Terms and Conditions
A Guide to Common Terms and Neurological Conditions
A Preliminary Note of Explanation
Many of the descriptions found on this page refer to decreased brain function, problems in the brain or cerebellum, imbalance between the two halves of the brain, etc. This can sound very scary; few people want to be told that there brain isnt working. Be aware that most of the time, these terms are applied to subtle changes in function of the brain. The brain is working but at a different level of performance than the opposite side, or at a lower level than optimum. No implication of psychological problems are made here, just the realization that the manifestation of humanism and related human function and response is dependent in part on a strong and balanced neuraxis.
Chiropractic neurology is a field of health care in which the treating doctor is a chiropractor who analyzes and treats based on neurological findings and function. This type of doctor is sensitive to the fact that the human organism is a unit and that successful health care must be globally oriented rather than regionally oriented. Patient examinations are oriented so as to determine the functional strength of each part of the nervous system. Treatments are selected to specifically strengthen the weakened areas and to avoid strengthening the stronger areas until a balance is achieved.
Brain development is a lifelong event. Maturation of individual brain structures occur variably over the first two decades life. Thereafter, use or disuse of particular parts of the brain results in strengthening or weakening of these structures, much as a muscle changes with use or disuse. The majesty of the brain is such that with some weakening only subtle changes are noticeable as the brain adapts to the situation. As weakening continues, greater indications (symptoms) become evident. In many ways this is well demonstrated by the events known as aging. The posture in the typical image of the elderly is similar to that of a baby, as can be similarities in cognitive abilities, skin thickness, immune function, etc. In both cases, undeveloped or weakened brains can be the cause.
Chiropractic neurologists are trained to pick up on even the subtle changes and to introduce therapies that help bring brain development into balance.
Drugs are systemic. That is drugs act on all parts of the body that they get to (due to physiological reasons some drugs may not get to the brain for example but other drugs might.) This is one reason for the side effects of drugs; the drug may be introduced to stop the action of an area of the left brain stem, but because the drug is systemic all areas of the body with the appropriate cell configuration will be effected.
Chiropractic neurology is valuable in part due to the high degree of specificity that can be attained. This is very important in reattaining nervous system balance. If an area of the left brain stem needs strengthening, it is very important to not also strengthen the corresponding area on the right.
Hemisphericity is the term used to indicate an imbalance in functional ability or efficiency between the two halves (left and right) of the brain cortex. Because of brain interconnections, hemisphericity can show up as high blood pressure, hemorrhoids, differences in flexibility from side to side, double vision, ringing in the ears, sprained ankles, and a multitude of other conditions. Hemisphericity is important to the chiropractic neurologist as decreased function on one side of the brain is often a major component of problems in the body.
Joint Conditions (Sprains, lack of stability, etc.)
Joint stability is governed generally on two levels, gross or coarse stability and fine stability. Gross stability is afforded through ligaments which keep one bone in the general vicinity of a second bone of the joint. By themselves, ligaments prevent large dislocation of the joint, yet because of their relative inflexibility they do not provide the fine stability required for movement. This fine stability is provided in a general sense via muscles and tendons. More specifically, fine joint stability is a coordination of muscle tone, spinal cord, cerebellum and brain.
A person with a healthy nervous system is able to adjust instantaneously for uneven footing, etc. This ability is due to the combined action of the muscles, spinal cord, cerebellum and brain. If the general muscle tone of the muscles used (or of the counterbalancing muscles) is improper going into the situation, then the response will be less appropriate and the joint may fell shaky or worse.
Technically a sprain is a tear in the fibers of a ligament. Practically if you feel shaky using a joint or if you turn an ankle, (under normal conditions, anyway) the likely culprit is improper muscle tone as dictated by the brain or cerebellum. Without intervention at the appropriate place, you will probably continue to have problems with that joint and other joints on the same side of your body.
MRI (or MR)
Magnetic Resonance Imaging is one method for looking at the structure of the brain as well as other parts of the body. The patient is placed in a strong magnetic field, and based on the reactions of molecules in the body, and image of the brain is pieced together by computer. Death of a large number of neurons will be visible, often as decreased bulk.
Many of the problems seen in chiropractic neurology are not visible by MRI (or other current imaging techniques). This is because functional changes are often the result of weakened neurons, possibly in conjunction with death of a small number of neurons. These sorts of nerve changes are not visible on MRI. Consequently the approach of the chiropractic neurologist is to base treatment on a functional basis, rather than relying on the presence or absence of abnormalities in imaging studies.
Muscle tone is the resting tautness or laxity of a muscle, ideally somewhere in the middle of the range between total contraction and total relaxation. Tone is important for good function of the body. Good coordination, joint function and stability, and general muscle function are all dependent on proper muscle tone.
Subtle changes in muscle tone are excellent indicators of brain function. Babies are very flexible because their muscles are globally hypotonic (less tone than normal adults) because their brains are not yet developed enough. As the babies brains mature, muscle tone increases. Hypertonicity (more tone than normal) can also be a result of decreased brain function. For example, a person who has experienced a stroke may hold his or her arm or fingers in a flexed position. Although a stroke usually involves a large interruption of brain function, mild reduction in brain function may result in subtle occurrences of hypertonicity.
The neuraxis is simply a general term that represents the collection of all of the nervous tissue in the body. Neuraxis and nervous system can be used interchangeably. The neuraxis is often subdivided into groups; e.g., central nervous system and peripheral nervous system, or the somatic, autonomic and enteric (gut) nervous systems. The chiropractic neurologist is trained in the analysis and treatment of all of the neuraxis.
Rehabilitation is the restoration of function. The success of rehabilitation depends on many factors. The length of time since the injury is important as well as how the body adapted to the injury. Specificity of therapy is also a very big factor since most injuries are attributable to only one side of the neuraxis; if both sides are rehabilitated (or if the wrong side is rehabilitated) then the resultant recovery will be less. The chiropractic neurologist determines seeks to determine the specific area of injury and rehabilitate that area specifically.
Stroke is the deprivation of blood to part of the central nervous system. Stroke is usually thought of as affecting the brain, yet the brain stem, cerebellum or spinal cord may be the site of activity. When blood no longer gets to these areas, nutrients and oxygen are also prevented from being delivered. The result is cell death and injury depending on the degree and time of deprivation. Rehabilitation of stroke patients is necessary to partially or fully restore body function.
Chiropractic neurology is an excellent tool for the restoration of function to the stroke patient due to the specific therapies available to strengthen the affected part of the nervous system. Our experience is that chiropractic neurology can increase function well beyond that achieved through standard rehabilitation protocols.