The first answer that likely comes to your mind is, “they adjust the spine”. But the reality is, chiropractors offer much more. At Elite Spine & Sport our focus is on MOVEMENT. Allow me to explain what I mean. To adjust the spine is looking only at the ranges of motion of specific joints, and this makes up only a part of movement. True movement incorporates motion of joints with the addition of coordination, stability, balance and body awareness (proprioception). For this reason, quality motion does not necessarily translate into quality movement.
So now you’re probably saying to yourself, “that’s great Doc, but tell me what that movement stuff has to do with me and my pain”. I’m so glad you asked. Well, your body is connected much like a chain, meaning your ankle is linked to your knee and your knee to your hip and then your hip to your low back, etc. Some areas should be more mobile such as the ankle and hip, while other areas require more stability such as the knee and low back. In an assessment of your spine, I may find you have more than enough motion throughout the joints in your low back, but if I assess your hips, they may be restricted in motion. Since you now have restricted motion in one area (the hips), another area must move a little bit extra to make up for that loss (your low back). Remember, the low back is one of those areas that should be more stable. The added stress of excessive low back mobility over time greatly increases your chances of developing low back pain. So now your low back aches and appears to be the problem, but the REAL problem is a lack of hip mobility and without addressing the hips, your low back will not get relief.
So what I am telling you now is that we cannot simply look at where your pain is in order to determine proper treatment applications. We must step back and look at the big picture. We will typically begin by performing whole body movement evaluations. Examples of this could be watching a person perform a squat, lunge, single leg balance test and several others. It can then be gathered what joints in your body have limited range of motion and what joints are being improperly stabilized. These observations are then confirmed with muscle and joint palpations (palpation is examining by touch).
Once a proper functional diagnosis has been made the joints that are restricted in their range of motion are mobilized using either manipulation or soft tissue treatments like Active Release Techniques® and the areas with excessive mobility are appropriately stabilized using various rehabilitation approaches. Once these areas of dysfunction have been addressed your movement patterns are then reassessed and you’ll find that you’re able to perform them much more easily and with significantly less pain. By using a global movement approach we can resolve the cause of your symptoms anywhere in your body; not just in the spine!
“He who treats the site of pain is lost” -Karel Lewit, M.D., DSc