Frequently Asked Questions
What is chiropractic?
Chiropractic was discovered in the late 1800's in Davenport, IA (where Dr. Hanft got his chiropractic degree!). D.D. Palmer was working in an old building when he discovered a janitor who had a hearing problem. The short version is that D.D. placed his hands on this man's spine, delivered a specific adjustment, and the man's hearing returned and "Chiropractic" was born.
Chiropractic literally comes from the Greek words "chiro" which means hands and "praktikos" which means "to use". To Use One's Hands! That's exactly what most chiropractors do.
To understand why chiropractors are necessary, you have to look at what they use their hands to help. The human spine is a series of bones that house the spinal cord in nearly every living creature on the planet, including humans of course. Your nervous system, consisting of your spinal cord and brain, communicate with every cell, tissue, and organ in your body. The spine is in charge of protecting the spinal cord. Nerves travel through the middle of these bones (like a tunnel) and exit to go to certain tissues in the body. When these bones are properly aligned, the body can work at its fullest potential.
So why do you want the bones aligned? Chiropractors understand that a fully functional, uninhibited nervous system is vital to maximizing your health. When your spine is in proper alignment, this gives your body the best chance at achieving this high level of health. When your spine is out of its proper positioning, however, this can cause your body to not be working at full capacity. When chiropractors correct this misalignment, they give your body the best chance of healing properly and quickly, as well as attaining maximum function.
Many people do not realize how little is required to misalign the spine. For example, many everyday occurrences can cause spinal misalignment. These include picking up a child, working in the yard, stress, and more serious causes like car accidents and falls.
The truly scary aspect of all this is how good your body can be at hiding problems from you. From the minute you are injured, your body begins the process of protecting itself from further damage. Your body does this to prevent more short-term damage. Unfortunately, if left untreated, this process can also set in motion a chain of events that can lead to potentially serious and long-term damage, including chronic pain, loss of movement and mobility, and degeneration. Chiropractors believe that even though you may not feel pain, your body may still not be operating at its peak performance level.
So what does all this mean? Put simply, most chiropractors, including Dr. Hanft, believe that everybody should be checked for spinal mis-alignments on a routine basis. Since it is often difficult to detect problems in our bodies before they become serious, the best prevention is to ensure all the bones in your spine are properly aligned at all times. This may require multiple visits, and Dr. Hanft will work with you and your family to determine what schedule of care is ideal for you. Dr. Hanft will make recommendations that he believes will help you reach your maximum health potential. Remember, our goal is always the same: To treat you like we'd like to be treated. That means doing everything we can to help you reach both your short-term and long-term health goals.
What techniques do you use?
Hanft Family Chiropractic's philosophy is that every person is unique and therefore requires a personalized health care program so that they can reach their maximum health potential. One technique may not be the best option for everyone. Therefore, we offer a wide variety of techniques at our practice, and we are determined to find the right one for you and your family.
As always, we are open to suggestions. If for some reason a particular technique does not feel right to you, we'll work together to find one that does. We are here to serve you.
What is an adjustment?
An "adjustment" is what most chiropractors utilize to help patients. Broken down into simpler terms, it really means chiropractors adjust or move certain bones in your spine to improve the function of your nervous system.
At Hanft Family Chiropractic, adjustments will most often be performed by Dr. Hanft using only his hands. Specifically, Dr. Hanft will apply a small amount of force to a specific area of your spine. Adjustments are rarely painful, and Dr. Hanft will communicate with you every step of the way to ensure your comfort throughout the entire process.
There are other methods of "adjusting" that Dr. Hanft uses less frequently in the office. One involves a small chiropractic device called an "activator." This tool, held in one hand, can also deliver an adjustment to the spine and can be valuable tool in your personalized care plan.
The last technique, called Lumbar Flexion/Distraction, utilizes a special table to take pressure off certain structures in the low back. This technique or adjustment is extremely low force and can produce effective results for sufferers of low back pain.
