Back Alignment

Thursday, November 8th, 2018

Have you ever heard the term back alignment used when talking about visiting a chiropractor?

What does the term mean exactly?

It could mean that there are a bunch of bones stacked up like a Jenga game and that the chiropractor lines them all up perfectly straight so that everything works perfectly. If that is your picture of what back alignment means, then keep reading.

On the other hand, it could be an outdated term to describe how chiropractors once used (and some still do) to market their practices. This discussion gets into a little of a difference in some chiropractors but it’s an important distinction and an important discussion to have from time to time.

Some chiropractors have a more philosophical way of practicing that dates back to the turn of the century and the early 1900’s and to the “founders” of the chiropractic profession. Others chiropractors prefer to refer to themselves as evidence-based chiropractors due to the fact that they are using research papers, protocols, and guidelines to steer their way of practicing.

Here at Creek Stone Integrated Care, our doctors are evidence-based. In fact, Dr. Jeff Williams hosts a weekly podcast called the Chiropractic Forward Podcast discussing relevant research papers that are coming out literally every month.

“Back alignment” is a term commonly used by the more philosophical chiropractors in the profession. “Back alignment” is rooted in the word “subluxation.” Subluxation is the term vitalistic, philosophical chiropractors use as a reason many maladies throughout the body. However, if you look up the word in a medical dictionary, it will basically mean something less than a dislocation. For instance, when an orthopedic surgeon uses the term, they mean to describe a near dislocation that injured the joint but did not in fact fully dislocate.

Essentially, the more philosophical chiropractors say a subluxation is a bone that is out of place in the spine and this malposition puts undue pressure on the nerves exiting in that region. In addition, once the bone is repositioned by a chiropractor, the nerves will be able to function better thus the body functions better overall. Basically, if the back is aligned, everything works better.

The more evidence-based chiropractors reason that profession learn more and more as the years go by. As new techniques emerge, more research is realized leading to new studies and new techniques and on and on. The profession improves in effectiveness as the techniques and knowledge base expands and will then continually improve through the years.

This has happened with the chiropractic profession just like it has happened with the medical field. The medical doctors used to make a common practice of drilling holes in people’s heads, bloodletting, and leeches. Ugh.

Just like our medical counterparts, chiropractors now know so much more than the “founders” of the profession knew back in the early 1900’s.

While we have mountains of research for chiropractic care’s effectiveness in treating neck pain, back pain, headaches, and joint pain, there is no good evidence so far that supports using the term “back alignment” in the year 2018.

Of course, if you ask a vitalistic, unorthodox, and philosophical chiropractor, you will get a vastly different opinion. But, if we are paying attention to research, the literature suggests the vitalistic, philosophical chiropractors only make up approximately 20% of the profession.

The vast majority of doctors in this great profession follow more current research and guidelines and run their practices accordingly.

The more important concept to understand when it comes to going to a chiropractor, rather than “back alignment,” is that chiropractors primarily treat joint dysfunction. The technical term in the research literature is spinal manipulative therapy. One can find mountains of support in the literature for chiropractors treating joint dysfunction and movement dysfunctions.

When a person is moving better, everything is working better.

Think about it this way: spinal pain is primarily related to movement dysfunction and it makes perfect sense that movement disorders respond better to movement-related treatments (chiropractic, exercise/rehab, yoga, etc.) rather than chemical treatments such as pain pills, anti-inflammatories, injections, etc..

It is my hope that we can move beyond the term “back alignment” or coming in to get your back aligned. Instead, it is my hope that visits to the chiropractor are framed more and more in terms of correcting movement disorders or movement dysfunctions.

Call us at 355-3000 and let us help here at Creek Stone where we are uniquely equipped to give you solid, responsible recommendations and treat you with current technology focused on your complaint.

Creek Stone Integrated Care
Jeff Williams, DC