoms in their end stages. Once the chest pains of a heart attack are noticed, the years of artery hardening and blockage have already occurred. Cancer, diabetes, many diseases go un-noticed until it is too late. Can you imagine what your mouth would look like if you only went to the dentist when your teeth hurt? In the U.S., we are top notch when it comes to emergency medicine. If someone falls off of a roof, it gives them a great advantage that the ground they fall on is American. That person's odds of survival greatly increase due to our proficiency in dealing with emergency health issues. However, as mentioned before, our maintenance of our population's long-term health leaves something to be desired. Ironically, many of us maintain our cars better than we maintain ourselves. We are currently at a crossroads where we have to begin taking responsibility for our own health. A chiropractor can help you begin this process.
-What do Chiropractors Do Exactly?
There are many different types of chiropractors who all focus on different aspects of maintaining your health. Some have special training in nutrition, while others focus on posture; others, on the needs of children. Some Sports Chiropractors, like Dr. Jeff Spencer who was the first to see Lance after he would get off of his bike and the last before he got back on during the Tour de France. From techniques that focus on foot posture, to others that integrate acupuncture into their arsenal of tools for helping people; there is a chiropractor well suited to meeting your specific needs. The chiropractic philosophy goes beyond symptoms in an attempt to understand and address the state of health of the patient. So how do I find the one that is right for me?
-Finding Your Chiropractor
The number one thing you need to know before finding a chiropractor is what you want to get out of your chiropractic experience. This will be of immense benefit to you before you walk through the door. Communicate with your chiropractor before your exam about what your concerns are and if he or she thinks that they can be of help. If you are concerned with diet, ask if they've had any special training in that area. If you were a victim of a motor vehicle accident, ask if he or she is educated on the specific needs of a whiplash injury case. Call around to other chiropractors and ask if they know of any that have a special interest in your types of goals.
-What You Can Expect From Your Chiropractic Experience
On your first visit the doctor will most likely do a complete neurological and orthopedic exam. Feel free to ask questions. It has been described in the literature that patients prefer their visits to their chiropractic physician because they feel a true concern by the chiropractor for their well-being. Chiropractors typically love to educate their patients. In a media dominated by every eighth commercial asking you if you have "Restless Leg Syndrome", chiropractors often feel it is their duty to keep you informed on the issues that can help you make decisions regarding your health maintenance. The doctor may or may not require x-rays. This is for two reasons. One reason is that the doctor may suspect a deeper lying issue and wants to ensure that his or her picture of your condition is accurate. Another reason a chiropractor may wish to take films is to check the bones for alignment. Many chiropractors focus on posture. It is one of the most heavily researched aspects of chiropractic practice.
You may have an alteration in the normal curves of the spine that could be negatively impacting your health, or even causing your symptoms. It is important to ask the doctor if he or she suggests that posture is your specific problem, if they plan to correct it. While adjustments of the spine are excellent at improving spinal motion and decreasing pain, other tools such as special exercises, stretches, and other modalities are usually required to actually change spinal posture. Ask the doctor about this and if he or she is familiar with any of these techniques. Lastly, the doctor will give what is called a "report of findings". This is the time when he or she will most likely tell you what they think is wrong, if it is a chiropractic case, how long it will take, and how much it will cost. If your chiropractor fails to mention one of these points, simply ask. Remember, there are many different chiropractors, so if your first experience was less than satisfactory, don't give up. It is important to find someone to help you navigate your health decisions in the journey of living a healthy lifestyle.
o Spinal Adjustments - These are normally non-painful fast stretches of joints that keep a joint healthy and moving properly. There is also increasing evidence that the neurological input from these adjustments greatly affect the nervous system. Spinal adjustments have recently been found to even affect the regions of your nervous system that control blood pressure, as was found in the January issue of The Journal of Human Hypertension.
o Physiotherapy - Exercises, ice, heat, stretches, and massage are also areas that your chiropractor may be trained in. These often compliment the adjustment and strengthen the muscles and other tissues around your joints.
o Supplements - Chiropractors often offer nutritional counseling as an adjunct to their adjustments. These additions to your diet can help give your body the vitamins and minerals that are essential to the healing process.
There are literally hundreds of different tools at the chiropractor's disposal that all uniquely help their patients and their conditions. From the locally developed Impulse® adjusting instrument that puts specific low forces into mechanical receptors of the spine, to special tables designed to move in such a way that pumps fluid in and out of a degenerated spinal disc. A chiropractic office can be a playground full of opportunities to improve the function of your body!
-How Do I Know if I Need a Chiropractor?
Do you need a chiropractor? Do you need a dentist? My dentist always says, "You only floss the teeth you want to keep." You only adjust the joints that you want to move. Nowhere, is there such an aggregation of different types of tissue anywhere in the body. Your spine houses your central nervous system. It uses the information it gets from movement to help build the synaptic array of your brain. Its maintenance is vital to a life that is free of debilitation. Next time you're walking through a mall, notice how others look. Look at the people older than yourself. You'll see that two 60 or even 70-year-old men will be at completely different points in the miles left on their bodies. Where are you on that journey? Time is the only currency that your body's health and wellness will accept. We must all take active steps to ensure that our quality of life maintained into our later years. You need someone to help you make these decisions, and help you focus on the areas that need the most attention. There is a chiropractic physician out there for you, who can guide you on your journey of increased health and wellness.
For more information, visit my website at
Aaron L. Wiegand, DC, CCST
22849 N. 19th Ave #115
Phoenix, AZ 85027

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