Chiropractic is Not What You Think: The Science & Art of Healing

Chiropractic is Not What You Think: The Science & Art of Healing

A Parent’s Story

by Ed Arranga, guest author

Young girl's back being adjusted by a female chiropractor

“Chiropractic did not originate to treat pain: it originated to promote health.” — Anonymous

Chiropractic is known around the world. There are chiropractors in over 100 countries and 90 of those countries have national associations. The American Chiropractic Association estimates that the nation’s roughly 77,000 chiropractors care for more than 35 million Americans every year. But there seems to be a disconnect when it comes to the general public’s understanding of how they can help us improve our health.

Woman holding her back in painEveryone has a cousin or friend or knows someone who hurt their neck or back and went to a chiropractor to get help. That’s about the extent of interaction the general population has with the profession.

You see chiropractic offices tucked away in strip malls next to laundromats and liquor stores. They are largely invisible, never seen or talked about anywhere.

The sales pitch sounds like a bad marketing campaign from the 1950s — “health and wellness” — carrying with it the same promissory weight as the term “beauty salon.”

The profession has been around for more than 120 years. Sure, if you slip and fall and twist your back, you’ll think about finding a chiropractor. You remember they helped your cousin that one time. What more do you need to know?

And then one day, your son develops a chronic, debilitating cough that won’t go away…

A Growing Problem

My son, Jarad, developed a cough a few years ago, and my concern heightened as the cough became more frequent. The cough was almost constant and getting worse. We tried many healthful items like cups of tea with honey, a vaporizer, and decongestants, but this did not slow the cough’s trajectory.

We saw many different doctors: ear, nose, and throat specialists; neurologists; an allergist; and a gastroenterologist. None of their prescriptions worked.

We knew it wasn’t postnasal drip, asthma, gastroesophageal reflux, chronic bronchitis, chemical irritation, whooping cough, or a host of other possibilities, but we still didn’t know what it actually was.

The hacking was continual and, at this point, it had been going on for more than 2 years.

I didn’t know how my son’s throat could withstand the irritation of the sometimes very strong coughing. Several of the doctors began suggesting it was in my son’s head — a psychosomatic disorder.

It was time to move away from naysayers and find answers.

A Different Paradigm

“Look well to the spine for the causes of disease.”— Hippocrates

A friend advised me to bring my son to a local chiropractor. The initial intake assessment and exam were remarkably quick. The chiropractor placed Jarad on an upper-leaning adjustment table, grasped his head in his hands, and gently rotated his head in one direction and then the other, with the characteristic cracking noise (the cracking sound you hear is not bone, it’s gas — synovial gas — escaping from the joint) occurring each time.

Illustration of the Thoracic VertebraeThe chiropractor had Jarad turn over and lie on his stomach, feeling along his spine and putting pressure on the T5 vertebrae, in the thoracic area (the upper back.) The head turning along with the popping sound was repeated with both adjustments, and he tolerated the process well. In fewer than 3 minutes, we were done. An hour later, Jarad coughed.

It was the first time in over 2 years he went more than a minute without coughing. Jarad didn’t cough again the rest of the day. After 3 visits, his cough was 90 percent gone!

What had just happened? Why didn’t I know about this sooner?

It brought me back to a time 20 years ago when I was told there was no hope for helping my son’s autism. The “experts” told me to give up and move on, “Autism is now and forever, and there’s nothing you can do to help.”

That wasn’t true then, and it wasn’t true now. The coughing was NOT a figment of my son’s imagination.

And so I began to really comprehend, as Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics reports, “Proper motion and alignment of the spinal synovial joints is a genetic requirement for health and a lack of proper motion in the spine represents a stressor.”

Health is Not the Absence of Pain

Today, 53 to 54 percent of children suffer from a chronic illness. There is an explosion of neurodevelopmental disorders that include autism, PDD-NOS, OCD, and ADHD.

Definition of the word ADHDBehaviors exhibited in children diagnosed with ADHD (attention-deficit / hyperactivity disorder), specifically the inability to pay attention and being in constant motion, are manifestations of chronic stress.

An acute injury is very painful and needs immediate attention, but a chronic condition often sneaks up on someone unexpectedly. The joints send stress signals to the brain, and the brain releases stress hormones.