What is subluxation?
A subluxation is the misalignment of at least one spinal bone compared to another which, as a result of this misalignment, causes one or more of the following:
Nerve encroachment (putting pressure where the nerve exits the spine)
Swelling of the joint spaces between the vertebrae
Muscle tightness or spasm of the surrounding area
Abnormal pressure or pulling on muscles, tendons and ligaments
Twisting, tilting or tearing of the intervetebral disc
Tearing of the supportive ligaments causing too much motion
Compression of the joint space allowing too little motion
Sometimes this complex can be very severe (such as after an injury) and sometimes it can be long term (such as in arthritic conditions). In most instances, a subluxation will cause pain.
What kinds of conditions do chiropractors treat and help with?
Doctors of chiropractic treat neuro-musculo-skeletal problems (nerve, muscle, and bone) such as low back pain, neck pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and pain involved after accidents. Chiropractic care is also very effective in the treatment of headaches, especially tension headaches. In children, chiropractic care has been proven to be very effective in treating ear infections (otitis media), as well as colic.
Chiropractic doctors should not treat, cancers, bone infections, HIV, fractures, or any neurological active lesion (i.e. neuroblastoma) and should refer these cases to proper physicians. If Dr. Hanft suspects a condition he cannot help with, he will help direct you to the proper health care professional.
What to do if you are in an accident?
If you are involved in an automobile accident or other type of accident that causes immediate pain or immobility, see a physician immediately and even go the ER if that’s the only option available to you. Many people come to a chiropractic office for care long after an accident, making the symptoms more difficult to treat. This makes correction and proper healing much more difficult to accomplish. Injuries are best treated within the first 5-7 days of an accident. If the only care you are getting is painkillers, hot packs and massage, you are missing an important part of getting well. Correcting the spine is vital in limiting the damage both short and long term.
Can chiropractors treat a "slipped disk?"
There is actually no such thing as a "slipped" disc. The intervertebral discs are a cushioning piece of tissue that lie between each bone of the spine. There are two parts to the disk, the annulus (the tough part, like gristle) and the nucleus (a soft center, about the consistency of peanut butter). If the spinal vertebra tilt and create a wedge, the nucleus can bulge toward the open end of the wedge area. This can cause undue pressure on the spinal nerve roots or on the spinal cord. If the annulus becomes torn (partially or fully) the nucleus can migrate into the tear, putting even more pressure on spinal nerves or on the cord. The correct terminology for this is a "herniated" or “bulging” disc. Chiropractors can gently treat a herniated disk, within all but the most severe tears. Dr. Hanft is trained in Lumbar Flexion/Distraction which is a technique specifically designed to treat and alleviate conditions regarding the lower back and herniated discs.
Do I have to be a patient forever?
This is a question often asked of chiropractors. The answer is mostly NO, but occasionally yes.
Some patients come to a chiropractic office because they feel pain or discomfort. When that pain recedes and proper alignment is achieved within the spine, the patient is usually not seen again, unless they re-injure themselves. Sometimes a patient has a problem that is so severe (osteoarthritis, failed back syndrome, osteomalacia), that it is necessary to continue care for a long period of time for either restoration of motion or for pain control. This is often construed as being a permanent patient. In reality, it is reconstructive care and sometimes maintenance care.
So why do some patients say they go to the chiropractor even when they aren’t in any pain? The answer is because they understand that misalignment can be present even when pain is not. Many "healthy" people have small problems (that have not yet developed into pain expressions) that may or may not turn into larger problems. Treating these small (painless) problems when they are not serious is beneficial to the patient by eliminating a possible cause of future problems. They understand that chiropractors are experts in detecting and correcting spinal misalignments even before those misaligned areas cause any problems for the patient. It’s like treating a cold before you even get it or routine maintenance on a car to avoid a breakdown in the future. This is called "Wellness Care."