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Today”s interview comes to us from Dr. Abbie Ballard D.C. Dr. Ballard is a wife and mom to 1. She opened her own practice in Effingham, Illinois in November of 2012 where she focuses on family and wellness care. She is currently working toward her certification as a Pediatric Chiropractor. She is also the area representative for the Foundation for Wellness Education.
As a chiropractor, what is your job? (Basic description)
-Chiropractors are traditionally thought of as being back and neck pain doctors, but this is a really limited view of what we do. Chiropractors only care about the spine because it houses the NERVOUS SYSTEM. That is our true focus! Our nervous system is our master control system. It literally coordinates EVERY life process and controls EVERY cell.
We rely on the brain to be able to communicate and send energy through the spine and nerves to make sure the body is functioning at 100%. Where there is improper motion of the spine (called subluxations) due to environmental, physical, chemical, and emotional stress, the body becomes imbalanced and the energy becomes disrupted. Simply put the messages are muffled.
Subluxations are the only thing we treat….but because subluxations indicate that energy isn”t making it from the body to the brain, the symptoms of subluxation are broad and far reaching, just like the nervous system. Basically, subluxation = energy/communication breakdown = decreasing function = eventual disease.
To correct subluxations chiropractors use either their hands, or an instrument to perform a quick, thrust. This thrust physically moves the joints to restore proper motion. There are plenty of examples of adjustments on youtube…just know that the sounds you hear means nothing and if it bothers you, there are plenty of techniques (such as Activator or Pro-Adjustor or Thompson) that generally do not produce the “pop” sound. If you don”t think you want your neck “twisted,” again, there are techniques that don”t require that position. Most chiropractors practice multiple techniques daily (I practice 6, was trained in 11), so simply ask.
What should you look for when choosing a chiropractor? How can you be sure you’re getting someone competent?
-The vast majority of chiropractors are technically competent, which means, they can perform the adjustment. What I would look for is congruency in their beliefs system. If you are looking for a wellness chiropractor, don”t go to a “pain and rehab” office. If you are looking for a pediatric chiropractor, look for the doctor that actually has a kids area in their office, that talks about children and family care, and discusses children”s health issues on their website or facebook page. As I mentioned, chiropractors only treat one condition, subluxation. Look for a chiropractor that talks about what they do and how they do it. I would also look for a chiropractor that has patient education classes so you know what to expect along the way, and one that is direct and up front about their fees. Avoid doctors that don”t give direct answers or guarantee results. Remember, there are good chiropractors and bad chiropractors, if for any reason you are uncomfortable, move on! Chiropractic care is for everyone, but not every chiropractor is right for you!
All chiropractors undergo stringent training. All chiropractors should be licensed within the state they are practicing in, and be board certified. Some do additional training (certifications or diplomate programs) to specialize, similar to our medical counterparts. There are diplomates in rehabilitation, pediatrics, radiology, neurology, etc. If you need a specialist, a quick google search can usually find the association they are certified through, and lead you to a membership directory.
How are chiropractic and alternative health linked?
-Chiropractors believe in treatment of the spine to allow full expression of the nervous system. We believe if the energy is running full and strong from the brain to the body and vice versa, the body can AND WILL heal itself. We believe true health comes from the inside out, and that most diseases can be treated and prevented without the need for medications (of course there are always emergency situations, but GERD for example, is not an emergency). We do not prescribe medication, and generally look at surgery as a last option for a patient.
We sometimes will suggest herbs or vitamins to help support the body in its healing, but we try only to enhance the body, NOT stop or otherwise disrupt body processes.
How does chiropractic care help with things like ear infections, sleeping problems, or bed wetting? How are things like that linked?
-The body is a self-healing organism. As I mentioned, when the brain and the body are expressing energy at 100%, full communication, then a person will be healthy. Disruptions in that energy cause issues.
If the little bones in the neck are not moving properly (AKA subluxation) oh, say from the birthing process, then the brain can”t maintain proper tone of the musculature in the upper neck. The stapedius muscle controls pressure with in the ear. Decreased ability to control the muscle causes decreased ability to control pressure and the ears don”t drain properly. Before you know it, infection sets in. Correct the subluxation and the body will fix the problem.
The nerves that control the bladder arise from the pelivs. Toddlers fall on average 38 times every day. The little bones of the pelvis (sacrum) aren”t fused and can easily get knocked around a bit. Disruption in motion = disruption in communication. Imagine standing next to your friend and trying to talk when you are at a concert. That”s what the body is experiencing. Messages are being sent, but they aren”t being heard. By adjusting the pelvis, we correct the motion and open those lines of communication again so the energy is full and strong!
