Chiropractic Care Yields Unexpected Results
by Marlaina Donato
Chiropractors are often perceived as back pain specialists, but optimal chiropractic care treats the whole person from the inside-out, starting with the nervous system. This means practitioners can address many conditions that transcend typical expectations.
The human spinal column sports 31 pairs of nerves, some corresponding directly to digestive, reproductive and respiratory organs, which might explain why regular spinal adjustments and other chiropractic techniques can be helpful for seemingly unrelated conditions like asthma, chronic headaches, hormonal imbalances and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.
A scientific review of 179 published papers focusing on various non-musculoskeletal conditions shows benefits of full-body chiropractic treatment for asthma, infantile colic and cervical vertigo. Results are also promising for middle ear infections in children and pneumonia in seniors.
Clinical evidence suggests the nervous system is a cohesive factor in achieving overall wellness. “In chiropractic and holistic philosophy, the body is considered a self-healing organism,” explains chiropractic physician and applied kinesiologist Marc Terebelo, of the Chiropractic Wellness Center, in Southfield, Michigan. “The nervous system controls the body, so issues in the toes or fingers may be caused by spinal issues in the neck and low back. Likewise, bladder and menstrual cycle problems can be caused by injury to the low back or pelvic regions.”
William J. Lauretti, a New York Chiropractic College professor in Seneca Falls, concurs with the benefits of holistic treatment. “Chiropractors view the body as an integrated unit, and problems in one area might affect a seemingly unrelated area,” he says. “Most chiropractors have a wide variety of treatment approaches to offer, including advice on nutrition, lifestyle, stress management and exercise.”
Chiropractic and Digestion
It’s worth noting that the nerves that innervate important digestive anatomy—from the salivary glands to the stomach down through the intestinal tract—branch off the spinal cord at various levels of the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine. “This means that chiropractic adjustments given to [the] neck, mid-back, lower back and sacrum are important to optimal digestive function,” says chiropractor Sean Cailteux, of Exodus Health, in Shawnee, Kansas.
In his practice, Lauretti has observed better digestion as a positive side effect to regular adjustments. “I’ve had a few patients over the years who reported improvement in digestive problems after chiropractic treatment of the mid- and low back. In some of those cases, the improvement was serendipitous, because the patient didn’t discuss their digestive symptoms initially, only after they noticed the improvement.”
Hope for Headaches and TMJ Dysfunction
Chronic tension headaches and migraines can become the norm for too many individuals, but chiropractic care—including spinal adjustments, nutrition advice and addressing emotional causes such as stress and anxiety—can be key in reducing pain and getting to the root of the problem.
“Technically, only headaches with a list of very particular characteristics can be properly diagnosed as migraines,” Lauretti explains. “The cause of many cases of chronic, long-term headaches is often from poor function of the muscles and joints in the neck.” These types of headaches often respond well to treatment focused on restoring normal function to the neck, he says.
TMJ disorders can cause painful and sometimes debilitating symptoms, including facial and tooth pain and locking of the jaw. Chiropractic treatments often provide reliable relief. “The TMJ is a very important joint in the body, with thousands of neuroreceptors. TMJ involvements can cause headaches, particularly around the ear or side of the head, vertigo, tinnitus and other hearing issues,” says Terebelo.
Cailteux notes that aside from experiencing jaw pain and headaches, someone suffering from TMJ disorder may have difficulty chewing, and may experience an audible clicking of the jaw with movement. “Chiropractic adjustments can be particularly helpful, especially when delivered to the TM joint and the neck. Gentle, soft-tissue manipulation of the muscles and tendons of the jaw, specifically the masseter, temporalis and pterygoid muscles, is also a highly effective treatment.”
For a true holistic approach and lasting success, Lauretti offers this advice: “Look for a doctor who is willing to work as part of your healthcare team and who’s willing to refer you for specialty care when appropriate.”
Marlaina Donato is the author of several books, including Multidimensional Aromatherapy. She is also a composer. Connect at AutumnEmbersMusic.com.