THE BODY ELECTRIC
Below the level of our awareness an amazing network of nerves operates constantly, reaching out to every part of our bodies, monitoring and controlling all our body functions. The nervous system is so extensive that, if everything else were taken away, the nerves by themselves would make up a complete three-dimensional image which would be recognizable. In the human brain there are over 26 billion nerve cells, while the spinal cord contains uncounted millions of delicate nerve fibers. The electrical potential of a nerve impulse may be as low as 5 one-millionths of a volt, but it is this electrical activity that keeps us alive and functioning. Every activity of the body is dependent on the nervous system.
The nervous system is composed of the brain and cranial nerves, the spinal cord, and 31 pairs of spinal nerves and their fibers. The spinal nerves leave the central cord in pairs through openings between the vertebrae and from there they conduct messages to and from all parts of the body.
One division of the nervous system - the peripheral nervous system - works at a conscious level, allowing us to move our muscles and relaying messages of pain, temperature, pressure and vibration. The other division - the autonomic nervous system - works constantly without our awareness to control internal functions, including heartbeat, digestion and constriction or dilation of blood vessels.
Spinal joint imbalance or misalignment can cause irritation of, or in extreme cases pressure on, a nerve. The result may be pain at a distant site, such as arms or legs, or headaches; or it may be numbness or "pins and needles." In extreme cases of nerve compression, there may be muscle weakness and wasting. Irritation of the autonomic nervous system can cause such problems as over-secretion of stomach acids, lack of normal function in the smooth muscle in the bowel leading to constipation or spasm, or circulatory disturbances due to constriction of blood vessels.
Finally, constant irritation of a nerve (which may not cause localized pain) lowers the individual’s threshold of tolerance for fatigue, tension and stress and can impair one’s ability to cope with ordinary situations. The result may be irritability, depression, inability to relax or sleep and other manifestations of "nervousness."
The chiropractic approach to the nervous system is to evaluate vertebral joint function and restore structural balance to the spine, minimizing irritation of the peripheral and autonomic nervous systems and allowing them to function optimally. For more information contact our office.