Chiropractic is a health care profession that focuses on treatment of disorders within the musculoskeletal and nervous systems. Muscular, nervous, and skeletal problems are among the symptoms treated by chiropractic care.
Chiropractors specialize in correcting spinal misalignment. These misalignments of the spine are called subluxations. Often chiropractors manipulate the spine and various parts of the body by hand using specific procedures. Chiropractors also use conventional diagnostic tests such as MRIs, X-Rays, and lab work to provide treatment for their patients. Chiropractic treatment may also include:
- Ice/heat therapy
- Therapeutic exercise
- Therapeutic ultrasound
- Lifestyle counseling
- Massage therapy
- Nutritional counseling
- Physical rehabilitation
- Stress management
Neck pain, although felt in the neck, can be caused by numerous other spinal problems. Neck pain may arise due to muscular tightness in both the neck and upper back, or pinching of the nerves emanating from the cervical vertebrae. Joint disruption in the neck creates pain, as does joint disruption in the upper back. Two thirds of the population will suffer from neck pain at some point in their lives.
The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the human body and one of the most common causes of leg pain. The term sciatica is used to describe the symptoms of pain occurring in the leg and lower back. Some use the term specifically to mean a nerve dysfunction caused by compression of one or more lumbar or sacral nerve roots from a spinal disc herniation.
When the liquid center of a disc bulges outwards, herniation occurs. The bulged disc can then tear against external ring fibers, contact the spinal canal, and compress a nerve root against the lamina or pedicle of a vertebra. This causes sciatica. The liquid extruded when this happens can cause inflammation and swelling of the surrounding tissue which can further compress the nerve root into the confined space of the spinal canal.
Sciatic pain typically runs through the lower back and down the sciatic nerve through the leg and can even run all the way down to the foot. Numbness, tingling, burning, and pricking sensations are all symptoms that may occur in cases of sciatic injury.
Sciatica is caused by compression of lumbar nerves, sacral nerves, and/or the sciatic nerve. Sciatic damage can be permanent, thus it is important that you seek medical attention if you are suffering from these symptoms.
The application of ice is an excellent way to reduce inflammation and temporary pain. Ice causes constriction in the veins of the affected tissue, limiting blood flow and acting as an anesthetic. Once the ice is removed, blood will rush back to the affected area providing nutrients that will help with the healing process.
Ice therapy is often used in the treatment of back and neck pain. It lessens the severity of muscle spasms, reduces pain by causing numbness, and aids in lessening soft tissue damage.
Ice or ice packs should be wrapped in a towel while being used for treatment. Ice therapy should be used on the affected area for 24 to 48 hours from the initial ache or injury. It is recommended to reapply it every 10 minutes for maximum affect and to not leave it on for more than 20 minutes at a time.
Patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, Raynaud’s Syndrome, colds or allergic conditions, paralysis, or areas of impaired sensation should not use ice therapy.
Most commonly used for rehabilitation purposes, heat therapy is the application of heat to the body for pain relief and health. It can be performed using something as simple as a heat to cloth to as advanced as ultrasound.
The therapeutic effects of heat include increasing the extensibility of collagen tissues; decreasing joint stiffness; reducing pain; relieving muscle spasms; reducing inflammation, edema, and aids in the post acute phase of healing; and increasing blood flow. The increased blood flow to the affected area provides proteins, nutrients, and oxygen for better healing.
Heat creates higher tissue temperatures, which produces vasodilation that increases the supply of oxygen, and nutrients and the elimination of carbon dioxide and metabolic waste. It is useful for muscle spasms, myalgia, fibromyalgia, contracture, and bursitis.Heat therapy can also be used for the treatment of headaches and migraines.
Heat therapy is only part of the therapeutic procedure that is chiropractic, and rarely provides a full extent of recovery without it.
Heat therapy should not be used on swollen or bruised tissues. It is advised that patients who have dermatitis, deep vein thrombosis, diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, open wounds, and cardiovascular conditions such as hypertension not use heat therapy.