Ask Drs. Lanzara – Frequently Asked Chiropractic Questions

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chiropractic-questionsQ. What makes my 8 yr old grandson be able to crack his back and is it good for him to do?

A. Most often children crack their backs because they are experiencing discomfort. Although the child may get short term comfort, self-manipulation isn’t good for the spinal ligaments; Future problems could arise. It would be best to schedule a chiropractic examination to determine where the problem is.

Q: Can chiropractic help stomach ulcers?

A: You may be aware stomach ulcers develop from an overproduction of stomach acid. The acid begins to eat at the stomach wall resulting in an ulcer. The stomach needs to produce the correct amount of hydrochloric acid (HCL) in order to digest. If there isn’t enough HCL, the undigested food begins to ferment. This produces abnormal acids that sting and burn and often times get backed up into the esophagus, alluding to conditions such as acid reflux, gastrointestinal reflux disease (GIRD), and ulcers. We commonly find the lack of HCL is related to a lack of digestive enzymes and interference along the nerve which controls proper stomach function. Standard Process nutritional supplements are helpful in aiding the restoration of digestive enzymes, along with maintaining proper spinal alignment. The stomach receives messages through a nerve which exists from between the spinal bones in the middle back. The vagus nerve, which controls a significant amount of digestive function, runs along the left and right side of the upper neck. Chiropractic doctors can check for proper spinal alignment in these areas.

Q: I have terrible allergies. My friend told me to see a chiropractor. What can you do for allergies?

A: Allergies are the result of a chemical imbalance inside your body, causing an overproduction of histamine. This imbalance creates a hypersensitivity to various allergens such as ragweed pollen, mold, and grass. Your nervous system controls proper chemical balance. Spinal misalignments cause nerve pressure creating a “short circuit”, which interrupt this balance. Chiropractic doctors correct spinal misalignments to relieve nerve pressure thus enhancing proper chemical balance and function. With proper body function, you have the highest potential to ward off allergies and asthmatic symptoms.

Q: I often get sinus congestion, which blocks my ears. Can chiropractic help?

A: Yes. Often times sinus congestion is the result of a backed up lymph system. There are numerous lymph nodes in the neck that cannot drain properly when spinal misalignments exist. Hence the lymph overflow will back up into the sinus cavities and ears, often leading to sinus and ear infections. With proper neck alignment, the body can function normally to allow lymph drainage.

Q: I have arthritis in my neck. I’m only 48 years old. Can you explain why I’m getting arthritis so early?

A: Arthritis is most often the result of uncorrected spinal misalignments. Regardless of age, when spinal misalignments go uncorrected, the body deposits calcium on the surface of the bones that aren’t moving properly. If neglected long enough, this splinting can result in complete fusion of the spinal bones. Hence, leading to severe arthritis and degenerative disc disease. Doctors of Chiropractic specialize in detecting spinal misalignments and use gentle adjustments to restore proper joint motion.

Q: My child has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder. I don’t want to put him on drugs, is there anything a chiropractor can do?

A: Doctors of chiropractic have reported successes with ADD. By checking the child for spinal misalignments and nutritional deficiencies, many underlying causes for the symptoms associated with ADD can be found and corrected. Research statistics show chiropractic care to be 20-40% more effective than the drugs prescribed for ADD. Certainly the chiropractic approach is worth looking into.

Q: I have back pain. I’ve been treating with physical therapy with little relief. Should I try chiropractic?  

A: YES. Chiropractors are licensed doctors with training in diagnosis and x-ray. Chiropractic doctors (D.C.) work with nerves, muscles, and bones; unlike physical therapist who work principally with muscles. Usually pain is an indicator that nerve pressure exists and not merely the result of weak back muscles. D.C.’s specialize in correction the vertebral subluxation complex (VSC). By correction VSC, chiropractors can alleviate the 5 components of VSC, which are muscle spasms, inflammation, nerve impingement, limited joint movement, and joint degeneration. I advise chiropractic first for structural correction otherwise you are strengthening muscles on a poor structure.

Q: What is sciatica?

