Most of us have undergone some type of screening exam in the last several years. Depending on your age, personal history, and family history, you may have needed to go for a periodic mammography, colonoscopy, or cardiac stress test. If everything was fine, you have probably been instructed to follow-up next year, in three years, or in five years or more. As treatment is usually more effective and easier to accomplish in the early stages of illness, screening procedures are an important component of a public health and health care policy. Most people are generally aware of the usefulness of periodic screening exams for chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. Spinal screening, performed by your chiropractor, is an additional important service to assist you in maintaining your long-term health and well-being.1,2
Your spinal column is designed for two primary purposes: to provide for an extensive range of motion in three directions (forward and backward, side-to-side, and rotation) and to house and protect the spinal cord. Both of these functions are critical to ensuring ongoing health and wellness. A chiropractic spinal screening exam analyzes your spine to identify localized regions of limited mobility and to detect the presence of nerve interference.
First, if your spine is not freely movable, you will likely begin to experience neck, mid back, or low back pain. People often wonder why they have such pains. A person will typically say, “I didn’t do anything, really. I was driving and just looked around to make sure I could change lanes safely. Now I can’t move my neck.” Another person might say, “All I did was bend over to pick up the mail. My back really hurts.” The problem causing their pain wasn’t the simple twisting or bending motion. The problem was an underlying one – a lack of full mobility in the affected region of the spine.3
Next, your spinal cord is a direct extension of your brain. Your spinal cord connects your brain with the rest of your body through numerous pairs of spinal nerves. These spinal nerves branch out and create a complex communication network, sending signals from your brain to your body and from your body back to your brain. A mechanical problem in the spinal column can cause irritation to local spinal muscles, ligaments, and joints, which in turn can irritate spinal nerves and cause nerve interference. Nerve interference can cause disturbances in your body’s neural network, delaying nerve signals or causing information to be transmitted incorrectly or at the wrong time. Over time, symptoms develop in the affected region or regions as cells, tissues, and organs no longer do their job effectively. Eventually, symptoms may develop into full-blown chronic diseases.
Often, mechanical problems in the spine are not immediately obvious. The effects of nerve interference and back pain on a person’s health take time to develop. As with other chronic health issues, prevention is the best strategy. A spinal screening performed by your local chiropractor is the best way of detecting underlying problems. Chiropractic care then corrects nerve interference, helping your body perform effectively and helping you to enjoy long-lasting health and well-being.1Goertz CM, et al: Adding chiropractic manipulative therapy to standard medical care for patients with acute low back pain: the results of a pragmatic randomized comparative effectiveness study. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 2012 Oct 10 [Epub ahead of print]2Morningstar MW: Outcomes for adult scoliosis patients receiving chiropractic rehabilitation: a 24-month retrospective analysis. J Chiropr Med 10(3):179-184, 20113Bishop PB, et al: The Chiropractic Hospital-based Interventions Research Outcomes (CHIRO) study: a randomized controlled trial on the effectiveness of clinical practice guidelines in the medical and chiropractic management of patients with acute mechanical low back pain. Spine J 10(12):1055-1064, 2010