A chiropractor is a health care practitioner specializing in the diagnosis, therapy, and management of neuromuscular disorders.
The word neuromuscular is a combination of two words; neuro as a prefix pertains to the nerves and muscular refers to the muscles. These two systems work together to allow movement, and this collaboration of nerves and muscles is known as the neuromuscular system.
Neuromuscular disorders can be classified as:
- neuropathies (abnormal activities of the peripheral nervous system)
- motor neuron diseases (those affecting talking, walking, speaking, swallowing and a body’s general movement)
- muscular dystrophies (hereditary, continuous muscle weakening) and
- neuromuscular junction disorders (malfunctioning of joints which may cause paralysis in severe cases).
Some causes can be:
- inherited disorders
- autoimmune disorders
- hormonal disorders
- genetic mutations
- viral infections
- metabolic disorders
- dietary deficiencies
- and reactions to certain drugs and poisons.
Chiropractic Treatment for Neuromuscular Disorders
Chiropractors use their hands to manually adjust and manipulate the spine, realigning it when it is damaged. This management done by chiropractors is called chiropractic treatment and is categorized as both alternative and complementary medicine. Ultrasound, hot or cold compress, and relaxation therapy are some of the alternative therapies used.
These methods are used so restore mobility of injury-affected joints and muscles, helping them to function properly again. This is also good to relieve repetitive stress and help alleviate pain. Studies have proven that chiropractic treatment is a common non-surgical treatment for such body pains.
Sometimes, a car accident or other trauma can cause lasting damage to the spine. This is called Whiplash. There are many symptoms of whiplash.
- One symptom is called joint dysfunction, wherein one of the joints in limbs or spine of the victim may lose its normal resilience and shock absorption. This could lead to restricted movement and pains.
- Another symptom is disc herniation wherein a victim can feel sharp and shooting pains along his arm, with numbness and tingling sensation and weakness of the muscles. The accident may have injured the disc between the spinal column which might have led to the inner core protruding through the outer core. This causes the disc herniation.
- A third symptom is contradictory movement patterns. When the victim feels the onslaught of intense pain, it is believed that is due to wrong interpretation of movement signals from the nervous system.
- Yet another symptom is chronic pain. When the expected healing of strains and minor muscle sprains seems to be far from happening and symptoms such as neck pain still persist, it is an indication of a whiplash.
- Mental dysfunction is the final symptom. The victim seems to be having mental difficulties such as in concentration, memory loss or recognition problems.
Chiropractic approaches for whiplash
- Manipulation: This is for joint dysfunction. The chiropractor performs spinal manipulation by gently moving the affected joint to the restricted direction.
- Muscle relaxation or stimulation: This is used as a therapy for muscle dysfunction. It is done by gently stretching the muscle that has too much tension and/or repeated contraction.
- Various exercises: Types of exercises can be employed by chiropractors to treat and manage whiplash injury patient – the McKenzie exercises and sensorimotor activities. McKenzie exercises are purposefully designed to reduce unbalanced disc on whiplash injury patients. With this approach, the patient learns to play active role in his own recovery. With its simple movements being taught in the clinic, the patient can continue his own treatment at home upon his chiropractor’s discretion. Sensorimotor exercises are designed to correct and stabilize erratic movement patterns experienced by the patient. These exercises train the nervous system to send movement signals for better coordination and control of movement patterns and improve and maintain neck stability. These two types of exercise both aim to help recovering from minor or major trauma. Minor trauma can include minor accidents such as being hurt in a game or other physical activities.
Ergonomic and lifestyle changes. These are the programs or “laws” that must be followed by the patient for faster recovery. It must be done on a daily basis and be a daily routine. It can affect the patient’s work, home and recreational activities just to follow these “laws”. Specialists at the chiropractic clinic may educate the patient on how to reduce stress and eventually lead to healing of whiplash.