A: Sciatica is a condition of sciatic nerve irritation, creating intense pain shooting down into the legs. The sciatic nerves are the largest nerves in the body, which run down the back of each leg. Spinal misalignments can irritate the sciatic nerve roots that exit from the bones in the lower back. Frequently misaligned hip bones can also create sciatic nerve pain. For this reason, research shows chiropractic care to be 9% more effective than the use of standard medical treatments of pain medication, muscle relaxers, and therapy. Sciatica is common during pregnancy, it is advisable to consult a doctor of chiropractic

Q: I had back surgery (a spinal fusion), can I see a chiropractor? My pain has returned and I don’t want to go through another surgery.

A: Chiropractic is safe and effective for patients who have undergone back surgery, including spinal fusions. It’s an unfortunate fact that back surgeries have a 53% failure rate. This failure is known as “failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS)”. The chiropractic approach is to restore normal motion and position of the spinal bones to relieve pressure on the delicate spinal nerves and surrounding soft tissue. Patients have avoided back surgeries and pain relievers with chiropractic treatment. Many patients with FBSS have documented relief with chiropractic treatment. Chiropractic will cause no further harm and may help prevent repeated surgeries.

Q: I walk frequently on the sidewalk. I notice my back hurts afterwards. Is this bad for me?

A: Walking on hard, flat surfaces is very restrictive on your back; it is best to walk on uneven surfaces, as it allows the pelvis to move more freely, and provides flexibility within the knee and foot joints. If you still experience back discomfort, I would advise a chiropractic examination. The pelvis, knees or feet might not be properly aligned, causing joint restriction, which also results in back discomfort.

Q: I just started working out at the gym. I feel tension in my lower back when I’m on the treadmill. Do you think I could be out of alignment?

A: Possibly, but a chiropractic checkup would determine whether the tension is from a misalignment or just muscular. Spinal misalignments cause muscles to become tight. If a spinal misalignment exists, exercising can exacerbate the muscle and result in muscle spasm or weakness. A chiropractic adjustment relieves the muscle tightness and enhances joint mobility.

Q: What can chiropractors do for carpal tunnel?

A: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) occurs when the median nerve is irritated. The median nerve runs from the fingertips through the bones in your wrist, up to the elbow, arm, shoulder, neck, and into the spinal cord. Bones in the wrist form a carpal “tunnel”, in which the median nerve, nine tendons, and blood vessels pass through. If any of these bones misalign, nerve irritation, muscle weakness, inflammation, and pain can occur. Additionally, the bones in the lower neck can misalign and irritate the nerve causing similar symptoms into the fingers and wrist. Chiropractic doctors perform specific adjustments where needed to relieve the nerve irritation. Chiropractic adjustments have produced excellent results in CTS sufferers – without the use of drugs, cortisone injections, or surgery. “Anyone suffering from carpal tunnel should see a chiropractor to ensure the spinal column is free from nerve pressure between the arms and wrists and the nerves in the neck”. — PREVENTION MAGAZINE

Q: Is there a difference between a manipulation and an adjustment?

A: Yes. A manipulation is not specific and uses leverage to mobilize multiple joints. An adjustment is a short lever, specific, controlled force to correct one specific spinal misalignment. Doctors of Chiropractic (D.C.) are specifically trained to perform adjustments. Adjustments used to correct spinal misalignments produce optimum joint stability, which results in long-term correction. Manipulation requires repetition to offer short-term relief but no specific corrective measures.

Q: Do chiropractors have medical (M.D.) degrees?

A: Chiropractors are licensed as Doctors of Chiropractic (D.C.). The coursework is similar and the textbooks are the same. The license differs as chiropractic doctors do not learn prescription drugs and medical doctors do not learn chiropractic adjusting or nutritional health.

Q: How are chiropractors educated? What is the difference between chiropractors and MD’s? Are you doctors?

A: Chiropractors are licensed Doctors of Chiropractic (D.C.). After undergraduate studies in pre-med subjects, chiropractic students must complete 4,485 total hours to receive their doctor of chiropractic degree. The total hours required to become a licensed doctor of chiropractic is surprising to most, as medical doctors only have 4,248 hours. The doctor of chiropractic has nearly 250 hours more than a medical doctor. The education is similar and we study from the same books. The difference between MD’s and DC’s is that DC’s learn spinal alignment techniques, nutrition and advanced x-ray, while MD’s learn prescription drugs and minor surgery.

Q: Can chiropractic cause strokes?

