The Spinal Column: Neurology for Dummies?

Dr. Jim Schaffer

I have to tell you...I really enjoy writing this weekly column. I always attempt to entertain you…. and in the process I am fully entertained. I chuckle out loud sometimes while I write. Sometimes my passion takes over and I am slamming the keyboard while typing. I like when my passion come through. I get comments and phone calls all the time letting me know that the people of Phoenixville are enjoying The Spinal Column as well. I have been telling a lot of stories lately in The Spinal Column. But last night while I was trying to sleep I kept getting a nudging feeling that told me I need to be sure I am also educating toward my mission while entertaining. So this week I bring us back to the basics. And that is...chiropractic is concerned with having a healthy nervous system so that you can have a healthy body functioning at it's optimum potential. I am going to contain my desire to go off on family, friends and patients stories and really focus on the basics. So here we go...I hope you enjoy! Please feel free to email, call or facebook me with your feedback. I enjoy it that too.

The first and most basic premise that you need to understand is that your brain – your nervous system – totally controls you - all of you! Every little bit!

It controls the function of every organ, cell and tissue; your brain and nervous system control every part of your being. Your nervous system is comparable to a Super Computer that runs the whole show.

In order for your brain to communicate effectively with your body, however, there must be a connection between the brain and your body. That connection is called the spinal cord - part of your nervous system. For those of you who are not very clinically oriented, think of the spinal cord as a telephone cable containing millions of tiny 'wires,' called nerves. They originate in your brain and travel along your spinal cord to differentparts of your body; the longest nerve in your body being the sciatic nerve - it extends into your toes! And it can be up to seven feet long. That's a lot of nerve! (Oops, there I go again having a good time).

The function of these nerves is to transmit information and messages between your brain and your body so that you can execute your body's program and maintain normal function and health. Isn't that amazing?

The bottom line is this: If the nervous system is allowed to function normally and transmit information from the brain to the body and from the body to the brain with nothing interfering in this process, then you should have the best health humanly possible. We simply call this normal.

Imagine, however, taking a knife and cutting the spinal cord in half between the neck and the shoulders. How many of you suspect that this would not be a good thing to do? You are right. We have just caused a serious breach in communication between the brain and the rest of you. With no communication there is instant death.

If on the other hand, we caused a small interference in the spinal cord – a tiny nick - making only part of your nervous system inoperative, and the rest transmitting information fairly normally, your body would then not function normally. In other words, your body would no longer be able to follow your program. It would malfunction.

Let's look at this closer. Consider, for example, driving your brand new Porche. Instead of having it running on eight cylinders, as it should, it is now only running on five. The dashboard warning bells, whistles and lights are all on, there is smoke appearing in the back of the vehicle and at every stoplight it stalls. But generally, it is still drivable. That would be a good example of malfunction.

Your body is similar. It can still function to a degree, but you would not have what we call good health. I call this survival or just simply getting by. It is not OK.

To many of us, though, this seems to be the normal operating state for a human being. We even expect this state of affairs when we 'get older,' and over our lifetime we a long list of things we are no longer able to do. It soon becomes a wall so high we are unable to see over it. There are more things we can't do than things we can do. That is a sad state of living and it definitely is not health!

What would be examples of malfunction in the body? Let's see...stiffness of movement (especially in the morning), numbness and tingling in the hands or feet, chronic cough, diarrhea, constipation, wheezing, dribbling in your underwear when you cough or sneeze, ear infections, etc. There are thousands of examples of malfunction.

The best and only way to know if your nervous system is functioning at 100% is to have a chiropractor check your spine for vertebral subluxations. That is when a spinal bone, known as a vertebrae, is out of its normal position and is squeezing on the nerve, which is part of the nervous system. A chiropractor will realign the vertebrae to restore 100% function to the nerve and therefore the nervous system.

Whew...that's it. That is what chiropractic is all about. Pretty basic, right?

So, please have a chiropractic check up to see how healthy you really are...and pretty please, have your kids spines checked. Their little growing bodies need all the information they are supposed to get from the nervous system to grow up healthy and strong, with all organs, cells and tissues functioning at 100%. And pretty, pretty, pretty please if you or your child are experiencing any signs of malfunction call today! (oooops…there goes my passion again!)

That's it for this week Phoenixville.

See you next week! Enjoy the summer weather.

Dr. Jim Dr. Jim Schaffer of Kimberton Chiropractic Center, Phoenixville, is a weekly contributor to The Phoenix.484-921-4936

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