If you’ve heard of chiropractic you probably associate it with the “cracking” or “popping” of painful joints in the neck, mid and low back… and that may be all you think chiropractors treat. But what you may not realize is that a chiropractor’s practice may include all joints, muscles and nerves. That means everything from your jaw to your toes, strains and sprains of any soft tissue and those pesky nerves that you may not notice until they start to do strange things… like tingle or burn. Chiros work in the realm of preventative and wellness care, as well as pain management. In fact, research has shown that the chiropractic manipulation combined with a physical rehab program (strengthening, stretching, releasing, retraining) is a more efficient approach to treating pain than medication for symptomatic relief, alone.
And since we’re talking about how to treat pain, lets chat about what typically causes said pain. Many people feel that a stiff joint is the culprit for their issue. However, unless a joint is specifically involved in a traumatic event or a specific repetitive maneuver it’s probably not the joint itself causing your pain, but moreso the myofascial tissues surrounding the joint. Your body is this crazy complex system of muscles and nerves sending input to your brain and your brain reacting accordingly. If you’re doing something day in and day out that is actually reinforcing a faulty biomechanical pattern (sitting all day, improper ergonomics at work, sleeping position) your brain will start to respond to that accordingly. However, “accordingly” may not be “appropriate” and now the muscles are starting to have some issues. They’re being “shut off” neurologically and thus begin to weaken and tighten. When they tighten, blood flow is reduced, scar tissue laid down and metabolic waste starts to build up. The muscles stiffen; they lock down the joints they are connected to and start to impinge the nerves that travel around and through them. This is when you, as a conscious being, start to notice physical changes- “it hurts to go from sitting to standing,” “I can’t turn my head to check my blind spot,” “I’ve got this weird tingling down my arm.”
As you can see this whole body/brain thing is complicated, and very obviously intertwined, so it only makes sense that the whole system needs to be looked at for optimal results. At Twin Cities Spine+Sports we take this into account and focus on manual therapies to relax trigger points and reduce hypertonicity (spasms) which helps promote blood flow and healing. We look to mobilize restricted joints, stretch shortened muscles and break down restrictions via ART or Graston technique. Once the myofascial issues have been addressed a rehab program is initiated to correct faulty biomechanical patterns, strengthen weak muscles and provide long lasting results for our patients.
Many patients ask “how long is this going to take?” – and I can never give a definite answer because everyBODY is different. A couple factors that play into the healing process are: the individual’s biological makeup, their response to treatment, what the faulty biomechanics are and how much work a person is willing to put in. The 2% of a person’s day spent in the clinic isn’t going to be enough, alone, to make the long lasting changes we’re both seeking. I aim to give my patients the tools to help themselves, the rest is up to them! But when you think about it, isn’t being pain free and functioning at max capacity worth the effort??
Dr. Katie Clare, DC, CCSP, ART
Dauntless Sport & Spine Clinic
4510 W. 77th St, Edina, MN 55435