Ask The Doctor

by Dr. Brittney McGetrick, DC, RD
Evergreen Chiropractic

What conditions do most chiropractors treat?

Technically the only condition that chiropractors treat is “subluxation” which is a fancy word for misalignment in the spine. Chiropractic care can help your entire body operate more efficiently because your nervous system is actually inside your spine. Everything that happens in your body is due to the nervous system. If your nervous system is not operating at its highest potential, that is when sickness and/or pain start to creep in. It is for that reason that chiropractors can help with multiple conditions outside of the general “spine care” like bed wetting, digestive issues, and insomnia. Chiropractic care can also boost the immune system and help your body with hormonal balance in addition to the more commonly known back and neck pain that chiropractors are better known for helping people with for many years.

What are common chiropractic techniques?

The most common chiropractic technique is called diversified. That is what most chiropractic schools are teaching now. In order to learn additional techniques, students have to go to seminars and workshops on their own time outside of the normal school demands, something I enjoy doing routinely.

What is the Gonstead Technique and how is it different from other chiropractic techniques?

The most common chiropractic technique is called diversified. That is what most chiropractic schools are teaching now. In order to learn additional techniques, students have to go to seminars and workshops on their own time outside of the normal school demands, something I enjoy doing routinely.

What is the Gonstead Technique and how is it different from other chiropractic techniques?

The Gonstead technique is a very specialized technique in chiropractic and there are only about 500 doctors in the world that practice it exclusively. Evergreen Chiropractic is the only office in Nashville that specializes in Gonstead. It differs in the analysis and the adjustment of the spine. In the analysis, we use five different tools to determine where the subluxation, or misalignment, that is causing the problem is. The first is visualization: everything is done skin on skin (women put on gowns) so I can see any changes in the skin and muscle tone from visit to visit. The second is instrumentation. I use a tool called a nervoscope that detects heat changes in the spine, this points me to areas of inflammation, because whenever a bone misaligns, it becomes inflamed and swollen. The third and fourth are static and motion palpation which means I feel the bones in the spine both when the patient is seated and when I am moving him/her around to see which bones are not moving as well as they should. And the fifth tool is a full spine x-ray. I never guess when it comes to the spine and the nervous system, I analyze the x-ray biomechanically which tells me the most effective way to adjust each of the bones.

The Gonstead technique also differs from typical chiropractors in the way that we adjust the spine. When I adjust, I do so with as little rotation in the spine as possible. I would never lay someone down and twist their neck side to side just to give them a “popping” sensation. Rotational forces are damaging to the discs in the spine. For that reason, Gonstead is a great technique for people who are hesitant or scared of chiropractors. It is a gentle adjustment focused on correcting the exact problem and leaving the rest of the spine alone to heal.

How important is it for newborns and their mothers to see a chiropractor shortly after giving birth?

Even the most beautiful, straightforward birth can be traumatic on a newborn’s spine. Many studies have reported that 80-90% of newborns checked within the first few days of life had misalignments in their spine. Of course babies can’t tell us that they have back or neck pain, but what we see in well adjusted babies is their nervous systems are operating better, which means they are more comfortable, have less colic symptoms, better attention spans as they get older, and less ear infections. Basically they are able to grow and develop to their fullest potential with all systems firing.

If you think a birth is traumatic on the baby, it can definitely do the same to the mother! Many moms that I see report that post-partum healing happens much faster when they are under regular chiropractic care. And moms don’t have to wait until after they give birth. to see a chiropractor either. They can begin chiropractic care at any time during pregnancy to have a more comfortable pregnancy and birth. In fact, chiropractic care has also been known to reduce labor times for many women.

Why do some discs in our body degenerate and others do not? How do we help prevent this?

I love talking about this. We are not doomed to get arthritis just because we get older! Even if your dad had it or your dad’s dad had it! Arthritis (joint degeneration) happens because of misalignment. Our bodies fit together like a perfect puzzle. When a misalignment occurs, the puzzle is thrown off. As we go about our day to day activity, that joint is subject to wear and tear in an unusual way that it is not naturally built for. That is when joints begin to degenerate. If a person is under regular chiropractic care for most of their life, severe degeneration can ususally be avoided. And if a person already has some degeneration, restoring proper biomechanics (i.e. getting adjusted) can halt degeneration from progressing any further.

What is a nervoscope and how do you use it in your practice?

A nervoscope is a tool exclusive to the Gonstead technique. It is essentially a thermometer that detects heat changes along the spine. It is normal to have heat changes throughout the spine due to different levels of muscle mass, but when there is a dramatic change from one level to the next, that is indicative of inflammation. The nervoscope helps me focus in on the potential problem areas of the spine, so that I can be as specific as possible when determining what to adjust on each patient.

Do I only need to see a chiropractor if I have back pain?

Not at all! Because chiropractic deals with the nervous system, there isn’t a condition that exists that wouldn’t benefit from chiropractic care. A mentor of mine was once asked if she could help with a severely sick little boy, and her answer said it best. “I am not sure if I can help with that condition, but I do know this: that boy’s body will be better off without a subluxation than with one.”

Is chiropractic treatment ongoing?

Chiropractic treatment is ongoing the same way going to the dentist or getting the oil changed in your car is ongoing. Everyday we subject our bodies to minor, sometimes major, traumas that can cause misalignments in the spine. If we ignore the little aches and pains that are warning signs, eventually the body gets to the point where it can no longer adapt and you bend over to pick up a towel and throw your back out. If a person is getting checked regularly, those little misalignments can be corrected as they come up and they don’t ever have to get to the point of a major injury.

In my office, once a patient is on wellness maintenance care, I typically recommend they come in and get checked about once a month. And if a patient comes in and does not need to be adjusted, I will let them know and I will not adjust them. There is an art to knowing when and where the spine needs to be adjusted just as much as when not to adjust it.

Do chiropractors only treat spinal conditions?

Nope! Anywhere there is a joint in the body, it can be adjusted! I have gone to a number of seminars and training to learn how to adjust extremities such as your shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees, and ankles is something I treat as well. Often times, certain conditions of the extremities stem from the spine and can be improved solely from spinal adjustments. But I can also adjust the extremities themselves and help with conditions such as tennis elbow, carpal tunnel, and plantar faciitis to name a few. So come in and see me!

NFM Staff
Author: NFM Staff

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