Fun fact: Did you know that there are over 200 different chiropractic techniques or “schools” that have branched off since the founding of chiropractic? Each one has differences on how chiropractors approach the health of their patients.
At Palmer College of Chiropractic — where Dr. Stout and I both studied — we were exposed to a few techniques which we still practice today, sometimes called the “Palmer Package.” I practice using the Gonstead system of adjusting and analysis. Dr. Stout uses a CBP or “Chiropractic Biophysics” system of analysis and a mixture of diversified, Thompson, and Gonstead adjustments. We both also work on extremities in the office. Today, I want to explain briefly some of the ways in which these techniques differ and how we practice in the office.
This is the category that Gonstead (and similar techniques) fall under. In this frame, practitioners find a couple of specific joints that are dysfunctional and focus on those joints to give adjustments. Upper cervical techniques usually focus on the first two vertebrae, C1 and C2. With the Gonstead technique, we may only adjust one to three joints per visit (minus extremities if needed), but we look to the full body for dysfunction. Segmental techniques don’t ignore posture/structural changes in the spine, though. These can change contact points for adjustments and in some cases even change which joint will be most efficient to adjust. In theory, if the specific problematic joint is fixed, the body will de-compensate in other problem areas on its own. After that, it’s time to fix muscular issues and posture to stay out of trouble in the future.
The next category is postural. Postural techniques usually focus solely on bringing someone’s posture and global curvatures back towards normal through adjustments, traction, and different exercises. In some cases, the adjustments aren’t always focused on one specific joint, but instead focus on moving multiple joints on a curve. Postural techniques don’t necessarily ignore functional changes either. Dr. Stout does postural checks on his patients to assess the areas to focus on and then uses motion palpation to find specific joints that need to be adjusted in that area and to help reduce the postural abnormality.
Side note: You might notice that a lot of these ideas make techniques similar if one stops to look at the big picture. What usually differs are the priorities one deems most important.
Some techniques put a lot of emphasis on their analysis and how they determine what to adjust, when to adjust it, and how to adjust it most effectively. Some of the most common ways to analyze include temperature differentials using different tools, x-ray views, palpation (touch), and visualization. Most chiropractors use motion palpation (touch) and visualization at the very least to determine what to adjust on a day-to-day basis. In our office, we both use x-ray analysis, palpation, and visualization. I also check for a temperature difference from segment to segment using an instrument called the Nervoscope which is used solely in Gonstead analysis.
Most techniques and chiropractors you visit use their hands to adjust. The word Chiropractic comes from the Greek words “cheir” and “praktikos” which mean “done by hand.” A lot of the manual techniques have similar set ups that have been passed down and perfected since the founding of chiropractic. Some chiropractors have to change how they adjust based on skill, hand size, personal preference, patient preference, history of injuries sustained by the practitioner, etc. There can be many variances even within the same technique or system of adjusting.
Finally, there are a category of techniques that utilize instruments to make adjustments rather than hands. There are many reasons why a practitioner would choose to use an instrument to adjust, but the biggest benefit is consistency — an instrument can always deliver the same amount of force (which is minimal) to a patient who may need a more delicate procedure. Some common instruments used to adjust are the activator, integrator, and the new pro-adjuster machine.
Side note: some instrument techniques also have their own form of analysis. This can affect what is adjusted with the instrument as opposed to manual techniques.
At the end of the day, the majority of chiropractors have the same end goals: get the patient well and use a consistent protocol to decide what is best for the patient clinically on each visit. Not every chiropractor is the same. Just like any profession, each professional has his own style and priorities. Multiple schools of thought can potentially get to the same end point.
This is another reason why it is important to be consistent with your appointments. It is also important to work with the same doc to be consistent in your care. We all know what it’s like to have doctors who aren’t working together and communicating on your case.
Here at Stout Chiropractic, we work together to find out what has worked for you in the past, but we also like to use different analyses and techniques to see what else can help. Come in to get checked if it has been awhile!
“How many visits will this take?” This is a very fair question to ask, and one of the most common questions or concerns we get from patients. While you should at least be able to feel a difference after a few visits—or sometimes right away—most problems took a long time to develop and will also take time to heal. Just like a marriage or career, the most rewarding things take time and effort. Your health is no exception.
There are several issues that can send your spinal health in the wrong direction, but there is hope for every situation! Here are a few thoughts on how we approach the road to recovery.
Have you ever heard of creep? In chiropractic terms, creep is the slow stretching and weakening of ligaments that can occur over time, which usually leads to chronic pain. This is another reason why pain relief doesn’t occur right away with chiropractic adjustments. Not only do your vertebra need to be adjusted closer to their necessary position, but the ligaments have to hold that vertebra in position too.
The areas that we focus on and adjust usually have spinal ligament damage by the time a typical patient comes in, and we can’t reverse that all at once. We have to make sure that we put that vertebra in place and give the body time to heal those ligaments. Unfortunately, these ligaments usually won’t ever completely heal back to 100% tensile strength.
