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Functional Medicine

From its beginnings, chiropractic has recognized the need to treat the whole person. The chiropractic triad of health has always included the mechanical (exercise, restoring the normal motion between the vertebrae and injury), the chemical (nutrition, hormonal balance and removing toxins) and the mental state (attitude, emotion and stress). Each of these aspects of health affects the others. The goal is to remove the negative components of each of these three aspects of health and restore the positive.

Chiropractic care is a well established method for reducing pain. The old explanation of a vertebra pinching a nerve is not only outdated, but, inaccurate. It is much more complex than that. Before that can be explained, just a hint of the complexity of your nervous system is needed.

Just think about standing still. Your feet are just a small part of your body and you have to balance everything above your feet and most of your weight on them. Try standing a pen on its tip to see how difficult that is. Oh, did I mention your ankles allow you to sway in every direction?

There is a portion of your brain that controls the muscle contractions not only to help you stand erect, but, coordinates all muscle contractions that allow you to move. It gets its input from nerves that sense the position of your joints and the tension on your muscles, tendons and ligaments, as well as, other mechanical input from the body.

Signals from the portion of the brain that controls the muscle contractions and the signals from all of the nerves that sense mechanical data travel to a different part of the brain that is involved in the decision to move. When you make a decision to move, signals go from the part of the brain that is involved in the decision to move, along nerves to the muscles and also to the portion of the brain that controls the muscle contractions.

Anytime you move a part of your body, you have to take actions to stop the motion and counteract the change in balance the movement creates. You also have to make sure your spine provides stability to carry out the movement. We have all seen a speaker at a podium adjust a microphone only to have the microphone drop down from where the speaker placed it. It is friction somewhere in the microphone stand that keeps the microphone in place. In the spine, there are small but powerful muscles between each of the vertebrae that contract to keep the spine in position so that you don’t fold in half anytime you reach your arms out.

It is the inappropriate constant contraction of these small muscles that keep the vertebrae in your spine from moving freely, causing pain and creating the need for chiropractic care.

Every nerve cell in your body is constantly firing, including the pain nerves. The reason you do not constantly feel pain is because the nerves that pick up mechanical sensations such as pressure, vibration and the position and movement of your joints send signals that block the signals from the pain nerves just before they reach the spinal cord. When a chiropractor treats your back, the goal is to get the vertebrae in your spine that are not moving to move freely again. That lack of motion in your spine also decreases the signals from your joints that should be blocking the pain signals. The chiropractic adjustment restores normal movement between the vertebrae and increases the signals from your joints that will block pain. The signals from the mechanical nerves coming from the joints are also sending signals to the area of the brain that controls the muscle contractions and to the area of the brain that is involved in the decision to move. The chiropractic adjustment helps restore the balance between these two areas.

There are a number of reasons why these small muscles in the spine contract inappropriately. Among the reasons are injury and pain. If you were to put your hand on a hot stove, you would pull it away even before you felt the pain. One set of muscles would contract to pull your arm away while the opposing set of muscles would have to relax. The small muscles between your vertebrae would also contract in certain areas to maintain your position and balance. After a short time, the pain reduces and everything returns to neutral. But if an injury does not completely heal, that withdrawal reflex does not completely release. Nor does the contraction of those small muscles.

Uneven pressure on the body can have the same effect. Something as simple as sitting in a bucket seat pushes the long bone in your thighs (femur) out of their normal position in your pelvis. The effect is not likely to be seen on an X-ray, but, that pressure changes the mechanical sensations coming from the large joint between your femurs and pelvis. That forces your body to compensate. And in the process, the small muscles between the vertebrae contract inappropriately. Since this pressure is repeated frequently, the brain gets used to it and does not go back to normal. It is due to your brain adapting to prolonged abnormal mechanical input that typically requires more than one chiropractic treatment. It takes repeated treatments to teach your brain to rebalance itself.

The typical American diet with all of its sugar and starch over works the pancreas to produce insulin. The pancreas sends signals to the brain that it is stressed. The signals travel up nerves to the brain. Along the way, they also stimulate pain nerves that come from other parts of the body. The classic case is the man that has pain in his left arm during a heart attack. This happens with every organ and gland in the body. That pain stimulus, whether you feel it or not, triggers a withdrawal response and contraction of those small muscles between the spine. Prolonged abnormal signals from an organ or gland will create imbalances in the brain, too. This is where the correcting of nutritional deficiencies and nutritional advice I provide can also have an impact on rebalancing the brain.

Of course, your outlook on life, your emotional state and stress will also affect the balance in your brain. We have all been under excessive stress during this COVID pandemic. Prolonged stress has a negative effect on every part of your body.

Just like exercising to strengthen and balance muscles, providing input into the brain will exercise the areas of the brain that are weakened by prolonged abnormal signals being received.

To address the mental state, I use BrainTap, a meditation device from BrainTap Technologies that uses light and sound therapy to get you out of that fight-or-flight, highly stressed mode that is part and parcel of our daily lives, and into a state of relaxation where positive changes occur.

The BrainTap headset provides auditory and visual input designed to calm the nervous system. The patterns of lights and sounds synchronize to guide you from a wide-awake state into a meditative state so you can achieve your desired outcome. There is also an option for using just the auditory input that can be played through an app on your phone.

BrainTap offers over 50 different series such as sleep, anxiety, PTSD, autism, goal setting, weight wellness, addiction and so much more. It takes a passive and personal approach so it easily fits into your existing healthcare goals. Your body and mind synchronize with the ideas and concepts, and bring to pass the positive results you want in your life.

Best of all, you can get a free 15 day trial of the BrainTap app that you can download to your phone. Since this will produce a very relaxed state, do not use it while driving! Your credit card information will not be collected for the free trial. Click on the banner below to try it for free.

The statements in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information provided is not a substitute for medical counseling. The information provided is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.