With this type of condition there is no pain, but the body is sick and will continue to send stress signals until all the conditions associated with chronic stress begin to manifest themselves in the body.

Spinal joints that are out of alignment will not move properly, will begin to degenerate, and will cause inflammation. Being chronically out of alignment will cause a chronic stress response. One might think it would be painful, but it’s not. That’s a misconception and major difference between acute and chronic illness.

When subluxations occur in the spine, these misalignments cause tension in the spinal cord or the nerves exiting from the spine. This causes an interference or imbalance in the nervous system messages to the various organs, tissues, glands, and cells.

This means the brain cannot communicate with the body nor the body with the brain as efficiently or effectively as nature intended, which leads to various dysfunctions and symptoms.

The Havoc of Stress

Understanding the basic stress response of the body provides the building blocks behind the art and science. When a person is placed in a stressful situation, the brain releases stress hormones, such as adrenaline, cortisol, norepinephrine, and others. The heart rate and blood pressure increase to send the hormones everywhere in the body.

Chronic Stress shown via 4 emojisThe body enters a state of upregulation, which is the process of increasing the ability to respond to stress. Catabolic processes begin breaking down complex compounds and molecules to release energy. There is an increase of cholesterol, blood-clotting factors, blood sugar, and fatty acids in the blood.

Catabolic activity is metabolically expensive, requiring that anabolic activities (healing, growth, and repair) are put on hold. The immune system is downregulated, which is the process of reducing or suppressing a response to a stimulus. Cell-modulated immunity is decreased. There is a decrease in factual memory and learning capability.

During an acute stress response, the senses of sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste are heightened. The body is adapting to the situation and these varied responses are intelligent.

Survival depends on the ability of the body to properly respond to stressful changes in the environment.

The dangers arise when the acute stress response becomes chronic. The decrease in healing; growth; repair; memory; and brain-, organ-, and immune-function, is no longer temporary — it becomes permanent. The increase in cholesterol, blood glucose, fatty acids, and insulin is off the charts.

The increase in insulin downregulates the production of HGH (human growth hormone), the hormone responsible for longevity, anti-aging, healing, growth, and repair. Excessive insulin then prevents the production or proper utilization of magnesium, the mineral which is responsible for relaxing both skeletal and smooth muscles, the arteries, and the heart.

How Chiropractic Works

Chiropractors study physiology — the branch of biology that deals with normal functions of living organisms and their parts. Medical doctors study physiology too, but then focus mostly on pathology — the study of the origin, nature, and course of diseases.

Chiropractic returns healthful motion to the spine, which returns healthful motion to the body.

Daniel David Palmer, founder of chiropracticD.D. Palmer, chiropractic’s founder, defines chiropractic as, “a philosophy, science and art of things natural; a system of adjusting the segments of the spinal column by hand only, for the correction of the cause of dis-ease.”

Palmer also said, “Chiropractic is a restorative healthcare profession that focuses on the inherent healing capacity of the body and the fact that the nervous system is the primary system involved in that healing and repair.”

Steve Tullius, a pediatric chiropractor in San Diego stated, “Chiropractors are specifically trained to locate and gently correct these structural imbalances in the spine, known as vertebral subluxations, and by doing so, restoring balance and function to the nervous system.”

Chiropractic care adjustments facilitate health and function.

Chiropractic and the Immune System

A very important part of keeping our immunity strong is the lymphatic system. It consists of a network of lymph nodes, ducts, and vessels that move the lymph (a fluid made of white blood cells and chyle) from various parts of the body into the bloodstream. The lymph nodes are responsible for making immune cells that help to fight infections.

The better the lymph is able to travel through the body, the more it is able to carry the infection-fighting cells to every part.

The lymphatic system is connected to both the central nervous system and the musculoskeletal system. A chiropractic adjustment helps the central nervous system by removing subluxations that prevent proper communication throughout the body. The musculoskeletal system transports the lymph through the body as we move and contract our muscles.

Adjustments allow for more movement in the muscles, which increases movement of the lymph.

