How Does Chiropractic Care Work?

You may have heard stories about how someone’s anxiety, or allergies, or heartburn, or chronic muscle tension, or migraines, or vertigo, or “fill-in-the-blank” got better after a chiropractic adjustment and wondered “How is that possible?”. Afterall, a chiropractor is just popping a joint in your spine to relieve a tight muscle or unpinch a nerve, right? Not exactly…


Chiropractic care works by improving central nervous system function, not by “un-pinching” nerves or “unkinking” necks.

The human body is a complex living machine made up of individual cells, tissues, organs, muscles, bones, and several different sub-systems (digestive system, cardiovascular system, etc) and all of it is controlled and coordinated by the nervous system.


Occasionally a patient may describe the feeling of a chiropractic adjustment as a nerve getting un-pinched, or a kink getting straightened out, but both are untrue. The adjustment, when done in the correct spot, improves the neurological communication between the brain and body – that’s it, but that’s enough. By improving neurological communication between the brain and body the nervous system will, all by itself, change muscle tension patterns, organ function, and sub-system function so the body works better and the patient feels better.  


Here’s how it works:


Your nervous system is divided into two parts – central and peripheral. Your central nervous system is where all the important decisions about your body’s function are made and then the neurological messages are “delivered” to the parts of the body that needs them via the peripheral nervous system. Your nervous system is working 24-7-365 and neurological messages are being sent back and forth between the body to the brain to the tune of trillions every second. The system is both simple and infinitely complex at the same time.


The neurological messages going back and forth between the brain and body are divided into two categories: messages going from the brain down to the body are called efferent messages, while messages going from the body to the brain are called afferent messages. Most of the neurological traffic, about 90%, are afferent messages – neurological bits in information going from the body up to the brain. The sources of the afferent messages are not equally spread around the body – most of them come up from the spine, especially the upper part of the spine often referred to as C1 and C2, or atlas and axis.


The central nervous system is like a blind CEO – decisions on how to control the company are based on the information being reported to the CEO, but the CEO can’t actually see what’s happening. Since one of the largest sources of information about what’s happening in the body come from the joints in the upper cervical (upper neck) area – especially the atlas, or C1, and axis, or C2 – having a problem in that area can wreak havoc on one’s health. And getting that area adjusted properly can have a huge positive impact on the function of the entire body.


Here’s a neurological flow chart of how the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system work together to control and coordinate the function of the body.

It’s by improving the neurological communication between the brain and body (think… CEO and the rest of the company) that makes chiropractic care so effective when it comes to reducing and resolving chronic health problems.

Check out the rest of our blogs about chiropractic care.

If you have any questions, we’d love to answer them! Give us a call at 530-893-1446.

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