Your Nervous System

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I’m sure many of you know chiropractic care has to do with the spine, but what many of you might not be aware of is that chiropractic actually focuses on the nervous system. I was the same way. I started seeing the chiropractor in high school for Bell’s Palsy and neck pain. Then in college I had severe low back pain and chiropractic care helped tremendously. Every time I went to one it was for a reason – being in pain with the only goal of getting out of that discomfort. I had no idea that my health and body could benefit so much from chiropractic care, until I started researching more about it and decided to go to chiropractic school. I was also not educated about chiropractic and its amazing benefits from the chiropractor I was seeing (but as a teenager I doubt I would have listened anyway!) but this is why I love to educate my patients about how wonderful chiropractic care is. More often than not, the reason to begin seeing a chiropractor is for pain relief or some other complaint, but a lot of people will notice other differences/improvements in their bodies. That is the result of treating the nervous system by treating the spine allows the body to function better, and for the brain and the body to communicate more efficiently.

The nervous system is the major controlling system of the body. Every single feeling, thought, and action is processed by the nervous system. The nervous system allows the body to constantly react to changes in its internal and external environments, therefore regulating the body for optimal health. The nervous system is divided into two parts: the Central Nervous System (CNS) and the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS). The CNS consists of the brain and spinal cord. The PNS consists of nerve fibers, cell bodies and synapses that connect the peripheral structures in the body to the CNS, allowing the brain and body to communicate.

The PNS includes 12 cranial nerves and 31 pairs of spinal nerves that provide communication from the CNS to the rest of the body and regulate the functions of the body. These nerves branch out from the spinal cord traveling through the spine to the body then back to the spinal cord and brain. One of the most important divisions of the PNS is called the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). The ANS controls the functions of the body that are automatic, meaning they are performed without you even thinking about it. Some of these functions include blood pressure, breathing and digestion along with several other organ functions. The ANS also has two divisions: the Sympathetic Nervous System and the Parasympathetic Nervous System – both of which are extremely important.

The Sympathetic Nervous System is in charge of the “Fight or Flight Response” that occurs in stressful situations, which you may or may not have heard of. I like to describe this response by imagining if you are camping out in the woods and a bear shows up. What do you do – fight or flight? (I hope you know to run. I mean, you can stick around and fight the bear… But I wouldn’t recommend it!) How do you know instinctively that you need to run and how does your body prepare for that? It’s the sympathetic nervous system! It increases your breathing, your heart rate, your blood pressure, increases blood flow to muscles to make them stronger, etc. It also slows the body processes that are not needed in stressful/emergency situations, like digestion. The sympathetic nervous system is great for short-term, but if it is stimulated and activated for long-term, meaning our bodies are in a constant state of stress, that is when we start having dysfunctions of the body.

The Parasympathetic Nervous System conserves and restores. It slows down your heart rate and blood pressure, it stimulates digestion, conserves energy, and uses the energy to restore and build tissues. Our parasympathetic nervous system should actually be dominant over the sympathetic nervous system, but like I mentioned above a lot of us tend to have a dominant sympathetic nervous system.

Chiropractors treat the nervous system, stimulating and decreasing the activity of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems to allow proper balance, communication and functions of the body. Chiropractic adjustments also decrease the stress on the body that causes spinal misalignments. What I mean by stress is any physical, chemical and emotional stress. They all affect our nervous systems. This is exactly why chiropractic is great for everyone – no matter what our age we all have stress! 

Contact Vitality Chiropractic & Acupuncture in Mankato, MN today to have your spine and nervous system checked!