Many people first visit a chiropractor because they are suffering some kind of pain – back pain, headaches, neck pain, shoulder pain, leg pain, or some other kind of discomfort. They are mainly seeking relief, often having tried other approaches like medications, pain-killers, bed rest, and heat.

In fact, many people do get relief from visiting their chiropractor. The reason, though, may be somewhat different from what you might think!

When you’re hurting, the pain seems like the problem, but this is usually not the case. Your body uses pain as an alarm system to alert you to the fact that something inside isn’t working right. So, the pain isn’t the problem, it’s your body’s way of telling you there is a problem.

If you just shut off the alarm, and the fire continues to burn, then the purpose of the alarm was ignored and the house burns down, even though the alarm rang. It’s the same in your body – if you just shut off the pain without finding out why it was happening, the fire in your body continues to burn, and the effect can be a more serious health condition. For example, stomach pain may mean a developing ulcer, but shutting off the stomach pain with antacids or drugs does not address the underlying cause of the ulcer, like stress or poor diet, and eventually the stomach wears out.

So, the pain usually isn’t the problem, it’s the evidence that there is a problem!

That’s why chiropractic care doesn’t really try to shut off the pain, but to find the underlying cause, and deal with that. Often, the cause of the pain is some malfunction in the body, and chiropractors are experts at finding such malfunctions.

Here’s the way it works. The body is designed with a wiring system that connects the brain, which runs the show, with all the body parts. This wiring system is called the nerve system, and nerves are the wires that go from the brain to the body parts, so the brain can direct their function and tell them what to do.

The brain and nerve system are protected by bone, the brain by the skull and the nerve wires by the spinal bones. That’s why chiropractors are trained to examine and correct misalignments in your spine – when those bones go out of position, they can interfere with nerve function, which may either cause pain, or cause some other body malfunction that leads to pain.

When someone decides to begin chiropractic care, the decision frequently stems from a desire to experience relief, and it would be inaccurate to say that this doesn’t happen – most of the time, the pain subsides fairly quickly, and if this is all the individual wants, there’s a tendency to discontinue chiropractic care prematurely, before the underlying problem is adjusted properly so it can heal.

That’s why many chiropractors recommend periodic check-ups, for early detection and the correction of structural problems before they progress.

Many families decide to come in for their adjustments together, as a health and wellness practice, whether or not anyone has a painful problem. They have found that their quality of life improves with regular chiropractic care, among other good lifestyle choices, like healthy diet, sufficient exercise, sleeping on a good mattress, drinking enough water, and practicing stress reduction techniques like meditation or yoga.

So, doctors of chiropractic do help people with painful problems by finding the cause of the problem, and they also help people who don’t have painful problems by coaching them on better lifestyle decisions and keeping their structure healthy. Chiropractic care has something to offer just about everybody.