Pain results when pain receptors in body tissues are stimulated because of damage to the cells. The receptors respond to temperature changes, vibration, stretching, and chemicals that are released from the damaged cells. The receptors send messages through the nerves to the brain, which interprets the messages as pain. Infections, inflammation, oxygen starvation, nerve damage, and trauma can all cause pain.
Pain can be acute -- as when the patient suffers a cut or fall -- or chronic, as with lower back pain. Pain can be perceived in a variety of different ways and descriptors include stabbing, burning, throbbing or aching, as well as many other terms. Musculoskeletal pain is very common, especially among athletes and the elderly, and can include joint pain, back pain, and muscle pain. Chiropractic is often effective in relieving musculoskeletal pain.
The chiropractic system holds that body structure -- especially the spine -- affects function and health in the entire body. When the spine is out of alignment, other body structures like muscles can become tight and go into spasm. The patient typically compensates for the pain by changing posture or body movement, which can make the problem worse and affect the entire body. The focus of chiropractic is to correct alignment problems, which can relieve pain, improve function, and allow the body to heal.
Spinal manipulation for low back pain is one of the most common chiropractic treatments. In addition, other areas of the spine, including the neck, sacrum, and coccyx (tailbone) may respond to chiropractic. However, chiropractors may work on any area of the musculoskeletal system, such as the shoulders, knees, ankles, and feet. In addition to manipulation, chiropractors use ultrasound and laser therapy, nutritional consultation, ergonomic training (how to sit, stand, and move correctly), posture, and exercise education.
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