Chiropractic & The Nervous System

Many people wonder how Chiropractic treatments can benefit them.  Rightfully so!  If you've ever been adjusted, most of the time you're not sure of what's going on other than it feels good.  This article will explain the benefits of chiropractic care and how it relates to our nervous system. 

When the spine is not aligned or the body is out of balance, it can impact the function of the nervous system, causing chronic pain, difficulty in mobility, and a wide range of health conditions.  Adjustments and mobilizations to your spine remove unwanted pressure from the nerves, allowing your body to function more efficiently.  You'll experience a decrease in pain, increased mobility and an overall feeling of happiness as endorphins are released.  Regular chiropractic care reduces systemic inflammation and improves organ, joint, and muscular function leading to overall better health!

The Nervous System is a complex network of nerves and cells that carry messages to and from the brain and spinal cord to various parts of the body.  It is responsible for organ function, movement, and experiencing the senses of sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell.  The brain receives the information that is carried by the nervous system, it processes the information and helps the body react appropriately.

For example, when you look at a cat, the image is transmitted through the nervous system, processed in the brain, and translated to the image of a cat as you understand it. The transmission of the message is instantaneous.

There is the Central Nervous System and the Peripheral Nervous System.  The CNS is made up of the brain and the spinal cord and control most bodily functions such as awareness, movements, sensations, thoughts, speech, memory and reflexes.  The PNS, on the other hand, is made up of the Somatic Nervous System, Autonomic Nervous System, and the Enteric Nervous System. 

The Somatic Nervous system consists of all voluntary control of movement, such as your ability to consciously type at your computer, or pull your hand away after touching a hot stove. 

The Autonomic Nervous System consists of all pathways that go to glands, blood vessels and organs (smooth muscle).  It is responsible for digestion, elimination, heart rate, salivation, perspiration, breathing and sexual arousal.  It is further broken down into Sympathetic and Parasympathetic divisions.  Sympathetic is your "fight or flight" instincts - whether that's getting chased by a bear or almost getting hit by a car - it's the mode your body goes into to survive.  Parasympathetic is your "rest and digest" - i's responsible for the healing process and repairs a lot of damage the sympathetic division does to our bodies. 

Last but not least, the Enteric Nervous System is sometimes called your "Second Brain" because it functions almost entirely on it's own without the help from the Central Nervous System.  The ENS consists of sheaths of neurons embedded in the walls of the long tube of our gut, which measures about nine meters end to end from esophagus to the anus (that’s 29 1⁄2 feet!!!). It contains roughly 100 million neurons, more than in either the spinal cord or in the peripheral nervous system and it uses more than 30 neurotransmitters, JUST LIKE THE BRAIN!  It also contains 95% of your serotonin, your happy hormone. Michael Gershon, author of The Second Brain states, "The brain in the head doesn't need to get its hands dirty with the messy business of digestion, which is delegated to the brain in the gut”

Chiropractic works because the body is self healing, regulated by the nervous system. Impulses flow from your brain, down your spinal cord, leading to nerve roots which branch off between each spinal joint. These nerves link with every cell and tissue in your body. With such close proximity to the moving bones of the spine, improper motion or position of spinal bones can irritate and compromise nerve function. Chiropractic care locates these areas and helps reduce their effect with spinal adjustments. Health often returns with restored nervous-system control of your body.

Our next blog post will discuss ways to strengthen your Nervous System!

Stay tuned!

Kaitlyn J Popp, D.C.