What Ails Your Nervous system?
Our nervous system is incredibly complex, composed of more than 7 trillion nerve cells! While this complexity results in a lot of great things, like our ability to be conscious and to feel, it has its drawbacks. That kind of complexity always leaves a lot of room for misfires and problems to occur. With our modern high-stress lifestyles, and how our nervous system responds to this stress, we are seeing many people with chronic or frequent nervous system-related dis-eases, dis-orders, and dis-comfort. Chiropractic aims to instil ease, order, comfort, and well-being into the functioning of your spine and nervous system in general.
To understand how this works, it’s important to first understand how the nervous system itself works.
The Central and Peripheral Nervous system
Your nervous system is divided by modern medical standards into the central and peripheral nervous system. The central nervous system includes your brain and spinal cord, and is where much of the work of chiropractic occurs. The peripheral nervous system consists of your nerves (the “wiring” that connects the various parts of your body to the spinal column) and sensory organs (your eyes, nose, tongue, skin, and ears).
Obviously, the functions of these two parts of your nervous system are very different. The central nervous system is all about controlling and coordinating the various functions of your body. Both through your executive function and through autonomic processes that govern unconscious aspects of your body, such as your heartbeat, or the functioning of your other internal organs. The entire central nervous system is constantly active, even in your sleep, as it has to govern your internal functions at all times. Also, even when you’re asleep you are actively thinking, expressed as dreaming.
The peripheral nervous system is involved in all of your perception, including pain, dis-comfort, warmth and cold, taste, scent, sight, sound, pressure, pleasure, and so on. It’s also responsible for the direct connectivity of your various organs and senses to your central nervous system and brain. This means that while the central nervous system is always active as a whole, the peripheral nervous system gets activated in chunks. Sometimes the “wires” in these chunks of your peripheral nervous system can become crossed due to injuries, overuse, inflammation, or other causes, leading to pain or other sensations that don’t have an origin with an actual physical stimulus. This is more common in over-stressed nervous systems.
The Autonomic Nervous System
The autonomic features of your nervous system revolve around involuntary, unconscious actions taken by and within the body. The autonomic nervous system is composed of the sympathetic, parasympathetic and enteric subsystems. Of the most interest when discussing stress and how it affects the body are the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems. The sympathetic nervous system governs our natural “flight or fight response” to an immediate danger to life and limb. This moves bodily resources away from normal functions like digestion that aren’t immediately useful to surviving the dangerous situation and triggers the release of adrenaline which is hard on the body. Conversely, the parasympathetic nervous system governs the self-healing and maintenance processes of the body that fight-or-flight responses shut down.
When you are under stress, but it isn’t life threatening, your sympathetic nervous system activates, but not to the degree it does during a full fight-or-flight response. Rather than causing all the chain reactions of fight-or-flight, a handful of related symptoms occur: muscle contraction and tension, modifications to natural posture and body positioning due to muscle tightness, nerve dysfunction, and mental fatigue and strain. You might have noticed, these are all very common symptoms we normally associate with stress and anxiety, all those functions occur through the function of the sympathetic nervous system which is intended to help your survival when in danger, but instead is getting triggered by emotional distress, long working hours, and high pressure situations.
This chronic triggering of the sympathetic nervous system takes resources away from the parasympathetic nervous system that should be taking care of your body and guiding healing. When this happens for a prolonged period it becomes a self-sustaining cycle, where the lack of the parasympathetic nervous system’s ability to heal the body results in additional stress, which prolongs sympathetic nervous system activation by causing additional stress. Individuals with frequent, high stress experiences develop various negative health conditions as a result of this cycle.
Nervous System Dis-Eases
With prolonged stress and repeated firing of the sympathetic nervous system dis-orders and diseases of the nervous system occur. Many symptoms are associated with nervous system stress such as pain, muscle spasms, poor digestion, sleep difficulties, hormone imbalance, heart disease, shortness of breath, and many others. All of these arise from the way your autonomic nervous system is processing stress with the sympathetic nervous system, and are exacerbated because your parasympathetic nervous system is being detracted from.
It makes sense then that any treatment that reduces the nervous system’s stress, slows or ends the cycle of repeated sympathetic nervous system triggers, or otherwise brings proper balance and order to the nervous system reduces the symptoms and improves your health overall. Chiropractic does exactly this. This is why chiropractic care is essential to our well-being in today’s stressful world. While conventional medical doctors focus on treating these end symptoms that we experience, chiropractic is focused on ending these negative effects at the source.
Start Chiropractic Care Today
If you’re ready to end the cycle of ever-greater stress and ever-worsening symptoms and dis-orders, it’s time to start chiropractic care. With regular chiropractic treatment your central and peripheral nervous system can be kept in better balance, reducing occurrence of inflammation, pain, emotional and mental imbalance, and the many other health conditions we associate with stress.