By Denise Pauck, RN, ACLS and Richard Graham, DC
Many years ago, before the advent of orthodontics, crowded adult teeth causing pain and swelling were simply pulled out. Now we have the knowledge and ability to make room for crowded teeth by reshaping the mouth and straightening the teeth. Of course it takes more time and money to save teeth than pull them but we've found it generally wiser to preserve than to waste. This is especially true of joints and discs in the neck and back. Since the spine is made of movable bones that house the central nervous system and allows us freedom of movement, degeneration here leads to years of painful stiff misery and poor health. If your spine has lost its normal shape and the joints in your neck or back are abnormally compressed, locked or misaligned, the discs between the bones may have already started to decay. (Please see x-rays below) Valuable correction time should never be wasted. Where the spine is concerned we must save rather than waste. There are now two types of chiropractic care available: well-known Relief Care and modern day Corrective Care.
With Relief Care, some joint compression, muscle tension and nerve pressure can be relieved and most people feel better fast. However, the application of Relief Care is similar to inflating a tire with a leak. The damaged tire may be useful temporarily but will always require re-inflation. Further, the tire's leak is a structural weakness, a warning that it may fail unexpectedly. While Relief Care is an extremely valuable tool, it cannot reshape abnormal areas of the spine that cause disc tissue to wear away and spinal joints to become stiff, painful and arthritic. Think of Relief Care as temporarily relieving the pain and swelling caused by teeth that have grown too tightly together; but without straightening the teeth and reshaping the mouth as the orthodontist would. The majority of chiropractors focus on relief care in philosophy and technique due to their education and training.
Corrective Care is a modern, advanced form of chiropractic care designed to relieve damaging spinal pressure while simultaneously restoring the neck and back to their natural curved shapes. It requires detailed geometric spinal analysis and a specially trained doctor. With Corrective Care you and your doctor working as a team can improve the motion, function and longevity of your spine by decompressing, unlocking and reshaping it. Think of Corrective Care as orthodontics of the spine without the braces.
Unfortunately many patients have allowed their spines to deteriorate to the point that Corrective Care is not possible with current technology. However, for those patients where Corrective Care is still an option, the extra time, money and effort they spend now may help them avoid an early road to aging, years of hunched, stiff, painful posture and potential spinal surgery.
While Corrective Care does require the technical expertise of a chiropractic specialist, it also requires patient participation, especially with home care appliances and exercise. To straighten teeth and reshape the mouth, orthodontists apply pressure-over-time. Moving the teeth in a desired direction over a prolonged period of time is what changes the alignment and shape of the mouth. Similarly, the doctor of chiropractic utilizes special equipment to lift, decompress and reshape the spine.
If you were asked how much you should pay the dentist you would rightfully inquire as to the extent of services you would be receiving. You would of course expect to pay more to have your teeth straightened than to fix a toothache. Since there is limited insurance coverage for orthodontics, most patients finance their care or pay cash. The cost of Corrective Spinal Care will vary from case to case depending on its severity and length of care anticipated by the Doctor.
Fixing a toothache may take a day and cost hundreds, while having your teeth straightened takes years and costs $7,000-$8,000. Is having your spine Corrected and preserved worth as much as having your teeth straightened? You better believe it! Not hundreds but thousands of dollars alone in surgical prevention! Furthermore, stiffness and hunched posture is what makes even young people look and feel old. Premature aging of the neck and back will always occur when the spine buckles forward or is locked to one side. People notice. Again, as a registered nurse, I have all too often seen the chronic use of painkillers and muscle relaxants destroy relationships and productive lives while hiding progressive spinal disease. My vote is for prevention and correction.
The Choice is Yours!