If you feel pain, there is a very good chance that there is inflammation in that area. Inflammation is a natural process that is very necessary in the beginning—or acute—stages of an injury. If something in the injury isn’t corrected, such as joint position, faulty movement patterns, etc., inflammation tends to linger and can cause tissue damage. This damage can then lead to scar tissue that makes things even more complicated to heal quickly.
Here’s a good metaphor I like to tell patients to illustrate this concept. If you dropped a massive boulder on your foot it would hurt pretty badly, correct? If someone took that boulder off of your foot would the pain go away with the boulder? Of course not. But now that the boulder is gone, you can start healing.
Sometimes gradual improvement can be frustrating when you want instantaneous relief, but be patient and stay the course! It might be a little harder to take time out of your schedule to come in multiple times, but what is more important than your health? Invest in yourself now, and over time it will pay off! Yes, it takes money, time, and effort to keep good health now, but it costs even more to make up for lost time once it is failing.
Come in to get checked if it has been a while. We love to see you (period!), but love it more when you are smiling and skipping to us instead and frowning and crawling in.
With love always,
It is winter, and those who come to see me at Stout Chiropractic clinic know that I am not all too enthusiastic about the cold, ice, or snow. I’m not a total Grinch though, I promise! I think the snow is beautiful—from my cozy view indoors—and I love all of the lights. I love family coming together to enjoy food and drinks and share gifts. If you can bear the cold, winter can be the most wonderful time of the year!
Winter, however, has its own unique stresses that can ruin anyone’s spirits and put metaphorical coal in your stockings. Here are 5 safe winter practices for your body and mind.
Protect your back and whole body with safe practices on wintry surfaces. If you have any suspicion that the ground is icy: TAKE SMALL, SHORT STRIDES. Even if you’re late, it’s better to take it slow and steady than risk a bad fall.
Ice under snow is a particular risk, because your feet can slip out from under you with no warning. People usually take longer strides in deeper snow, and they expect the ground to have more traction underneath the snow.
Also, be sure to wear winter appropriate shoes that are heavier and have sufficient traction on the bottoms. This is not an alternative to short steps though. Heavier boots with good traction will reduce your chances of falling. Be sure to do both for a successfully safe winter.
Remember that mental health is a core part of full-body well being. The holidays are meant to be a time to reflect on giving and cherishing moments with your loved ones. This is a beautiful thing, but it can also lead to unnecessary added stress and anxiety. If you were out during black Friday at some of the big box stores, you wouldn’t know that this is a time for giving and being kind to others. Even if people are simply seeking the best gifts at the cheapest prices for their loved ones, is it really worth enduring all the stress?
I think that giving is all about the thought, and it should itself be an enjoyable experience. That may mean going with a friend, alone, or early morning/late at night when fewer customers are around. Think ahead and make the necessary plans.
Don’t forget that diet (what you put into your body) is an important part of your health. Eggnog, hot apple cider, gingerbread cookies, fruit cakes, iced sugar cookies, candied yams, candied ham, etc. I think you get the picture. Holiday foods are FULL of sugar. Excess sugar is one of the worse things for your overall health. It has been linked to depression, cancer, and tumor progression and growth, heart disease, and of course, weight gain.
Cutting out sugar can do wonders for your mental and physical health. And even if you can’t cut out sugar entirely, that’s no reason to throw in the towel! Simply be aware and make conscious decisions about when and what you choose to indulge. Moderation is key.
While you should always practice safe driving, the snow brings a whole new level of instability to your travels. This makes it even more vital to make sure everyone you are riding with is buckled up and fastened in safely. This is also not the time to realize your brakes and/or tires need to be changed. Take care of those if you have not done so already.
Also, with New Year’s Eve just around the corner, please do not drink and drive! Know your limit and don’t even get close to it if you have to drive. Ride with someone who plans on not drinking or call a cab, Lyft, or Uber. There are too many options rather than take that chance. A DUI, injury, or death will surely put you out of the holiday spirit.
Last note on driving, it is a good idea to keep a thick blanket in your car if you are taking a long road trip in the winter and/or snowstorm. If you are stranded for whatever reason and your car won’t start, the blanket could keep you warm enough a little longer before help arrives.
With snow comes shoveling, and believe it or not, shoveling snow is a moderately intense work-out! Consider the following tips to protect your back, muscles, and joints while shoveling snow properly:
At the end of the day, this season is supposed to be a time for taking it easy, loving your family, and reflecting back on all of the prior year’s accomplishments and memories. If you keep these tips in mind over this holiday season, you will be welcoming 2019 in good spirits and health!
If, despite your best efforts, you still end up with tension or back pain, we are here for you! We’re happy to help get you adjusted and better able to adapt to these physically and mentally stressful times. Be safe and happy holidays from all of us at Stout Chiropractic!