It's hard to understand the benefits of chiropractic care if you don't understand how the human body works. The whole body is connected. It was designed to be able to heal itself from injury and infection. But the body can't heal itself if the connections between the brain and the organs and muscles--nerves--aren't functioning properly. That's where chiropractic comes in: it helps keep those connections working the way they were designed to.
From Brain to Organ and Back
The nerves in your body send messages between the brain and your organs and muscles. Nerves need a clear path to send a correct signal: to tell a muscle to move, to tell organs to do their job, basically to keep your body running properly.
All nerves go back to the spinal cord and travel up to the brain from there. The spinal cord is protected by the spine: vertebrae (the bones of the spine) and inter-vertebral disks. If the vertebrae and disks are not lined up correctly (out of alignment), the nerves can become pinched, thus sending a faulty signal to the brain and/or the organ or muscle to which the nerve leads.
Below is an image illustrating this. This is a side view of the spine. You can see the herniated disk (red and "inflamed"), above the vertebra that is out of alignment. Between the two is the pinched nerve. Compare this to the normal disks and properly aligned vertebrae above and below, and the nerves which are free and not pinched.
Why Chiropractic Makes Sense
Many people visit a medical doctor for health problems such as headaches, digestive issues, allergies, and other ailments. These health issues can be caused not by something wrong with the organs of the body, but by incorrect signals between those organs and the brain resulting from pinched nerves in the spine.
This is how chiropractic care helps keep the whole body healthy. It keeps the nerves functioning the way they were designed to, so the rest of the body works the way it's supposed to.
A medical doctor doesn't always consider a pinched nerve to be a possible cause for health issues. Instead, they prescribe drugs to fix the problem, when those drugs may only mask the problem.
Consider as an example the problem of chronic constipation: a relatively minor problem, but frustrating and painful nonetheless. A doctor might prescribe a laxative to be taken daily, which can have other less-than-desirable side effects. A chiropractor will look for misaligned vertebrae in the area of the spine where the nerves are which lead to the intestine. (This is why x-rays are necessary in chiropractic care, so the doctor and patient can see where the problem areas are in the spine.) The chiropractor will also discuss nutrition with the patient in the example given, since a less-than-healthy diet might also be an underlying cause of constipation. Good nutrition and chiropractic care go hand-in-hand: but that's a topic for another article!
The Importance of Continued Care
A few adjustments may be enough to heal the spine to the point where the nerves and organs are functioning normally once again. But most people have habits and lifestyles that cause their spine to get misaligned on a regular basis. Injury, poor posture or already worn-down inter-vertebral disks make regular adjustments a necessity to keep the body functioning optimally.
Poor posture is something that can be remedied, simply by changing one's habits. (This will be discussed in greater detail in a future article!) But many people have disks that have been worn down over time, and those disks will never "grow back" to their original healthy state.
When a spine is affected by scoliosis, a condition many people have to some degree or another, the spine is bent or twisted. The disks of the spine with scoliosis are worn down where the spine is unnaturally curved. Several adjustments will help the spine get back in place where it should be. But because those disks are already worn, the vertebrae will slip back into the twisted or curved position. Thus to keep the nerves free and not pinched, regular adjustments are absolutely necessary.
No drugs will keep the spine aligned properly. No drugs can solve the problem of a pinched nerve. Drugs can help with many things, this is true, but if the cause of a problem is a pinched nerve, drugs will only cover the symptoms, not heal the actual problem.
This is why chiropractic makes sense!