Sonia Bowers studied chiropractic at Durban University of Technology and currently practises in Tokai, Cape Town. Apart from human patients she also treats dogs, horses and the occasional cat. Bobbie Maree asked her a few questions. Bobbie Maree: What is chiropractic? Sonia Bowers: The term chiropractic means “done by hand”. Chiropractor’s evaluate movement between articular segments and look for restrictions or loss of movement which are called fixations or subluxations. Chiropractors evaluate movement of the spine, ribs, pelvic girdle which encompasses the sacro-iliac joints and pubic symphysis, and the extra-articular joints. BM: What is the purpose of relieving restrictions and/or subluxations? SB: In order for movement to occur, our brain sends impulses to our muscles. The decision the brain makes is based on the information it receives from the peripheral system composed of proprioceptors in muscles, ligaments, joints, and skin, to name a few. Therefore, any dysfunction of joints, capsules, muscles, etc. will send information to the brain which will process it and create a series of adaptive responses in the whole nervous and musculoskeletal systems. Function is therefore based on proprioceptive input interpreted by the central nervous system and it is accepted that the sensory system is intimately tied up with the motor system. The central nervous system and the musculoskeletal system are one functional unit. Every active movement that we perform is affected by information coming from our peripheral structures. The eventual quality of movement performed by our bodies first depends on the information from the joints, muscles, ligaments, skin, etc., that reaches the sensory portion of the parietal lobe which is the highest motor level in our cortex. From the parietal lobe the information is transferred to the frontal lobe and then along efferent pathways and movement occurs. The movement eventually becomes automatic on a subcortical basis, so we don’t have to think about it. Changes of proprioceptive input from joints, for example, will send altered information to the central nervous system causing us to move in a different way and eventually stress the joint. Altered proprioception from a chronic tight muscle will affect the range of joint motion and, as in joints, compensatory hypermobility will occur. While a painful facet joint or active trigger point will probably have a greater effect on our central nervous system, a painless fixation or latent trigger point or a chronically tight muscle will also have an adverse effect. Therefore it is important to relieve restrictions. BM: What qualifications are needed to become a chiropractor? SB: Chiropractic education varies by country but typically involves five to seven years of university-level education. In the , for example, entrance requirements include a minimum of two years college credits in qualifying science and other subjects, then...
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