Vitalism and the Treatment of Low Back and Neck Pain
When patients come to me for treatment of neck or low back pain, they are choosing natural treatment, or vitalism, over chemical or surgical treatment. Vitalism, as you may have surmised, since it contains the word vital, refers to the fact that the body inherently wants to heal itself, and it would do so were not some sort of impediment standing in its way. As a chiropractor treating pain in the back or neck, or anywhere else in the body, my first step is to remove that impediment. The first thing I look for is a subluxation,or misaligned vertebrae occurring somewhere along the spinal column. When aligned, the vertebrae protect the nerves running through it. But when misaligned or subluxated, they rest on the nerves and cause nerve pain. Chiropractic treatment restores a misaligned vertebra to its rightful condition, relieving pressure on the spinal nerves, thus alleviating the pain.
Subluxations can be caused by traumas like car accidents, falls, repetitive movements or even prolonged periods sitting in positions that don't align with the spine, such as time spent at the computer. The type of pain depends on where along the spine the misalignment has occurred. If the patient is complaining of low back pain, I examine the lumbar spine which stretches from the top of the buttocks to the mid-back, or thoracic spine. If the complaint is neck pain, the first place I examine is the cervical spine which comprises the neck itself.
If I determine that subluxations are the cause of the pain, I will employ a treatment called torque release technique (TRT) in which I use an instrument called the integration which applies a series of very quick thrusts that serve to correct the misaligned vertebrae. Once returned to alignment I can focus on the spinal cord and allow the nerves to heal themselves, or in other words vitalize.
It should be noted, though, that subluxations are not always the cause of back pain and neck pain. Rheumatoid arthritis, a compression fracture, a herniated disc may also be at play. If my examination determines any of these are the case, I will treat them slightly differently but always noninvasively, and in a way that removes the problem that causes the pain so the spinal segment or joint can heal itself. In cases like these where TRT is not appropriate, I perform weekly or biweekly manual adjustments and prescribe daily stretching and core strengthening exercises to supplement treatment.