Frequently Asked Questions
What causes the sound of an adjustment? - Actually, not all adjusting techniques produce the sound associated with "popping of knuckles". Some create no sound at all; some create only a small sound. Many techniques, however, do create the sound of spinal "release." What causes it? The British research team that took x-ray movies of people "popping" their knuckles may have solved the mystery. The sound appears to be caused by gas rushing in to fill the partial vacuum created when the joints were slightly separated.
Is it Bad to "Crack" Your own Neck or Back? - Yes. Not only does it not correct the problem, it is dangerous if done incorrectly. The desire to "crack" your own neck or back is caused by tension from a jammed or fixated vertebra, which causes another part of the spine to compensate by moving too much and "popping" out of place. The jammed joints should be adjusted by a licensed Doctor of Chiropractic so that the rest of the spinal column will become balanced and remain in place.
So Am I Not "Adjusting" Myself when I "crack" my own neck or back? - No. Self "cracking" does not have the same benefit as a specific Chiropractic "adjustment". Cracking or popping your own neck may produce temporary relief, however, the urge to pop or crack reappears because the cause, a vertebral subluxation, has not been corrected. What makes a Chiropractic adjustment special is the fact that a Doctor of Chiropractic is trained for many years to accurately and specifically find and correct your vertebral subluxations with a specific Chiropractic adjustment.
What Is A Vertebral Subluxation (misalignment)? - This scientific word simply describes one or more spinal bones that are out of their natural alignment or not moving properly, thereby irritating delicate nerve tissues and causing health problems in your body.
Can I Tell If I Have A Subluxation Without Consulting A doctor of chiropractic? - NOT ALWAYS. A subluxation is like a dental cavity – you may have it for a long time before symptoms appear. That's why regular spinal checkups are so important. Although it may be possible to know you have a subluxation, it is rarely possible to be sure you don't. An occasional spinal checkup is always a good idea. Subluxations can occur from many things that happen in everyday life, like stress, slips, falls, minor car accidents, sleeping wrong, plane rides, etc. Even if you are subluxation free now, next week you may not be.
At What Age Should Chiropractic Begin? - Chiropractic spinal checkups should begin at birth. A difficult or traumatic birth can cause subluxations. The best time to correct a subluxation is immediately after it occurs, rather than waiting for it to become worse. The most active period in life is during childhood, therefore a great deal of spinal trauma is experienced during this time. (Go to the nearest park and observe a group of childrenl...you can almost feel their subluxations developing with each slip, tumble, wrestling match, skateboard fall and bicycle crash!) Just like getting your first dental check-up, it is vitally important to have your spine checked at an early age. Unlike losing baby teeth, we are only given one spine to last a lifetime!
Is Chiropractic Care Addictive? - No. If only it was (just a little!), there would be a lot less sick people in the world, and chiropractors wouldn't get those patients who last had an adjustment "a few years ago when my back went out." Our entire society would be much better off with a healthy spine and nervous system. It is possible to get used to feeling more balanced, less stressed and more energetic as a result of regular chiropractic care. You may also become more sensitive to and in tune with your body, knowing when you're out of alignment.
Can I Go Only Once? - Yes. Once is better than never, and your level of Chiropractic care is always your decision. In a perfect world, wouldn't it be nice if we had to go to the dentist only once to have perfect teeth, exercise one time to maintain a perfect body, or eat only one healthy meal to satisfy our nutritional needs? The reality is that in order to achieve and maintain a "healthy you", it takes a lifelong commitment. Why not enjoy the benefits that a healthy body has to offer when it is functioning optimally, free of subluxations.
What Will Happen If I Stop Care? - Unfortunately, life's stresses will always continue to bombard your body, causing spine and nerve pressure to build up as before. However, if your spine is not checked and adjusted regularly, your body and overall health will suffer because the spine and nerve stress is not being reduced or eliminated.
Is Chiropractic Similar to Massage? - No. Chiropractic works with the spinal column, nervous system and its surrounding tissues, body structure and posture. Massage therapists work with muscle tension, circulation and body fluid drainage. However, in conjunction with Chiropractic care, massage is very beneficial to your health and well being.
Do Chiropractors Work In Hospitals? - Yes. Today's Chiropractors have privileges in many hospitals. Ideally, Doctors of Chiropractic would go through each ward and check every patient's spine; after all, who needs a body that is able to adapt and respond more than people facing life-threatening diseases? The presence of D.C.'s in hospitals is a welcome beginning – hopefully paving the way toward drugless, natural methods of chiropractic care available to all hospital patients.
Can A Person Who HAS Had Back Surgery See A Chiropractor? - Yes! It's an unfortunate fact that more than 2/3rds of those who've had spinal surgery discover a return of their original symptoms, months or years later. They then face the prospect of additional surgery. This too common occurrence is known as "Failed Back Surgery Syndrome." Chiropractic may help prevent repeated operations and can correct the cause of the problem, which lead to the symptoms in the first place.
Can Chiropractic Prevent Back Surgery? - In a majority of cases the answer is a resounding "YES." Every day, around the world, patients in Chiropractic offices are spared the irreversible and often damaging effects of spinal surgery.
Can A Person With A Broken Back Or Neck See A Chiropractor? - After the break heals, yes. In fact, a broken bone forms a callus or bone scar when it heals that is stronger than the rest of the bone. This should dispel any concerns about the safety of an adjustment. People who have had broken bones especially need chiropractic checkups because accidents usually cause spinal subluxations throughout the body.
Is Chiropractic Safe? - Chiropractic is among the safest of the healing arts. As proof, one merely has to compare malpractice rates between chiropractors and other health professionals. Chiropractors' malpractice premiums are a small fraction of those for medical doctors, especially orthopedists and surgeons. This is because the insurance companies carefully calculate the risk of injury and even death when determining malpractice premiums.
Can I Go To A Chiropractor If I Am Under Medical Care? - Absolutely. Having your subluxations corrected is a good idea, no matter what other type of health care you are receiving. Today many D.C.'s and M.D.'s are working together in clinics and on joint research projects. M.D.'s are quite likely to have patients who are under chiropractic care; in fact, many medical doctors see a Doctor of Chiropractic (spine specialists) themselves; just as medical doctors see dentists (tooth specialists).
Do Chiropractors Believe in Medicine and Surgery? - Certainly, as Norman Cousins says: "There are times when intervention in the form of medicine and surgery is absolutely necessary, but there is never a time when the nourishment one puts into one's body or one's mind is not essential to health." Chiropractic would add spinal care to Mr. Cousins' observation. *Cousins, N The Healing Heart, New York: Avon Books, 1984.
Can Spines Automatically Go Back Into Place? - Yes. There are verified instances of blind people recovering eyesight after a fall, of individuals able to walk again after their wheelchair was thrown, and of amnesiacs who remember their past after receiving a trauma – these are examples of "accidental adjustments." A visit to the chiropractor is much safer. Also, many types of therapy, including massage and various body work, can reduce musculoskeletal stress, sometimes permitting the spine to automatically realign, as will a cathartic emotional release. Occasionally, even a good night's sleep can correct a subluxation.
I'm Not Sick, Should I See A Chiropractor? - Yes. Symptoms are not a good way to judge health, and they usually surface after years of body malfunction. It is a clinical fact that our immune system is directly linked to our nervous system. Regular adjustments help remove nervous system stress, thereby allowing proper communication between the nervous system and the immune system.
How Often Should I Get A Chiropractic Adjustment? - The answer is "as soon as you develop a subluxation." But since subluxations are often painless, it's a good idea to get your spine checked regularly, just as you get your teeth checked regularly for 'painless' cavities.