A Learning Experience

Illustration of the Cervical VertebraeAfter examining Jarad’s spine and nervous system, Dr. Holland explained that he had found areas in Jarad’s spine that were misaligned — specifically vertebral subluxations at C1 (cervical or neck area) and T5.

Dr. Holland began a series of gentle adjustments to restore normal movement and function to the spine, allowing the body to communicate more effectively. As a result, we saw Jarad’s cough disappear.

The source of the problem were the misalignments which were not allowing Jarad’s lymph glands to operate as they should.

His lymph glands were overflowing, causing Jarad to cough and swallow continuously in an attempt to clear them.

Jarad’s schedule consisted of 2 adjustments a week (generally Monday and Friday), for 6 weeks, during the corrective phase, dropping down to 1 adjustment a week during the support phase, for 6 weeks. Going forward, I plan to take Jarad once a month to help keep him subluxation free.

As a parent, I’m grateful to chiropractic for restoring Jarad’s health, and grateful to the chiropractic doctors who soldier on, rarely being given the recognition they deserve, while routinely performing some of the most extraordinary reversals of health fortunes in the healthcare industry.



WELCOME Michael O’Reilly PT, DPT, Physical Therapist

The Spine and Health Center of Montvale welcomes Michael O’Reilly, PT, DPT, Physical Therapist to our Team.


ACL Tears and Injuries – The What, The Why and The How

Everything You Need to Know About ACL Tears


You no longer have to be an avid sports fan to hear about the ACL any more. If you are a parent of a young athlete, a recreational athlete, or weekend warrior, I would surely bet that you have heard of this ligament and its injury epidemic. In our practice, ACL injuries are becoming more common than ever before, with age ranges from children of 12 years old to active adults of all ages. But why? Why are ACL tears in athletes becoming more and more common?

We will get there, I promise.

But first… a little background. What is the ACL?

The ACL is one of the four main ligaments of the knee, along with the Medial (inside) Collateral Ligament, Lateral (outside) Collateral Ligament, and Posterior Cruciate Ligament that connects and stabilizes the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (big lower leg bone) and fibula (small lower leg bone). As a general rule, ligaments prevent or restrict motion to specific joints. The motions they restrict are determined from their origin and insertion.

  • Collateral Ligament
    • Collateral ligaments are outside ligaments, as seen below. These ligaments prevent valgus and varus (side to side) stresses to knee
  • Cruciate Ligament
    • Cruciate ligaments are found deep in the knee joint. The Anterior (front) cruciate ligament and Posterior (back) Cruciate Ligament cross in an ‘X” pattern to prevent front to back sheer stresses on knee joint.

The ACL, specifically, prevents anterior (or forward) translation, and internal rotation of the tibia on the femur. In other words, the ACL also prevents lateral rotation of the femur on the tibia.

How does the ACL play a role in my daily life?

Accelerating, decelerating, reacting, turning, twisting, and jumping, occur in almost every sport, and with these motions, our ligaments, along with muscles, prevent our joints from moving in unwanted or injury susceptible directions. However, when our muscles are broken down, our bodies are fatigued or malnourished, and our minds are not focused on the demanding task at hand, we put ourselves at risk for injury. Now, these are not the only reasons why ACL tears occur, but the fact is that an estimated 70% of ACL tears are sustained through non-contact mechanisms; the remaining 30% result from direct contact. This means, that 70% of the time, we cannot blame the contact sport, or another person for causing us injury.

So here are some facts:

  • The majority of ACL injuries (70%) occur while playing agility sports, most often reported in basketball, soccer, skiing and football.
  • ACL tears are most prevalent in patients 15-45 years old.
  • Female-male ACL tear ratio has been reported to be as high as 9:1 by NCAA statistics.

To explain the reason for females being nine times more likely to sustain an ACL injury than males, please see Figure 1. But, what else goes into that 70% non-contact number?


As touched on earlier, mental and physical fatigue can play an overwhelming role in injury. The concept of “overuse” is an educational piece for not only athletes, but many parents as well. Parents, think back to when you were growing up… what sports did you play, what seasons did they occur in, how many of your teammates had ACL injuries?   Many of the athletes whom I encounter in my practices who have had or are currently rehabilitating from an ACL tear report that they are a single sport athlete and play that sport all year round, on different teams possibly even at the same time. While not bad to build skill, our bodies need time rest, muscles time to recover, and minds to mentally decompress. Are the young athletes today, achieving this?