A: With 35-40 million chiropractic adjustments performed each year; research shows chiropractic to be safe. A thorough chiropractic examination, x-rays, and history are taken prior to any adjustments. Chiropractic doctors have extensive training in performing controlled and very specific chiropractic adjustments. Anyone other than a licensed doctor of chiropractic (D.C.) attempting to give a pseudo adjustment is not recommended and should be avoided. The highest causal incidence of strokes is due to vascular disease, invasive medical procedures, diabetes and medications especially NSAIDs such as Ibuprofen.

Q: Is chiropractic for just for people with low back pain?

A: No. Chiropractic is for everyone. You don’t need to wait until you have pain to see a chiropractor. Chiropractors check for proper spinal alignment and spinal health. Not all spinal misalignments cause pain; therefore a spinal checkup is a good idea. Just as a periodic checkup for your teeth, eyes, blood pressure, and cholesterol can serve as an early detection of health problems.

Q: Why do people go to chiropractors? Does everybody have a bad back?

A: Patients start chiropractic care for various reasons – work injuries, car accidents, slips/falls, headaches, pain, acid reflux, fibromyalgia, asthma, and many other symptoms. However one doesn’t need to have a symptom to be examined for a spinal condition known as vertebral subluxation complex (VSC). Similar to dental cavities, VSC can exist for years before symptoms appear. Therefore periodic spinal checkups are a wise choice.

Q: At what age can you be adjusted?

A: Any age. Chiropractors are educated in pediatric through geriatric conditions. There are 75 chiropractic adjusting techniques to accommodate specific spinal needs and conditions at any age.

Q: At what age should you see a chiropractor?

A: Ideally at birth; Often times the birth process can cause spinal misalignments. As the infant’s spinal bones, ligaments, and muscles develop it is important to ensure good spinal alignment. Obviously if a spinal misalignment is detected early and corrected, the child will be able to develop a good spinal structure. Similarly to dental checkups, the earlier you begin caring for your teeth; you lessen the severity of tooth decay and cavities.

Q: Is chiropractic nationally and government recognized?

A: Yes. Chiropractors must pass national and state exams prior to practicing. Federal government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid include coverage for chiropractic. Additionally, the veterans’ administration covers chiropractic as per the request of millions of veterans through the years.

Q: I’d like to try chiropractic, but it seems that once you start going you have to keep going. Is this true?

A: No, you don’t have to; however most patients choose to keep going. Here’s why. There are 3 choices in chiropractic health care: relief care, corrective care, and maintenance. Some patients come in until they are pain-free, this is referred to as relief care; others choose the more corrective route. Once a patient reaches the corrective phase of healing, they often choose to maintain the level of health they have achieved, hence they return for periodic spinal check-ups. Just like the importance of regular check-ups for your eyes, teeth, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Often times a patient’s educated choice to return for regular check-ups is misconstrued by people who haven’t experienced the benefits of chiropractic care, as an indication that you have to keep going.

Q: I went to a chiropractor once for neck pain. I still had pain after the first visit, so I never went back. Nothing seems to work. What would you advise?

A: Return to the chiropractor for follow up care. Some patients experience pain relief within the first few visits – others take longer. Chiropractic care may or may not alleviate pain in several visits, however it takes time to correct a spinal misalignment. The time varies on the severity of the misalignment and how long it’s been there. Spinal misalignments that have existed for years will not be corrected within a few visits. Correcting spinal misalignments is similar to exercising; exercising once really does nothing, but repetitive exercise produces visible results.

Q: Are support belts good for minimizing injuries?  

A: Support belts are good when weight lifting. Often times support belts are misused for daily use. Continual daily use causes muscle weakness. The belt becomes a cast to the weak muscles, increasing the chance of injury. For example, notice the muscle atrophy/shrinkage that exists after a cast is removed. A support belt has the same effect over an extended period of time. Like girdles in the 1950’s, an increase in prolapsed uteruses and incontinent bladders resulted. No proven research exists that support belts minimize injury; support belts are recommended most likely for liability reasons. For an ideal solution to minimize injury, we recommend chiropractic care, regular exercise and specific nutrition.

Q: I am taking a cholesterol-lowering drug, but my cholesterol is still high. Can you help?

A: Most people with high cholesterol have malfunctioning internal organs (usually gall bladder or liver). The liver produces 80% of your cholesterol. The gall bladder is in charge of breaking down fats and cholesterol. Despite your diet, cholesterol will increase if either one of these organs are not functioning optimally. Spinal nerves, located in your midback, control these organs. Our clinic offers chiropractic along with clinical nutrition to determine if you have either problem.

