Mental Health Is Just as Important as Physical Health: Chiropractor’s Perspective
By Dr. Brent Wells, Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.)
In the healthcare industry, there’s always a debate about something. However, one topic that’s generally agreed upon is the importance of mental and physical health. On the other hand, some would argue that one is more vital than the other. Perhaps a chiropractor’s perspective will provide us with a more comprehensive understanding of the bigger picture.
Why A Chiropractor’s Perspective Is Important
While chiropractors are not medical doctors, they do offer a variety of alternative medicines that can help patients find quick, natural pain relief. Usually, a chiropractor focuses on diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal disorders, especially mechanical ailments involving the spine. Since a person’s physical condition often has a direct effect on their mental and emotional wellbeing, chiropractors have a unique appreciation for the inarguable connection.
The primary chiropractic technique involves non-surgical manual manipulation, a form of physical therapy that requires no over-the-counter or prescription medication. When performed by a certified chiropractor with an innate knowledge of the human body, manual manipulation of the musculoskeletal system can do the following:
- Relieve back pain
- Reduce the symptoms of sciatica
- Eliminate pinched nerves
- Stop headaches and migraines
- Treat sports and lifestyle injuries
- Decrease arthritic pain
In addition to their expertise on physical health, chiropractors belong to a large referral network that includes other authorities such as:
- Massage therapists
- Medical doctors
Chiropractic therapy works in tandem with traditional medicine. However, those who choose traditional medicine over chiropractic care often seek prescriptions when simple chiropractic adjustments may suffice. According to the National Chiropractic Association, there is plenty of evidence to support the effectiveness and safety of this so-called “pseudoscience.” Chiropractic is generally viewed as a form of complementary and alternative medicine that naturally supports physical wellness and enhances mental health. At times, however, it may be necessary for a D.C. to team up with other medical professionals to create an all-inclusive treatment plan.
What Is Physical Health?
Physical health is defined as a state of whole-body wellness. Essential to the overall wellbeing of an individual, physical fitness includes things like a person’s:
- Weight to height ratio
- Frequency of exercise
- Sleep patterns
- Medical conditions
A major sign of good physical health is being able to perform daily tasks without experiencing limitations or pain. While everyone becomes ill occasionally, those who get sick often are not usually considered physically fit. Additionally, optimal physical health is proven to have a direct effect on mental, emotional and spiritual wellness.
What Is Mental Health?
Mental health is commonly defined as the ability to function well in the core areas of life: love, work, play, etc. Also vital to general wellness, mental fitness includes things like a person’s ability to:
- Deal with stress in a constructive way
- Perceive reality without confusion
- Maintain a positive or balanced disposition
- Engage in healthy habits and/or pastimes
- Resolve conflict
While everyone gets sad occasionally, those who feel depressed, discombobulated or anxious on a regular basis are not usually considered mentally healthy. Additionally, optimal mental health is proven to have a direct effect on physical health.
Which Is More Important: Mental or Physical Health?
There is usually a clear distinction made between mind and body. Healthiness in both areas is incredibly important to the quality of a person’s life. However, the relationship between the two could not be more apparent, thereby begging the question as to why people believe one is more important than the other.
Mental disorders can present a wide range of symptoms, including but not limited to the following:
- Anxiousness, which might include things like:
- Rapid heart rate
- Changes in appetite
- Poor posture
- Muscle cramps and spasms
- Weight gain or loss
- Reduced libido
- Eating disorders, which could result in:
- Blood sugar spikes
- Insulin resistance
- Digestive issues, such as:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Suicidal ideations
- Social maladaptation
On the other hand, physical disorders aren’t any easier to live with. Most of the time, they cause the following symptoms:
- Chronic pain, which could radiate in various areas of the body, including:
- The lower back
- The neck
- The sciatic nerve
- The big toe
- Usually the result of gout, a painful form of localized arthritis caused by the accumulation of uric acid.
- The hands
- The feet
- The head
- Typically, in the form of recurring headaches or migraines.
- Low self-esteem
- Social maladaptation
- Medication dependency
- Decreased range of motion
- Inability to perform some tasks
- Muscle spasms and cramps
- Required mobility assistance
Obviously, mental health symptoms such as eating disorders, lack of motivation, fatigue, muscle cramps and sitting or standing with poor posture can have damaging effects on a person’s physical fitness. Alternatively, experiencing chronic lower back pain, being unable to perform your favorite tasks and dealing with a decreased range of motion can wreak havoc on a person’s mental wellbeing.
Take, for example, someone who is suffering from depression. They are less likely to participate in many activities, thus experiencing a steep decrease in their physical health as a result of their already diminished mental health. On the contrary, someone going through physical pain or living with a disability may become depressed over time due to their inability to fully participate in certain activities.
Using the Physical-Mental Connection to Your Advantage
Fortunately, there are numerous ways for a person to improve the quality of their life by taking simple steps towards whole-self wellness. By using the connection between mental health and physical health advantageously instead of arguing about which one is more important, patients can enjoy the overlapping benefits that seem to support one another.
According to the experts at Better Health Chiropractic in Wasilla, a well-managed combination of balanced nutrition, gentle exercise, guided spiritual growth, adequate social connections and regular chiropractic adjustments can be highly beneficial to those suffering from mental and/or physical ailments. For those dealing with things like chronic pain, complementary and alternative medicines like chiropractic can be quite helpful and less invasive than other modalities.
Dispelling Myths about Chiropractic Treatments
Unfortunately, many people shy away from chiropractic care because they have a false sense of what chiropractic care involves. Contrary to popular belief, chiropractic is not all about cracking necks and cashing checks. When performed by a skilled D.C., chiropractic is gentle, relaxing, pain-relieving and appropriate for people of all ages.
Taking a cohesive approach to your health by including a healthy diet, adequate physical activity, frequent psychological therapy and regular chiropractic care can contribute to the surprising 51.8% reduction in medicinal costs and 43% reduction in hospital admissions.
While the distinction between mind and body is apparent, the connection between them may not be readily noticeable to some. By following a lifestyle that promotes physical health, a person’s mental health is thereby improved. Alternatively, lifestyles that support optimal mental health are beneficial to the body. As such, using that correlation to your advantage may be a safe and natural way to enhance the quality of your life without taking over-the-counter or prescription medications.
About this Contributor: Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. is loving husband, family man and graduate of the University of Nevada and Western States Chiropractic College in Portland, Oregon. As the proud founder of Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab, Dr. Wells specializes in rehabilitative therapies which include acupressure, chiropractic massage, adjustments and natural pain relief at his multidisciplinary clinic.
For more information about his work, please visit: https://betterhealthalaska.com.