To understand how chiropractic can help with sleeping issues, first know that there is part of the nervous system called the autonomic nervous system. It has 2 divisions, basically online casino nbso a brake pedal and a gas pedal. If you have a subluxation in an area of the spine that controls the brakes, then the gas is left unchecked; the gas pedal is floored and your body is too keyed up to relax. Fix the subluxation and the body will “pump the brakes” and you are back to sleeping like a baby.
What types of problems should one come to you for beyond the common “back out of wack”?
-A couple of conditions were mentioned already (bed wetting and ear infections) and there are countless more! I have personally been able to help patients with colic, loss of bladder control, plantar fasciitis, uveitis (inflammatory condition of the eye)/eye pain and vision disturbances, casino internet shoulder pain, carpal and tarsal tunnel syndromes, degerative disc disease, degererative arthritis, allergies, and behavioral issues associated with autism just to name a few. Consider this…..if you have a cold, why wasn”t your immune system strong enough to fight off the virus? If you have GERD, why can”t your body regulate acid and protective mucus production? If you have hypoglycemia, why can”t your body control your insulin levels? Could it be because the brain and the body aren”t fully communicating? Basically, if a subluxation is causing your problem, chiropractic care should be able to help significantly!
Do all chiropractors treat babies/ pregnant mothers? Should parents look for certain certifications for this time of treatment?
-The majority of chiropractors do treat babies and pregnant moms, but not all SPECIALIZE in their treatment. Look for a certification through the ICPA (International Chiropractic Pediatric Association) designated by DACCP , CACCP, or FICPA after their DC degree. Also look for certification in the Webster technique.
Should I bring my child to be adjusted regularly? Starting at birth? (Reader Question)
-As soon as I could get my hands on my son after his birth, he was adjusted. He had just gone through a heck of a process and I wanted his nervous system working at 100%. Since his birth, I check his spine all the time, as you can imagine, but he doesn”t always need care. He is actually adjusted every 1-2 weeks. He doesn”t always need adjusting, but you don”t know, unless you check. This is what I do for my family, and because I believe that I should care for my patients like family, I recommend that they are in for a check every other week.
What is the financial investment comparable to? (Are most chiropractors covered by insurance, affordable for self-pay, required frequently?)
-Slowly but surely the government is eliminating chiropractic care from their programs, which means that most private insurance companies will soon follow suit. Generally speaking insurance doesn”t want to pay for wellness or maintenance care. This may seem like a bummer, but it is a blessing in disguise. Insurance companies dictate care and fee schedules. If our services aren”t covered, we can offer much more affordable care and work out family plans. As it stands now, BlueCrossBlueShield has the covered fee for an adjustment set near $55. Family chiropractors often have a flat rate plan that allows everyone to come in as often as needed, and that usually makes the per adjustment fee drop from $55 to much closer to $30. Every office and policy is different, but if you find a wellness chiropractor, they should have a family plan in place. For a family of 5, prices vary widely, but expect to pay somewhere between $250-$400/month for weekly care. (Chiropractic care is a part of the approved HSA expenses.)
How does one keep the adjustment, especially when overly flexible? (Reader Question)
-Pay attention to your habits! Rarely do people come into my office that have issues from big events, like falling down stairs or a car accident. Repetitive stresses wear us down overtime. Watch your ergonomics and make small changes to your daily routine to help minimize bad habits.
If being too flexible is a concern, I would recommend a hair analysis to check your mineral levels. Often hyperflexibility is due to copper deficiency.
(sorry…for lack of a better answer here….answers vary quite a bit depending on the cause of the hypermobility, ie previous sprain or congenital disorder like Ehlers Danlos…)
Why do most chiropractors take an x-ray when radiation is such a concern? Is there another way? (Reader Question)
-Most chiropractors x-ray because we are concerned with the structural integrity of the spine. Posture distortions weaken the spine and add stress to the nervous system. X-rays also help us to set realistic goals and manage patient expectations. If we see that the base of the spine is unlevel, we know that is the first step in a patient”s treatment plan. If we were to find a scoliosis, we can measure the degree of the curvature and have a more accurate timeline for care, because presumably, a 15 degree curve will take less time to correct than a 30 degree curve. This helps us to build a better care plan for our patient, and improves the results for the patient as underlying causes of postural distortions aren”t missed.
Presuming there is no posture distortion that would necessitate an x-ray, there are good options for monitoring the success of care. In my office I utilize an Insight Subluxation Station. Through a series of painless, non-invasive tests I can monitor the autonomic nervous system, as well as the motor nerves (control the muscles), a patient”s range of motion and pain levels. This testing is repeated throughout a care plan to make sure the patient”s perceived improvement and the doctors findings are a true representation of what is happening within the body. There are other similar testing devices, like the Myovision, that also provide a means of objectively measuring a patient”s improvement.
A big thank you to Dr Ballard for answering our questions! Chiropractic can play a major role in your health and well being.
Do You Have Any Other Questions Or Concerns When it Comes To Chiropractic Care?
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