Q: My 2 month old son has very bad colic. I’ve taken him to the pediatrician numerous times and everything is normal. I’m frustrated! Can you offer any advice on this?

A: Colic, unexplained crying, poor appetite, breathing problems, allergies, and ear infections can often be the result of spinal nerve irritation. Even “natural” birthing methods can cause spinal misalignments due to the normal 180 degree rotation of the infant’s head along with 90 pounds of force. Forceps or vacuum extractors, heighten the likelihood of spinal nerve irritation. Key nerves that control cardiovascular and respiratory function are located in the neck. Spinal misalignments cause nerve irritation, leading to improper function and hence a variety of newborn health problems. Schedule a chiropractic evaluation for your son. Also ask your doctor of chiropractic for a nutritional evaluation, your son may be getting too much iron. Newborns don’t have stomach enzymes to digest iron until age 1.

Q: I have a herniated disc. Is it safe to be adjusted?

A: Yes, There are specific chiropractic techniques designed to help with disc problems- herniations, bulges and ruptures. Chiropractic doctors are specially trained in this area. A disc is like a jelly donut situated between spinal bones. When spinal bones misalign the disc in between gets compressed and eventually leads to disc problems. The chiropractic adjustment restores normal joint motion to alleviate nerve and disc pressure, which allows the disc to heal properly.

Q: An MRI shows that I have a bulging disc in my low back. I’m currently in PT, is there something else I should do?

A: You should also consult a chiropractor. A bulging disc is the symptom of a vertebral subluxation. When vertebrae (spinal bones) subluxate the disc in between gets squeezed which results in a bulging of the disc. Chiropractic doctors specialize in correcting the vertebral subluxation to alleviate the pressure on the bulging disc.

Q: I’ve been diagnosed with a slipped disc. What is a slipped disc?

A: Technically, a disc can’t “slip”. The intervertebral disc is a pad of cartilage-type material situated between spinal bones. Each disc serves as a spacer and shock absorber for the spine. A soft, jelly-like center is contained by outer layers of fibrous tissue. Healthy discs help allow normal turning and bending. Because of the way each disc is attached to the vertebrae above and below, a disc cannot “slip”. Trauma or injury to the spine can cause discs to tear, bulge, herniate, or rupture. This can be quite painful, as the soft center of the disc leaks, putting pressure on the nerve roots and spinal cord. Doctors of chiropractic can position the spinal bones to alleviate excess pressure on the disc, enabling the disc to heal. Picture a jelly donut being compressed between the jaws, if the pressure of the jaws can be alleviated, the jelly is no longer being compressed. While results cannot be guaranteed, many patients have avoided needless surgery or a dependency on pain pills, by choosing chiropractic care for their disc related health problem.

Q: What causes a disc to degenerate?

A: Primarily poor spinal alignment. Discs lie between the spinal bones. Good spinal alignment allows joint fluids to circulate into the discs, which keeps them healthy. When spinal bones misalign they squeeze the disc and impair joint fluids from circulating into the disc. The disc then becomes stiff and hard, which eventually causes degeneration to occur. Periodic chiropractic check-ups are a wise choice for early detection. In severe cases, chiropractic care can slow or stop the degenerative process from getting worse.

Q: Can chiropractors help ear infections (otitis media)?

A: Research shows that ear infections may be caused by improper drainage of the lymphatics in the neck along with improper nerve supply. Pressure upon nerves in the neck, known as subluxations, may lead to increased muscle tone, causing a reduction in lymphatic drainage. This allows fluid to build up in the ear, making an inviting environment for bacteria and viruses. Chiropractors correct subluxations. This reduces the muscle tension to allow proper lymphatic drainage. Once proper drainage is restored, the recurrence of ear infections is diminished and most often nonexistent. A study examining improvement from chiropractic care of children with otitis media concluded that 93% of all episodes improved, 75% within 10 days or less.

Q: What is fibromyalgia? Can chiropractic help?

A: Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by muscle pain and joint stiffness, particularly in the neck, shoulders, hips, and spine. Fibromyalgia affects 6 million Americans and is difficult to diagnose, because many of the symptoms mimic other conditions. Recent studies show that chiropractic treatment, nutrition, and exercise resulted in less pain and overall improvement with other symptoms associated with this condition, such as sleep disturbances, morning stiffness, irritable bowel syndrome, and anxiety.