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If your spine is out of whack, your health is going to suffer. The nervous system is so intimately physically associated with the vertebral column that problems in the spine are always reflected in the activity of the nervous system. So problems in the spine will cause problems in the organ systems. Therefore chiropractic has a value not only in back pain and headaches, but often can be helpful in, for example, asthma, dysmenorrhoea, indeed, with almost any problem.

Often the most direct way of dealing with vertebral fixations or malalignments is spinal manipulation as practised by chiropractors and osteopaths. Of course, the underlying cause of the problem may still need to be addressed through diet, posture, usage, but the immediate problem and symptoms can often be miraculously relieved by a chiropractic adjustment. While many of the problems addressed by chiropractic can also be approached in other ways, for example, CranioSacral Therapy, Alexander Technique, these more subtle approaches usually involve  more time and expense. Chiropractic is no substitute for selfcare such as exercise, but it is often a very valuable adjunct to our other activities.

There are many of different schools of chiropractic. You therefore may have to shop to find the practitioner who suits you. Things to bare in mind while shopping: effective chiropractic works by mobilising those vertebral joints that are relatively immobilised. To be of any great and lasting benefit these mobilizations must be specific. There are practitioners out there who give everybody a very general mobilization. The problem with this is that immobile joints tend to promote hypermobility in surrounding joints. These hypermobile joints both jam up and release very easily, so the general mobilization tends to adjust the joints that are already hypermobile. This may offer a momentary relief, but does not address the real problem.

Many Canadian chiropractors employ a technique called "Diversified" in which the neck and the low back are adjusted by rotation. While there is a place for rotational adjustments (where the immobility is very specifically in rotation), I am not a fan of their general use. I practice what I think is a very wonderful school of chiropractic called the Gonstead Technique. Dr. Gonstead observed that when a vertebra goes out of alignment it almost always slipped backwards, posteriorly, off its discs. He therefore devised techniques for adjust from posterior to anterior, nudging the vertebra forward back into place. This method of adjusting, nudging the vertebra forward, avoids the gross rotation of the neck, or back. I believe it is a more comfortable, effective and the safest way of adjusting the spine. There are, however, many fine techniques and wonderful chiropractic healers.

Because chiropractic treatment in itself can be delivered quite quickly, and because the provincial insurance plan makes such a small contribution towards chiropractic treatment, many chiropractors try to see as many patients in an hour as possible. This in itself need not be a problem as long as the chiropractor addresses the immobile spinal segments gently but effectively. That means specifically. Unfortunately sometimes the tendency to speed up the treatments leads some practitioners to give everybody the same generalised mobilisation. If you feel that you are getting the same treatment each time you visit your chiropractor, and suspect that everyone else is getting the identical treatment too, you might explore other practitioners. As in all matters of health you need to become informed about your options. The bottom line is, as always, that you need to become your own authority, and you need to hone and trust your intuition.

For me, chiropractic is one of the great alternative medical therapies, and I urge you all to try it, both to help clear up any health problems you may have, and to prevent problems from arising.

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