About Chiropractic

photo of spine and pelvisWhat is Chiropractic?

According to The Association of Chiropractic Colleges, “Chiropractic is a health care discipline which emphasizes the inherent recuperative power of the body to heal itself without the use of drugs and surgery. The practice of chiropractic focuses on the relationship between structure (primarily the spine) and function (as coordinated by the nervous system) and how that relationship affects the preservation and restoration of health.”  Also, it is the responsibility of any practitioner to know the value of other health care practitioners, when it is in the best interest of the patient to refer, and the value of working in cooperation with other health care fields.

The Goal of Chiropractic

The objective of chiropractic is to restore and optimize human health. In fact, according to a statement from The Association of Chiropractic Colleges, “The purpose of chiropractic is to optimize health.”  Because chiropractic treatments are primarily applied to the spinal region, many individuals incorrectly assume that chiropractors treat only back and neck ailments. While we do quickly and effectively eliminate back and neck pain, it’s not the only goal.

How Chiropractic Works

How can chiropractic optimize health? Doesn’t chiropractic just help the spine, neck and back pain? The answer lies in the relationship between the spine and the nervous system.

The spinal column encases the nervous system (spinal cord and nerve roots) and is responsible for its protection. Due to the close relationship of the spinal cord, nerve roots, and spine, any biomechanical and structural problem in the spinal column ( degeneration, fixation, herniation…)can irritate the nervous system. As a result of this irritation, tissue injury or direct mechanical pressure to the nerve, noxious inflammatory biochemicals can be released. The inflammation that occurs will negatively affect the functioning of the nervous system, resulting in where the nerves are to be supplied—tissues and organs. The degree of how the nervous system is compromised depends on how negatively affected the nerve is compromised, thus effecting where the nerves are going, to the organs and tissues.

Correcting spinal abnormalities which irritate the nervous system can lead to healthy nerve flow of the tissues and organs affected, thus influencing both spinal and non-spinal conditions.

What is Chiropractic Treatment?

Chiropractic is a healthcare profession with its primary focus on the musculo-skeletal system and the effects on the nervous system as it relates to the spine and patients’ health.

The majority of people who consult a chiropractor do so for back and leg pain, neck and arm pain and headaches. However, chiropractic can also be helpful for sports injuries affecting other joints, as well non-spinal ailments.

Chiropractic treatment consists of safe, specific adjustments, typically performed by hand, to free joints and other areas of the body that are not moving properly. The treatment does not usually hurt and usually requires a short thrust to a joint, which might result in an audible ‘click’ or ‘pop’. Often after an adjustment, the sense of relief or being out of discomfort occurs. This ‘click’ is the sound of bubbles of gas popping in the fluid of the joint (synovial fluid) as pressure is released. Often following an adjustment, the patient will be educated in regards to supportive care. This may include protocols for ice, heat, stretching and strengthening rehabilitative programs, exercise and lifestyle changes.

What do Spinal Adjustments Do?

Adjusting helps correct vertebral subluxations. Correcting subluxations reduces pain and inflammation, reduces muscle spasm and tension, normalizes spinal biomechanics and more importantly, can remove nerve irritation and interference which can improve overall health and wellness of the individual. Chiropractic adjustments are the only way to eliminate vertebral subluxations and only the chiropractor is trained to detect subluxations and deliver the chiropractic spinal adjustment to correct subluxations.


Dr. Shanna Bissonette, DC, is a chiropractor in Mammoth Lakes and has a satellite office in Bishop. She treats patients with acute and chronic pain presentations, headaches, neck and lower back pain regularly.  Her healthcare approach is to focus on the musculoskeletal and nervous system and the effects of these disorders on general health.