All About the Nervous System

There is so much more to chiropractic than just helping with things like neck pain, back pain, or headaches. A big part of chiropractic is that it looks after the health of your nervous system. If you would like to know more about it and what it does, and how chiropractic can help with it, then have a read of this article.

What is the nervous system?

It  is essentially your body’s control system. It is a complex system made up of nerves and special cells called neurons, that transmit signals between all the different parts of the body. It carries all the motor and sensory information that your body needs to function. This system is arguably the most important part of your body, as everything else in your body relies on it to function. This system is what lets your heart beat and your lungs breathe.

All About The Nervous SystemIt is composed of two main parts, your central nervous system and your peripheral nervous system. The central system is made up of your brain and your spinal cord. Your brain is where all the information processing happens. Your brain receives information from your sensory organs and processes this information to interpret exactly what is happening in your environment around you. It also is in charge of sending information back out into the body about what the body needs to do. Every time you move your arm or your leg or blink your eyes, that is because your brain has sent out the signal for that to happen. It also sends out signals to control all the things you’re not aware of, like your heart beat and the digestive process. Your spinal cord is a long tubelike structure that extends out from the bottom of your brain. It extends from your brain stem down to the bottom of your spine. It carries all of the incoming and outgoing messages between your brain and the rest of your body.  In some cases there are messages processed in the spinal cord and sent back out to the body, at the same time as the message is sent to the brain. This is called a reflex arc. For instance if you put your hand on something really hot, you will automatically move your hand away from it before your brain has even registered that you have touched something hot. This is a protective mechanism, and just one of the things that your spinal cord is extremely important for.

The other part of it is the peripheral nervous system. This is everything else in the system that isn’t in the central. It is mostly made up of all of the nerves that branch out from the spinal cord. These nerves then spread out and attach to every single little part of your body. These nerves carry the information to and from all of your organs, muscles, and skin. None of the processing of the information is done in the nerves, they are just in change of carrying the messages.

The peripheral system is divided into two main parts, the somatic and the autonomic. The somatic is what controls things that are conscious and/or voluntary. It carries sensory information from the body to the central system, and carries motor information from the central nervous system to the skeletal muscles in order for them to contract. When you move your arms or your legs, this is your somatic nervous system in action. The autonomic system is what controls those things that are outside of our voluntary control. It regulates our bodily functions such as our heart rate, breathing, and digestion.

The autonomic nervous system is then further divided into three main parts, the sympathetic nervous system, the parasympathetic nervous system, and the enteric nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system controls your body’s involuntary response to stressful situations. It controls your fight or flight response. When put into a stressful situation it will do things such as raise your heart and breathing rates, and direct more blood to your muscles, so you are physically ready to respond to whatever the threat is. The parasympathetic nervous system is essentially the opposite of this. It helps to return your body to its normal state, also known as the rest and digest state. The third part of the autonomic nervous system is the enteric nervous system. This is in charge of controlling gastrointestinal behaviour.

How does chiropractic help?

So you may be wondering where chiropractic comes into this. Because the nervous system runs directly through the spine, the two have a very close relationship. The spine is made up of lots of moveable segments, and when these segments stop moving properly, it can interfere with the nervous system and its ability to function at its best. It means that the messages being transmitted between your brain and body can not do so as effectively as normal. If your nervous system isn’t able to function at 100%, then neither is the rest of your body. This can cause issues such as clumsiness, low energy, lowered immune function, slower healing times, and pain. This is where chiropractic comes in. Chiropractors are able to find these areas of the spine that are not moving properly and are interfering with nervous system function. They then perform what is called a chiropractic adjustment. This is a fast, low force impulse into the affected area, usually with their hands, in a specific direction. This impulse is like a reset for the joint, and allows it to regain its normal motion. When all of the segments of the spine are moving normally, this allows for optimal nervous system function. When your nervous system is functioning well, then the rest of your body is able to work at its best. Chiropractic is essential if you want a healthy, well-functioning nervous system, and why wouldn’t you? It is the most important part of your body, so it pays to look after it well.