 The warm up and cool down

 The importance of the warm-up and cool-down cannot be overstressed. A warm up, should consist of active or dynamic movements that prepare and simulate game or practice-like situations, yes even contact movements. These movements and activities should aim to increase heart rate, initiate perspiration, and effectively warm up our bodies for the sport specific activities to come. Without a proper warm up, our bodies, muscles and joints are not properly acclimated to weather, external/environmental factors, or stretch/stress to come. A cool down should consist of static stretching and or foam rolling along with proper nutrient replenishing to allow our muscles, and minds to re-acclimate to normal.

 Finally, does field turf increase risk for injury?

The quick answer is that the jury is still out. While multiple research studies have been conducted, researchers have not found substantial evidence for or against field turf. Natural grass can yield many different surface types depending on the weather, while turf does not “give” as much as soil. My recommendations? When playing on turf, use a low cleat, to prevent planted feet from getting stuck when performing cutting, twisting, or jumping motions.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series, where I will talk about a few exercises for ACL prehabilitation or rehabilitation.

 Figure 1: Sex Differences in Females Compared to Males


Anatomical Differences Muscular and Neuromuscular Differences Laxity and Range of Motion
Wider Pelvis Diminished muscular force Greater range of motion
Increased flexibility Dependence on quadriceps muscle for stability Genu recurvatum (knee hyperextension)
Less-developed ACL Longer time to develop force Increased knee laxity
Smaller ACL in size Longer electromechanical response time Increased hip mobility/rotation
Increased genu valgum (knock knee position)
Increased medial tibia rotation

Wilk, K.E; Arrigo, C. Rehabilitation after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction in the female athlete. Journal of Athletic Training 1999;34(2):177-193


Happy Birthday Keri – Our Director of Physical Therapy!

This past Friday was the birthday of Keri Moran, The Spine and Health Center’s Director of Physical Therapy. All of us at the office want to take this opportunity to thank Keri for everything she does for our physical therapy department. With 18 years of experience as a physical therapist, Keri has always delivered high quality patient care while developing a fun, patient-friendly atmosphere. Keri is also the co-founder, along with Dr. Kelly Blundy, D.C., of Active PT Home Care. Active PT is a company that provides in-home physical therapy services to those who need the treatment and specialized care but cannot make it out of their house. Their mission is to help improve the quality of life of those who need it the most.
Back at The Spine and Health Center, Keri successfully treats a wide variety of conditions and injuries. She especially enjoys helping patients rehab knee and shoulder injuries.

What to Expect with Physical Therapy at The Spine and Health Center of Montvale

After a comprehensive initial evaluation that assesses all your strengths, weaknesses and goals, your treatment plan will include stretching, strengthening, and soft and deep tissue massage and mobilizations. Whether you have been dealing with a chronic condition for years, just had surgery or maybe want to avoid it, doing physical therapy can help get you your life back. Give our office a call at 201-746-6577 to find out more or to set up your physical therapy appointment today!

“After seeing several different physical therapists and being disappointed, my daughter’s coach recommended The Spine and Health Center of Montvale. What a difference! The staff are like family. Keri is amazing! She is always smiling and happy. She has worked wonders for both my children, keeping them in the sports that they love – dance and volleyball. I would recommend The Spine and Health Center of Montvale to everyone.”

– Alla G.


Welcome To Our New Website and Blog

We want to welcome everyone to our new website and our new blog. We are very excited to use this space to update you on many interesting topics about getting and staying healthy. We will be sending you up to date information from the news headlines to top research articles to find you the best health and wellness information that we think everyone should know. We want you to know the information that can really change your life… Supplements that you should take to avoid heart disease? How to add years to your life with food and diet? The five stretches that can prevent low back pain.

In other words, practical essential information that we all need to know to live a healthier and longer life.

Stay tuned and check back with us often. Even better, follow us on Twitter and Facebook and get the information sent right to your computer. In either case, we know you will be glad you did.

The Doctors & Staff at The Spine and Health Center of Montvale