Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wellness Wednesday!!

This Wellness Wednesday I interviewed my friend and chiropractic intern, Adam Keeler- a proud new papa of a 1 week old baby boy. Thankfully he found time to answer my questions before baby arrived! My topic is:

The Importance of Chiropractic Care for the Expectant Mother

Me: What is the difference in "straight" chiropractic and other chiropractic care?

    Adam: The term “straight” was coined by the developer of chiropractic, BJ Palmer in the early 1900’s. He used it to denote the branch of chiropractic which involves purely the detection and correction of vertebral subluxations (definition below). As chiropractic has evolved over the years, it has taken on many modalities which are used by physical therapists, orthopedists and the like – straight chiropractic (which is better known in the Spartanburg area, due to Sherman College of Straight Chiropractic) refers to excluding these modalities and working only on correcting the spine. “Other” chiropractic is actually more commonly practiced and seeks to diagnose and treat conditions and disorders of the body through spinal manipulation and various other methods such as nutrition, massage, acupuncture, etc. These chiropractors frequently view themselves as more primary physicians and work to be considered more of a specialist in the medical spectrum.

    Me: How often should an expectant woman visit the chiropractor?

    Adam: This is a very common question in practice; it entirely depends on your spinal health. All too many people are being told that they need to come in for care three times a week forever – this is simply not true. Your body does not work over night, and the adjustments given by the chiropractor need time to “resonate” with your body before another check is warranted. In the initial stages of care, office visits should be more frequent as the chiropractor is getting acquainted with the condition of your spine. Expectant mothers also have many ligament changes occurring with their bodies – this increases the soft tissue involvement and may increase the frequency of visits. The best advice is to have a chiropractic evaluation by a licensed chiropractor to get the answer for you.

    As a rule of thumb, an established pregnant patient is usually seen monthly for the first 6 months, every two weeks for months 7 and 8, and then weekly until delivery. This corresponds to the increased stress of weight gain and postural carriage, and end stage hormonal changes causing ligamentous softening and shifting of the baby just prior to delivery. Ensuring proper balance at the time of delivery optimizes the chances of a more normal and efficient birth.

    Me: What techniques should the chiropractor be able to perform to assist the expectant woman?

    Adam: The concept of technique in chiropractic is a very sticky subject – nearly all chiropractors in practices have customized their methods into a unique technique. What this means to you as the patient is that there are many ways in which your spine may be corrected. You need to find someone whose technique allows them to answer these three questions: Do I have a chiropractic problem? Can you help me? Can you prove to me that you have helped me? If they can satisfy you with their answers to those, chances are that they have a technique that will stand up. One of the best techniques in the field today is the Results System, which uses some of the most sophisticated equipment available to determine when and where an adjustment is warranted.

    The most common place where expect moms and chiropractors cross paths is in the field of breech babies. It is common to hear that chiropractic (specifically the Webster Technique) can turn breech babies. This is somewhat true – the Webster technique has been shown to turn breech babies, but it is not intended to turn breech babies. Just as straight chiropractic is not intended to relieve pain, but to remove nerve interference – they tend to go hand in hand. The Webster technique is an extension of bony adjusting in chiropractic to include those ligaments which surround the uterus. There is no motion done by the chiropractor during these procedures to turn the baby, but only to relax the ligaments around the uterus in order to make it more symmetrical. The more symmetrical the uterus, the more freely the baby may move about in it. The better that your body functions, the better that you will be able to perform – do you think that if your hips are aligned properly that they may give way to allow the baby to pass through faster and easier?

    Me: Should the doctor be licensed to specifically to care for pregnant women?

    Adam: All practicing chiropractors are licensed in their state boards, which have insured that they are able to take care of pregnant women. So asking for a specific license is not essential for care; however, you do want to make sure that your chiropractor is specific in his adjusting and only corrects where he / she has detected nerve interference. As mentioned above, the Webster technique would be a good adjunct to care, even if your baby is not breech. This technique only focuses on symmetry around the uterus which is good for any pregnant mother.

    Me: Why is chiropractic care important for a pregnant woman?

    Adam: Chiropractic care is more important for pregnant moms than anyone else on the planet! The purpose of chiropractic is to insure that the messages sent by your brain are not interfered with as they reach their target. Your brain coordinates all the functions of your body (including the growth of your baby).

    Me: Do x-rays always have to be performed to have appropriate chiropractic care? What if I refuse them?

    Adam: The use of x-rays in chiropractic is to find the misalignment component of the subluxation. If entering care while pregnant – pelvis x-rays should be avoided; however it is still safe to take cervical (neck) x-rays as long as proper shielding is done. The goal of chiropractic care for pregnant and non-pregnant women is one and the same, that is to remove subluxations. Although many women experience low back pain, which drives them to seeking chiropractic care, over 90% of subluxations are found in the cervical region – which means that many problems can be fixed with cervical x-rays alone. Some chiropractors will use other methods rather than x-ray to determine the location of subluxations – they would be happy to treat you without films. Most specific doctors of chiropractic utilize x-rays in a way that without them, care is impossible. Proper specific care of your nervous system requires the use of x-rays to be taken – you want your doctor to see what he/she is working on and not trying to guess thru tissue what it feels like… don’t you? Ideally, women should include a chiropractic evaluation as part of their health program prior to becoming pregnant to improve their chances of conceiving and developing a healthy child.

    Me: What is a subluxation?

    Adam: A subluxation is a condition given to a vertebra (bone in the spine) that has become either misaligned or is not functioning properly with the ones above and below it. The brain sends its messages down the spinal cord which is protected by these 24 bones. When one becomes subluxated, it then puts pressure on these delicate nerve fibers and interferes with the messages that the brain is sending to the body. Over time this decrease in brain function will lead to any number of health problems, most common are asthma, ear infections, depression and many more. The chiropractor’s job is to determine if and where these subluxations are present and correct them.

    Me: Why do pregnant women experience more back pain than non-pregnant women?

    Adam: Increased weight, altered center of gravity, altered body mechanics, hormonal changes/stresses, metabolic stresses, difficulty finding adequate support while sitting and lying, lack of adequate sleep

    Me: What are some good ways to maintain good spinal health in between visits?

    Adam: Attention to posture and body mechanics, attention to proper support while sitting, exercise(esp. walking and stretching), stress reduction techniques, diet

    Thanks to Adam for lots of great information and taking the time from his busy schedule to answer my questions! If you have any other questions about Chiropractice care in the expectant mother, feel free to ask!! You can also contact Adam directly at

1 comment:

  1. Fab blog!! So happy to have stumbled upon you!