Dr. Robert F. Kidd
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Dental & General Health
Manipulation (or spinal adjustment) is a method of treating back and neck problems that is as old as medical history. Hippocrates referred to it as "an old, but useful treatment." Most countries and societies in the world have people who manipulate, and they are often not medical doctors. In Canada, most manipulation is performed by chiropractors, although there are a few osteopaths and medical physicians who manipulate as well.
Manipulation has been looked upon by the medical profession in modern times with some suspicion, mainly because there has been no good scientific explanation of how it works. It also has been hard to prove that it works at all because there is no quantity that measures how much pain the patient has before and after treatment. Physicians who are skilled in examining patients with spinal problems can tell objectively however, if manipulation is working and just how well.
There are many techniques of manipulation and although some are simple, some take considerable skill. The common denominator of all methods however, is an attempt to achieve "balance" of the musculoskeletal system and to restore normal motion to joints that are not moving properly.
How does it work? Again, the evidence is still not conclusive, but recent research seems to show that manipulation changes muscle tone in specific muscles or goups of muscles thereby taking stress off an injured or painful structure.
Cranial Osteopathy (*or craniosacral therapy is a simplified form of cranial osteopathy usually practiced by non-physicians) is a form of osteopathic manipulation that makes use of a body rhythm that we all have, to detect and treat restritions of motion. We are not normally aware of it, but the body (including the head) very slowly and subtly widens and narrows every six to ten seconds. Accompanying this, is an inward and outward rotation of the limbs similar in quality to the rolling of an ocean wave.
This motion is carried throughout the body not only by the nervous system, but also by the fascia or connective tissue that envelopes our muscles, bones, and organs. Injuries can sometimes cause tightness of the fascia that restricts the motion of joints and subtly disturbs body posture, thereby leading to stiffness and pain.
With practice and concentration, this motion can be felt with the hands. Restrictions of motion can be detected and the areas of the body that are "tight" can be identified. Treatment consists of a very gentle stretching of tight tissue or "unwinding" of areas of tension. As the tension is released, the patient often feels a drowsiness, a heaviness, and/or a pleasant light-headedness.
In the days or weeks following a treatment, body posture adjusts. Sometimes, but not always, this is uncomfortable with pain felt in the same or a new location. When this occurs, it may be taken as an encouraging sign. Long-standing problems may take several treatments to resolve. Treatment is performed approximately every three weeks to allow the body to come to a new equilibrium between sessions.